Why can't I be honest ...?

Fiftenn months down the line from diagnosis, I feel far worse than I did after my initial diagnosis. I’ve had chemo, surgery and rads, and at a year had a normal mammogram & ct scan, but I feel so scared.

I’m still off work, and can’t see me ever managing to do the busy stressful job I used to do, but am scared that I’ll be pushed into returning. I’m still on tamoxifen & zoladex, plus antidepressants, but still have panic attacks at the most stupid and small things.

When people ask me how I am, I say I’m fine, but inside I’m crying and screaming. I need to be able to tell people how I feel, but worry that if I start, I’ll completely unravel and end up a heap on the floor.

What do I do now … I can’t go on living like this, and things seem to only be getting worse.

Hi Mum2two

I’m sorry that you’re feeling so scared and overwhelmed. I think we have a lot of pressure to put on a brave face once treatment has ended which kind of protects the people who are asking the question, but doesn’t really help us. I often wonder how much people really want to know when they ask me how I am. I tend to give a factual response - “yes, I am responding to treatment” “I have a scan” etc - or if I’m feeling cheeky I might describe bodily functions - that’ll shut them up! But when someone asks me the “how are you within yourself?” then I may well start to blub, depending on how I really feel at the time and who it is I am talking to. Sometimes it is just a relief to cry and realease the emotions and be human, and not live up to people’s perceptions of my being “brave” or “amazing” or Wonderwoman.

Personally, I have found counselling to be a good outlet for the thoughts which I can’t bear to share with those close to me. It’s better to voice my fears than keep having them repeating on a loop in my head. The counsellor can help break down the origin of fears and suggest a different viewpoint, or strategies to manage irrational thoughts. Perhaps a call to the BCC helpline might be of use too?

With regards to returning to work, many people re-evaluate their thoughts about work when faced with a critical illness and it seems to me that you don’t want to return to your former role. Would it be possible to take another role instead, or would you prefer not to return to work?


Very sorry to hear that you are having such a bad time.

I think you can probably get help from your oncology dept or GP re counselling. You may need to see a proper psychologist with further training as it sounds a bit like you may be suffering from the trauma of it all.

There is also BCC, Mac and the Cancer Counselling Trust (google it) who I found really helpful. Don’t be afraid of collapsing into a quivering heap- it’s the first part of admitting and dealing with it. Doesn’t matter if you spend the whole first session doing that!
Take care
Anne x

Hi Rebecca

So sorry to hear your feeling low at the moment, you cant keep pretending your fine when deep down your going through hell…Maybe you should tell people all is not well, i know i do when im asked,they may not expect to hear what i have to tell them but at least their there to listen if i need to talk any further.It may even lighten the load, like the other girls have said, you cant expect to be amazing all the time and perhaps seeing a counsellor may be just what you need right now. my hubby has starting seeing a counsellor and he feels a whole lot better, as for me im just plodding along trying to overcome the next hurdle,ive recently come out of hospital as my Rads burns got infected with MRSA, i never seem to be well at the moment, if its not one thing its another hey???

Im always here for you if you need to talk,maybe we could meet up again soon…

Take care Rebecca,

Thinking of you




OK this is the third attempt to post, I dont know what I do but I am forever losing everything I write before I submit. It used to happen on the old site and still does, very frustrating!!

Anyway Hi Rebecca

I dont come on the forum very often now, I am 2 years post DX and only came on because I wanted to tell everyone about my time on Race for Life that I am so proud of.

I just wanted to say that in my experience 15 months is still early days and I found the year that followed the end of my treatment very tough. What helped me alot was actually joining this forum which I didn’t do until after all my treatment had finished because, like you, I still had a million unresolved issues that became harder and harder to talk about within my immediate circle because although they were all very supportive they were desperate to move on and away from the trauma of the DX and treatment. I also wanted to do this but found that I couldn’t just leave it behind and go back to my pre DX life.

