Struggling with Mental Health After Surgery?

Hi everyone.

Personally, I feel that this diagnosis and surgery has really taken a toll on my mental health. I wonder what people’s experience of this has been, and if you think that it should be more of a medical focus during treatment?

Wishing everyone a happy Christmas and a better year in 2024…

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Hello skysurfer,
You can accept yourself where you are at,
It is a lot to process.
I did surgery on Dec 6th. A left side mastectomy gone flat with lymph nodes removal.
I have been joyful away from the hospital dr. and tests.
My mental health suffers with them even Tho they are kind.
I am home now and Home is my safe space and it is happy. I have everything I love here, bed, recliner in my bedroom with heat, books, artwork, plants, feed birds outside-TV!! Netflix.
Could you find your safe space where everything is ok?
You may try a life coach to cheer you on if you can not find it with in you.
I cheer you on! keep going it will be over and get better soon,

Winda.

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Hi

I feel you. I too have had my mental health suffer since being diagnosed in May this year. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, lumpectomy July, chemotherapy for 12 weeks from September, just had last infusion on Thursday delayed by two weeks due to infection. Bit of a rest for Christmas then 2 January MUGA heart scan and following week 5 days of radiotherapy, Herceptin injections 4 January then very 3 weeks until September. Letrozole to start after radiotherapy and Zolendronic acid infusion April.

So much going on, I sometimes suppress my emotions and just muddle through. The last few weeks have been emotional knowing chemotherapy was finishing but had lots of issues with where the book me for appointments. Nearest centre is 25 miles but throug country lanes or motorway it’s 30 miles. The. Main centre is 32 miles and for my last centre . Then they sent me 54 miles away. 1 1/2 hours travel each way on top on chemo 4 1/2 hours (cold cap added extra time). I have been so emotional this week. Crying for no reason. I also have family issues that have been going on for two years as my mother and brother died and I’m executor for Mother and have sold family home. I don’t get on with brothers family and working with solicitor.

Due to other health issues I can’t have antidepressants and have had counselling in the past. I’m now ready for more. I could go through work but not sure if they could be in touch with some who understands what it’s like having cancer.
There are charities such as MacMillan (via Bupa) and www.pennybrohn.org.uk ( Bristol based but lots done via zoom). Maybe that’s something you could do.

I have a breast care nurse that calls occasionally from the breast surgery team and she’s lovely, but since moving onto the oncologist team there is little if any emotional support. On a call the other day I become very emotional and I got no response or acknowledgement. I think they believe you can sort it yourself but that can be a struggle especially during treatment when you are dealing with side effects.
I’ve since found out there are complimentary therapies at the main centre but I was never offered this and if you don’t have your treatment there it’s not available at the other sites. With the centres being so far away it’s not so easy to access. But you may have something available to you more locally, worth checking.

Hope this has been helpful. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

You are strong. You can do this. We are here to support you.
BCN might be worth a call, they may be able to help as well.

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Totally agree with you about your home being a safe space.

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Hello lovely, it’s such a mind-bending, soul crushing roller-coaster isnt it? I have always done yoga, but have discovered and taken a Transcendental Meditation course - https://uk.tm.org/. This is helping my inner calmness enormously. I also read Dr William Li’s “eat to beat” disease book to make sure I can do all I can to put the right things in my body to support my treatment. I feel like I am regaining control. I remember walking out of the hospital after initial diagnosis wondering if I would ever look at a flower the same way again. I was diagnosed the day after my mother died too, Stage 2 BC, 3cm tumour, suspect Lymph nodes. I had to juggle op treatment and a funeral. I also have a busy job that sees me on a plane every month, a team of people who need me, 2 kids and 3 grandkids. Here’s what I’ve learned. The stories we tell ourselves are worse than reality. It’s amazing when you re-connect your mind with your body how much gratitude and positivity to you can find, even in the darkest days. I am now 4 wks post op. Mastectomy & LN Clearance. The disfigurement is not as bad as I thought. I’ve come to terms with it. I’m Re starting gentle yoga to help LN clearing, fluid and I meditate 20 mins twice a day now. This is a revelation. I feel stronger mentally (calm, clear, grateful, accepting) and physically each day. My outlook at present is If “something” has shaved a percentage off my life somewhere - I’m darn well going to make the most of what I have each day to make the world and people around me better before I go. Hope that helps. good luck xx

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Firstly you are not alone

Please tell your team and your GP. If its hard to say it, write it down and give it to them

Please get some professional counselling

Macmillan, your GP , your team can point you in the right direction and share your feelings, fears, anxiety and worries with your trusted loved ones, they will listen

And finally please be kind to yourself, do a small thing every day for you, whatever that is like wearing your favorite lipstick, making your favourite meal( or better still have someone do it for you), reading a fabulous book, going for a short walk, having a cuppa with friends,

Just think about today for a while until you can cope with thoughts of tomorrow

And keep talking even if you think you are being pain, keep talking

Hugs lovely

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Hi,I feel your pain, I too have really struggled with my emotional response since diagnosis, and I’m only having lumpectomy, at the moment !!!
I asked my GP for medication and feel much better since starting mirtazapine. I understand that not everyone wants to go down this route but for me it has helped.
This is not a competition to see who can get through it with minimal meds, support, therapy, it’s really really tough. I’m a throw everything at it sort of girl, so sought out acupuncture and hypnosis at my local cancer alternative therapy centre. So hopefully the combination of everything will get me through.

