struggling. why am i finding it all too hard

hey all.

here goes.
mom ,dx and mastectomy dec 2009
me , breathing problems for years, end up being dx with trachea stenosis, operation need to remove part of wind pipe, all set for sept 2010. . age 42!!!

3 weeks before op find a lump and am dx sept 2010,wle, operation done with my throat op. nodes clear. 6xfec and 20 rads. fnshed may 2011
mom, may 2011 starts treatment for bladder cancer, but ends up as terminal.

i had 14 months off work and went back nov 2011. found it hard, but did phased return over 7 weeks. since xmas have been full time. things have changed, loads of new people, loads younger than me. most of them thinking who is the new girl with curly hair!!!
left to get on with work after 7 hours re training!!! so after a few tears they got me more training and weekly meetings to see how the week has gone.
i find it hard to pick up the job, its all figure report work, but i do it, and even after a reshuffle of the office and being uput on the team with age 19, 20, 21, and 25 i ignore the insensitive conversations that go on. like i wonder what its like to know your gonna die, would u spend your money before hand!!
each of our work reports are checked as include important investment information, and it feels like lot of mine have errors picked out. which is fine, but instead of coming to me with them and showing me where i go wrong, they go to the one girl age 19 that as employed when i went off sick. and i hear them saying this is wrong ect ect . feel about as useful as a chocolate tea pot.
also if know the answer to a question someone is asking i say the answer and its ignored. like i have no knowledge.
today i had enough and and asked one of the lads why they do that, and i he wasnt happy, said he was doing his job and sometimes needs to check if he has checked it correctly!!! and also im over sensatve.
this lead to me in tears, for most of the day.

ended up seeing hr lady, as i was in such a state. .

whats wrong with me, why cant i do the job i did standing on my head.
why am i over sensitive.

my life as fine until BC came into it. i gave it a year, and then when i had my year annivsary i thought that’s it i get my life back, but it hadn’t happened. i feel so lonely. i have friends and family but they dont understand. they all think i look well, back at work and treatments finished so its all n the past.

and it is, so why is it upsetting me. i never went into hospital as a BC person i went in with my throat, and i have made myself belive that i had cemo for that, i cant accept that have had BC, i don’t want me to have.

i want to be me again, and i don’t know how to be

Poppy, first off, here are some virtual tissues and an electronic hug. I can read the tears in your post and am dabbing away in sympathy.

I don’t have much to add, just wanted to give you the acknowledgement that you deserve. [[Edit: just went and wrote a flipping essay - sorry!]]

There are a LOT of reasons why you’re struggling. Look at what you’ve described from where we’re sitting - outside and just reading - and you’ll see what I mean.

Firstly, your family has had not just ONE diagnosis of cancer but THREE. Blow me, if you were able to sail through that you’d be a robot or super-human, not the regular woman you started as. Most of us have just had one cancer diagnosis that has had us reeling, three is just awful.

And you’ve had the throat op to deal with. (I admit I have no idea what it is but it’s an op and something that would worry anyone.)

You’ve been through chemo. Even though we all try to buoy ourselves up in order to get through it, chemo SUCKS. Getting out the other side of that is a really tough thing to do. It’s hard, and takes time to get over both physically and mentally. My concentration’s shot to pieces since finishing chemo last June, a goldfish could beat me fins down on the ability to hold a thought.

So you’ve had several major life-changing events, some really tough physical things to go through, you have effectively started a new job without the benefits of it being a new job (fresh start, etc) and your new colleagues are distinctly lacking in empathy.


I think you probably need to acknowledge the full awfulness of what you’ve been through in the last couple of years. That way you can look at it face on and recognise that you DESERVE to cut yourself a bit of slack.

(By the way I’m talking to myself here, I’ve had some seriously crappy rubbish to deal with as well as cancer and really should be kinder to myself. Just wish I could follow my own advice sometimes.)

Practically, you might want to write down your work concerns. Just do a complete brain-dump and put down EVERYTHING that’s getting to you. Leave it for a day, or at the very least overnight, then go back and edit it. (Save your very first version, you’ll see why in a minute.)