I did go back to work because I wanted to see if I could still do the job I did before but it was really tough and support was very thin on the ground. People forget very quickly once your hair grows back and you start to look normal again plus they have their own lives to contend with. For a while I looked seriously at changing my job and would still like to but I have got 2 kids at uni so money is an issue at the moment but I know that one day I am going to spend my days volunteering at a dog rescue centre!!

What I am trying to say in a very roundabout way is take the time you need, you have been through an enormous experience and things dont just fall back into place. You need to find your new normal and you will and you will be happy again and life will be good again. I got a lot of satisfaction from posting on newly diagnosed threads of which unfortunately there is no shortage. Talking about my experiences to people at the start of their journey was very cathartic as was writing a journal about everything going on in my head.

Anyway if you are still awake take care and be kind to yourself, you have come along way and there is no shame in feeling how you feel


Hi Mum2two.

I think we were dx at the same time ish. I was dx in dec 07 and i remember some of your posts. I too have gone through emotions fears, anxiety attacks, scares, and turned into a total hypocondriac. I remember in jan 09 not wanting to go into b’ham city centre as i was too scared of the busy town husstle and bustle. I remember sitting on the train thinking i’m being looked at and am going to get attacked, mugged and fearing for my safety.

I remember b4 i went back to work in march thinking how am i going to do it as i too had a very busy high pressure job. Work have been fab and i’m still phasing myself in. I have found it hard with new systems and procedures/process etc but thats like whenever u have a year or so out. Too be honest its been the best thing i did going back to work as when i was sitting at home all i did was think about cancer returning.

What i’m trying to say is take small step one at a time and try not to overwelm yourself. I have had councilling and it has helped me look at things in a diffent manner and also handle situations in a ways that suits me. 15 mnts from dx everything you;ve been through is still fresh in your mind especially when you have a young family.

I set myself small targets like going to town on my own and just sitting there. Booking a small break for a weekend then a holiday
setting targets and sticking to them to help me move on. Also it might be worth speaking to work to see how they can help you rehabilitate back to work and discuss a phased return. I started with a few hours a week and am still building up to it.

I sometimes argue with OH as now i’m back at work he’s going back to his old self where i take on, shopping, cooking, cleaning, kids, school runs etc and this does get me down. I keep telling him that i don’t want to take on all the responsibility while he sits down and watches snooker and tell him to pull his weight. Yesterday he rattled the milk carton saying is this all the milk weve got and i said what do u want me to do about it - he had to go out and get it himself! This is my challenge at the moment!

Sorry for babbling on but if u want u can pm me.
Try to keep your chin up and please dont be too hard on yourself it is still early days.
huggs to u

Hi Mum2two.

So sorry you are having such a hard time right now. Please don’t struggle on by yourself. The others are right. There is help out there and you need to allow yourself to reach out and take it. I know it’s hard to admit to friends and relatives how you are really feeling and it is often easier to talk to an outsider. There are good sources of free counselling. Most of the cancer charities offer it and maybe your employer or trade union also offer counselling services? They’ll help you explore what you are feeling, suggest coping strategies and help you work out what you want to do about your work life. The TU might also be helpful if your employers are putting pressure on you to return when you’re not ready.

I’ve been with the same employer for 32 years and after 2 months off they are already discussing medical retirement because I’m likely to be unfit for a year or more. At first I was horrified as I’m only 48 years old. Like you my job was busy and stressful and I was confident and very independent. I was at the office last week and things have already changed so much. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that retirement wouldn’t be the worst that can happen. At least that would let me take a less stressful job when I’m ready.

Hi Mum2two

So sorry read how you are feeling. Whatever anyone says will possibly fall on deaf ears, talking to a Counsellor should prove beneficial. Friends and family whilst longing to help you are going to use platitudes to try to make you feel better. You need to pour it all out to a ‘stranger’ so that you won’t feel you’re upsetting others. Are you a very strong person in normal circumstances, and find it difficult to open up? Not everyone is tactile which makes it even harder to express your feelings. Bravery isn’t a very good description of what you have shown up til now, you haven’t had a choice have you? Perhaps now is the time to be ‘brave’ and consult with someone who is not emotionally involved with you!