Xxxx

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Hi, there is no right or wrong way to deal with what you are going through. I will say though, it is better to look after both because they help each other in your recovery. I hope you start to feel better, memtally and physically in time to enjoy your Christmas. Xx

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Hi Thankyou . I love this post , so helpful, especially “the stories we tell ourselves are much worse than reality “ - so true for me and about making the most of everything if we’ve had some time shaved off our life . I too find yoga helpful and did use meditation initially to help me through the treatment process and have realised I need to get back to it . I hope yours and other great suggestions people have made will help skysurfer and others
Wishing everyone well on your journey and grateful for the support. :blush:

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If anyone is interested I found using Headspace App very useful. There are daily suggestions which I find good for routine. Breathing has helped me be able to hold my breath for 30 seconds for my impending radiotherapy.

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Unfortunately, it is known that most Oncologist have little or no empathy. Sad but true.

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It is a lot I know. I’ve had twelve weeks of chemo, several muga scans, bone density tests, radiation, a year of herception, alendronate pills weekly and last but not least letrozole for 7 more years. It is hard on your mental health! :heart:

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Hi skysurfer

My mental health was definitely impacted by the diagnosis and treatment and immediate aftermath of breast cancer, having access to the services offered by Breast Cancer Now really helped me and now feel that I have a positive outlook as did doing meditation exercises.

Hope you all have a lovely festive break

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After diagnosis in January 2022, I got past shock and denial quickly and then felt reassurance at my mum having many friends who in the 80s are still living with breast cancer. But it’s taking me a lot longer to appreciate what it all means, because although at 62 (post menauposal) the changes and life implications are comparatively smaller than for a young women, it still new territory for me. For example a year since my surgery (mastectomy then lymph nodes clearance) sensations are progressively coming back in my left arm, some of which can be a bit movement restrictive if I don’t stretch regularly. The one thing that sustained me through the whole post surgery and treatment period was keeping some kind of activity, which depended on keeping to my old routines. It’s only then that I dared looking inwards more and jot down a few impressions here and there in my diary. During chemo there was an entry for each day. Weirdly enough I still write in the diary on occasions but the entries are no longer all related to breast cancer which is telling a story. Your story matters and is worth recording in some ways. I’m also drawing inspiration from videos on YouTube. The oncologist Jennifer Griggs speaks sensitively about specific mental health issues associated with a breast cancer diagnosis. I also watch Liz O’Riordan’s videos - a breast surgeon whose had breast cancer 3 times. We are 2 days away from the shortest day of the year and that can impact our moods, plus all the festivities can be stressful so do take care navigating through this to new adventures in 2024!

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Hi I agree with the diary/ journal being beneficial. I have been doing one since I started chemotherapy, sometimes it’s about how I feel, symptoms and others just what happened on the day. It feels quite reassuring to do this. When you write something down you can let it go.

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I am completely depressed by it all and in my appointment on Weds I flung a MacMillan cancer book I’d been given across the room while the person I was seeing sat at a desk some distance from me behind a screen but facing towards me.

I had been told the appointment which I had been given for a zoledronic acid appointment recorded in this book by the nurse when I had my last treatment six months ago didn’t exist. I had queried this appointment at the time as it was so close to Christmas.

The upshot was my appointment was changed from 9 Jan back to 4 Jan and she told me not to behave like that again. I didn’t throw it at her, but at a wall to her extreme left.

Yes I am officially nuts

Seagulls

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Hmmm… can’t pretend I wouldn’t have been a bit shocked if I’d been there at the time but I understand your frustration . It doesn’t seem like you either Seagulls as you always seem to have a riposte for situations like these - I’m so sorry that you’re struggling .

I’m not in a position to judge though - I’ve had a wobble this week been a bit snappy on a couple of occasions and ended up shouting at my phone in a public place yesterday ( Google Maps not my favourite app at present ) . I thought there was nobody around to see / hear me but life doesn’t work like that does it . Hopefully they could see that I was shouting at my phone and not at thin air.

Hope you’re coming around a bit Seagulls
Joanne. X

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My onc told me off yesterday for not turning up at my pre chemo session appointment.
I told him off for ringing me 40 minutes later than he should have done, but I understand that he might be busy, but I don’t want a black mark against my name because my list of appointments clearly says Telephone Call. Poor chap couldn’t get a word in. Don’t mess with a red head, even if it is coming out by the handful. My jumper today looks like a dog has been sleeping on it.

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Thank you @Isitreallyme I am glad I am not the only one who finds oncologists rather difficult to have a conversation with on an equal footing. They would rather we do what they and the MDT think is best. I feel in a weak position as they seem to think any amount of side effects should be tolerated as preventing breast cancer back is their top priority. My top priority is overall survival at my age 68 - and what impact breast cancer treatment has both on survival and on the quality of life I will have for the next 10 - 20 years of my life.

I am currently 15 months into a five year course of letrozole and I have lots of unpleasant side effects from the reducing level of oestrogen in my body, and maybe other side effects of letrozole unrelated to oestrogen depletion. Seagulls

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Hello Debster,
I am in PT now getting range of motion back after single mastectomy surgery and lymph clearance. Are you getting or did you get chemotherapy?
W