When you edit it, try to look at the factual stuff that you’ve written, and make sure there is no exaggeration or overstatement and that you can back up the facts. For example, note an instance where Fred spoke to Alice about a query in a report that you’d done, but spoke directly to Alice about a query in a report that she’d done. State how that made you feel, using language that you’d use if you were speaking calmly. (Imagine yourself standing up reading what you’re written out loud, that should give you the right tone, I think.)

This second document is what you can take with you to the HR people. You might want to give it to them in written form or use it as an aide-memoire to help you when you’re talking to them about your concerns.

Why did I say keep hold of the brain-dump version? So you can look at them both and see how far you’ve come.

There are lots of posts on here that have mentioned an article written by Dr Peter Harvey. My brain’s a bit woolly and I can’t find it, but googling cancer, counselling and Peter Harvey will bring you to it. Or somebody kind will post a link.

Best wishes, and here, have another hug.


Oh Poppy, what a rough, rough time you’ve had. I just had to send you a big hug. You’ve had so much thrown at you, it’s no wonder you’re finding returning to work really difficult and people can be so insensitive. The mind plays havoc with you after BC, and yes, after treatment has finished many expect us to return to the way we were before, jump back into it as it were, but we are still bruised and battered and our world can be a lonely place. Our recovery seems to take longer than we expect and we beat ourselves up over all kinds of things, that’s why this site is so great for us all because we understand. I think coping with work must be really hard, thankfully I’m not working as I don’t think I’d cope. After all that’s happened I feel we have to learn to be a slightly different person which only comes with time. Be kind to yourself. You look so happy on your photo. We put on a face for the world and I don’t like to think you are so lonely.
What a lovely helpful post from ChoccieMuffin!
Ami xx

Thanx sooooo much both
Cm what an excellent approach, im going to do that tonight, i was too upset last night

Dreading work today but have to pay the bills


Hi Poppy,

I expect by the time you read this you will be home from work so I hope today wasn’t too bad.

I wanted to offer my support as well, and to echo the other comments. Don’t be too hard on yourself it’s a tough time and will take time to get better.

Reading the last bits of your post I wondered if talking to a counsellor would help? They would be someone you can talk to about what you have been through and help you move forward?


Hi Poppy

I am so sorry that you are feeling so low and send you a big hug.
I know how hard it is when your mother has it to, my mum had bc 10 yrs ago it came back in June, she is terminal while nursing her i got diagnosed in December have had lumpectomy so i am trying to nurse both of us and look after kids its hard and we all have bad days!!
Have you thought about speaking to a counsellor sometimes they can help.
Hope you feel better today and remember you are a strong person who has came through an awful lot and hopefully you will feeel better soon x

Oh Poppy, I’m so sorry to hear this! You went through your treatment in a similar time line to me and like me you’ve had to deal with other stuff that on its own would be hard to cope with let alone whilst you are also dealing with breast cancer!

First off a huge one of these (((((((((hug!)))))))

CM’s advice is excellent and I hope you find it helpful. As a former HR person it is *exactly* what I would recommend.

Also, most definitely cut yourself some slack, as by heck you’ve been through the wringer!

I found myself feeling very much the same way now that I’m a year down the road from going through dx, treatment etc. You get to the end and expect to be able to just pick up the life you left on hold and it’s such a let down when the reality is that that life has changed so much you don’t know how to deal with it.

All of this is **completely** normal!

I found this book hugely helpful - The Cancer Survivor’s Handbook. There were parts of it that had me in tears because it seemed to have been written with me in mind! :slight_smile:

The other thing that you might want to do is organise some counselling. Your HR people might be able to help with this but you could also try this as well -

Again, a huge hug!

Nymeria xxx

Hi all, I too am feeling completly lost.

I was diagnosed with bc May 2011, mastectomy and ld reconstruction July 2011, TAX x 5 started Sept 2011-was meant to be 6 but I was developing psychosis so it was stopped, 5xrad starting 6th Feb, meant to be on Tamoxifan but have stopped for the last 2 weeks have been having bad side effects-waiting for onc to get back to GP(waiting 2 weeks now) about options.

I don’t even know where to begin in how awful I feel. Brief overview-have M.E, since 1999, my dad has terminal lung and liver cancer and lives 300 miles away, I have been too ill with treatment to visit since June last year and my son has just left home-I have been a single parent since he was 3 and we are extremely close. Add in the mix the rejection by friends since diagnosis therefore no-one to talk to and I just don’t know where I am or what I’m doing, there seems no normal left in my life to hang on to. I don’t look or feel anything like the person I was. I am 48, just!,and am struggling to come to terms with life moving on, due to my M.E it feels like I haven’t had the life I wanted and it feels like time is running away with me and things will never change.

I don’t know who I am anymore, even simple decisions are beyond me, I don’t trust myself to leave the house-my state of mind is all over the place. I feel so lonely and isolated, even the people I still know, few that they are, don’t understand and I feel no-one wants to see me as all I do is cry. I don’t think I’ve even come to terms with having cancer.
It sounds hard to belive I know but I was such a positive person, every-one said how impressed they were with the way I was dealing with everything yet now-right at the point I’ve been waiting for, ie treatment to finish and to ‘get on with my life’ I have fallen to pieces. I don’t even know what my life is let alone how to get to it.

Sorry if this sounds bleak but I feel like my head will explode if I don’t get this out.


Hello karenlan

I’m sorry to hear that you are having a tough time at the moment. I’m sure the users of this site will be along to support you soon.

In the meantime maybe you would like to talk things through with a member of our helpline staff who are there to offer emotional support as well as practical information.
The free phone number is 0808 800 600 and the lines are open Monday to Friday 9.00 to 5.00 and Saturday 9.00 to 2.00.

best wishes
June, moderator

Karen, you poor thing! Definitely give the helpline a ring, even if all you do is sob noisily down the phone at them. They are a wonderfully caring bunch, and know exactly what you’re feeling.

It sounds like you might be one of the up to 50% of cancer patients who ends up suffering from depression at some stage, and you need some help to get you through from getting up in the morning until bed time. I bet getting out of bed is sometimes a mammoth task, particularly with your ME.

A couple of things you might want to think about.

Firstly, your GP may be able to help, either with talking to you about anti-depressants (which have the good side-effect of counteracting hot flushes) or counselling, or both. Your BCN may be able to direct you to a counsellor who has experience with cancer, because the sort of counselling you may benefit from would help you to acknowledge what you’ve been through, a first step on the road to dealing with it.

Secondly, there may be a local support group where you are for BC patients. Your BCN should be able to point you in the right direction. Meeting others who know what you’ve been through without you having to explain it all can be very liberating, and very supportive. And crying is most definitely allowed.

There might also be a support centre attached to or near to your hospital where you were treated. There you may be able to get counselling, or even just a nice relaxing massage to help you feel like a human being again, instead of a quivering wreck.

Finally, have a gentle hug from me, sounds like you need one.


Hi ChoccieMuffin,thanks for your reply.
I have spoken to my GP who has been trying for the last 2 and a half weeks to get a reply from the oncologist, he did not suggest anti depressants or counselling. I asked to be referred for counselling which he promised to do, when I hadn’t heard anything I rang the organization to see if I could self refer. I have an appointment for next week, the doctor had not referred me. I spoke to my bc nurse who spoke to the counsellor attached to them who was meant to be ringing me yesterday and didn’t. Bearing in mind I had told my GP I was feeling suicidal when I originally spoke to him 3 weeks ago now, all in all pretty appalling really oh and I phoned the support line when my son left home,this was the straw that broke the camels back so to speak, I was told that how I was feeling wasn’t totally breast cancer related and that I should phone samaritans or visit my GP-despite knowing I was bed bound!
I am trying to be reasonable and I am aware that my mood is colouring my thinking but I feel completly let down by the people who are alledging to be there for support.
I really wish these people/organisations would realise how hard it is to ask for help and how devestating it is when that help is not forthcoming AND how blooming tiring it is to constantly have to fight and chase up and hassle to get some help just at the time you have least energy.

Sorry for the rant but I feel so let down,
Karen x
Ps. many thanks for the hug :slight_smile:

CM - I like your idea of a brain dump - great idea and I might try that myself when things are getting overwhelming. everything is out of proportion when upset as well.

Poppy - without being patronising, bless you. I empathise with the feeling. I had 1 year in my head and it’s coming up to the year mark since diagnosis, in fact the 15th Feb. No chance of normality yet at all, though I’m sure everyone around me thinks I should be by now and then I hate them then I hate myself! It’s really hard being in this phase too. xxx

Thanx all for your lovely kind words

And its awful what other stuff we all deal with on top of bc.
Karen, bcc are amazing n also macmillan. . Get back on to your doc and say hw u feel now . Meanwhile we are ll here to lsten n send hugs
Nymera. We did go through t all around the same time. How time flies eh
LYnn , sorry to hear ur i. Simular postion to me. Totally crap init

Ive rang the local hospice nd asked for a cuncelling assesment. Awaiting a letter xxx

Thanx for your support ladies xxxxxxx
Work today wasnt as bad. I kept my head down x got a meeting to morow with the boss

Cm, wicked advise ive started my brain dump xxx

Poppy I’m so glad work was bearable today.
Do so hope your meeting tomorrow is one where you are heard…
Then, maybe some realisation of your situation will actually be found and a plan for the future formulated together.
Don’t agree to anything too quickly! I’ve been there myself and ended up signing for my own ill health retirement when I was very unwell!!??!!
Just give yourself at least 24 hours but probably more…!!!

Karenlan, I too suffer with M.E. and a depression does combine itself with the physical symptoms. My recovery from mx in Feb 2010 took about a year. I felt I was very slow when I compared myself to others but of course any surgery will take us so much longer to recover from as well as any further problems from BC.
With your son leaving you’ve lost your support system in one full blow and your family are a very long way away…
You must feel as if you’ve been rejected and then the rejection of other friends etc makes the aloneness feel even more isolating.
The response from BCC wasn’t ideal today but they were trying to redirect you to a more suitable team. Don’t feel any stigma in talking to the Samaritans, they are there for all of us, especially when you’re feeling suicidal…
They may build up a daily bond with you or you can phone them at any time during the day or night. At least they are always available so do phone them. I think you need to talk a great deal but also you need to sleep. You need the deep rest that being depressed brings with it. If you say depressed you can hear that it is actually ‘deep rest’. You desperately need to stop and just live a very basic life for a little while…
No decision making, just stop and try and meet your basic needs.
Just give in to it and sleep whatever hours you can, eat and watch any absorbing TV whilst you try and admit to yourself what a nightmare you’ve been through.
Eventually you might be able to decide after resting who you want to speak to… You said you stopped treatment when you became psychotic?? Who did you speak to then?
Maybe a telephone call with your GP as you’re housebound or any other services you’re involved with could be your start but the Samaritans are there for you too. They’re not just for very suicidal people they’re there when people are alone and need to think/speak things through…
Then you might know where your next step should be…
If not try them again and maybe you’ll have someone different who will listen to you in a different way. They won’t give you advice but they will give you a supportive environment where you can talk about all these fears.
I trust you will find the strength to make a phone call to whoever when you read this. Be assured you’re not the only one who’s felt so isolated with no real support. I’ve been there too and after years of input I can now sit with my own negative feelings and not feel quite so unusual. It’s unpleasant but you have to work through your feelings. I’ve been sitting here for three weeks now and I’m beginning to know where to start and I’ve started! Nothing major but I’m facing outwards instead of inwards and thinking about others again. The inward spiral of sadness is very isolating so I’ve sat it out on my own. Now I know I’m facing the right way but still must take it slooooooooow!

Good luck to you and reward yourself for being brave enough to write your post tonight. It is the first step. Well done.

And finally C.M. I know you’ve been very low recently so I hope you’ve been looking after yourself too and putting yourself first.
We, women need to do so much more of putting ourselves at the front of the queue…

Hugs to you all before my fingers drop off…
Do hope I haven’t lectured anyone but I am speaking from experience and hope my direction can help someone else…


WG , thank you.

I’m hopefully coming out the other side of a particularly rubbish week or four and with help from lots of people I have just managed to hold on to who I am I think…

Hugs all round.


It sounds as if it’s been really harrowing for you. so glad you can see a little gleam of light…
You take care now and have a tight hug from me too.

SO sorry to read how you are feeling Karen. Some G.Ps just don’t seem to have time for their patients anymore.I know when I visit them they don’t have a clue about my history of B.C and I don’t think they even listen to what you say. Not all of them mind you but its hard to get apps with the caring ones as they are the most popular. You need to find a G.P who will listen to you.ask for a longer app so they have more time for you and counselling will help you to understand your negative thoughts and hopefully help you to start getting things a bit more in perspective.I do hope you start to feel a little better soon I just don’t know how you are even coping with just one thing never mind all your problems.Thinking of you and hope it isn’t to long before you come out the other side big HUG Janice xxxx

Oh bless all you lovely people!!
I cant tell you how much all your kind replies have helped me. I feel better just for admitting how I feel, normally I would keep things to myself but the power of finally admitting how low I have become is amazing and all your support has moved me to tears, happy ones this time though!

Poppy-I have been feeling bad as I feel I kinda just hijacked your post and was to ‘me,me,me’. Sorry but once I started it all just poured out! I think you are amazing even being back at work,you have been through so much and I don’t think any of us realise at the start of all this how much it is going to affect us. I was coping fine with diagnosis, treatment etc, very positive outlook etc so it has completly thrown me to be the emotional mess that I find myself in now. On one of the other threads some-one was told by a bc nurse not to try to hold onto getting the old you back but explore and enjoy the new you that comes out of this-kinda made sense to me. I really hope you are feeling ok today and that your meeting has helped bring some resolution.By the way there is starting to be quite a lot of research in America into the cognitive effects of chemo-it would appear that it affects cognitive ability in ways that are only starting to be understood-I know I have definatly been affected, used to teach literacy and now find it hard to spell and definatly have problems processing information-chemo brain it is known as!

Welsh girl-thanks so much, you are so right in your advice and it means so much that you took the time to write it. I think my problem is I was so raring to go with my new life I kinda forgot I need to do all the things you said. I have always been so busy racing onto the next thing, and as you can understand it seems so much of life has been lost do to M.E already-I was even planning to move house this month!! Ha ha, what was I thinking?? Your wise words are so true, I shall be heeding your advice and just resting and being kind to myself. You are so right that we need to sit with these feelings and allow ourselves time to come to terms with things.I am so glad you are now feeling ready to face outwards again and hope you find some joy but, as you say, slowly does it!

jmr-I have to confess you feel like a friend already, I found the ‘where did I go?’ thread the other day when feeling desperate and read through the whole lot! Took some time! It was seeing the support and friendships on that thread that made we write on this one, previously I had always been quite anti forums etc prefering face to face as a way of communicating but seeing the benefit of ‘talking’ on here to others who understand has changed my opinion!You all sound such lovely people and I love the butterfly analogy. Thank you for getting in touch, I am having counselling starting Tuesday (arranged it myself,gave up waiting for doc to do it!)so hopefully that will help. Sending a hug back and hoping you are well.
Karen xx

KAren, well done on the counselling. I had a couple of weeks off for Christmas holidays and didn’t realise until my first session back just how much I’d missed it. If you get a counsellor you get on with, it will do you the world of good. And if you feel you don’t quite click with the first person, ask to see someone else. They won’t take it personally. It’s like buying a pair of shoes, if the first pair doesn’t fit, you try a second pair. (Apologies to counsellors if the analogy isn’t perfect, but there are some shoes that I absolutely love to bits, so it’s not all bad!)

Poppy, as Karen says I hope your meeting was positive for you, and that you were able to hang on to your dignity and put your points across assertively without falling to bits or just getting cross. Tell us how the meeting went, and I hope the brain dump thing helped.


Karen, that is such a positive step. Well done you!
And thank you for letting us know how you’ve been.
I was worried yesterday when I didn’t see any post from you but it all takes so much time to think, plan and eventually take action when you’re feeling physically and emotionally drained…
I wasn’t being realistic at all.

I’m in a lot of pain at present which I’m sure you can understand and I’m achieving zero output BUT not beating myself up like I used to… The guilt is a big issue for us M.E. sufferers isn’t it?
Do hope you have a little energy today to reward yourself for such a productive few days.

Keep in touch if you’d like to…
We’re always here.


Sending supportive hugs to everyone reading this thread, it is a hard slog at times, isn’t it?