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The shock of it all.

21 REPLIES 21
Wonky
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi Susan, thanks for replying. You've had it tougher, chemo, I was spared that. Hardest thing I've ever encountered and agree we just have to keep going and be realistic it will take time; not rushing out tomorrow for a new lipstick! 

Susanmanchester
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

I just want to look in the mirror and see myself again so I do empathise . Even though I kept most of my hair on head no eyelashes or eyebrows is not a good look and God knows how long it will take . To add to the fun I got conjunctivitis . Radiotherapy starts next Friday let's get it over with ! But I won't look good or feel better for a few months yet . 

Wonky
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

I'm going to plough ahead anyway ladies! After getting over the first and second rads, I settled down and was going well. Then for reasons I accept but do not agree with, I was, without any pre- warning, despatched to talk to the 'radscoordinator'. Lovely person but far younger than me and despite all her good intentions, has set me back significantly. NO!!!!! I do not want a free make-up lesson, despite seemingly getting £200 of ' freebies' for signing up. I have had 3 months of treatments and am fed up with being poked and prodded. Also, this implies my personal grooming isn't up to scratch; I am clean and tidy but I have CANCER, so apologies for not turning up looking like a catwalk model every day. I have effectively been "offered charity", which frankly offends me. AND, did I really need this in middle of rads, could it not have waited? Is mascara so important when you are still trying to come to terms with what you see in the mirror every day, below your chin and in any case you are constantly on the verge of tears pretty much constantly.  Sorry for rant. Bless all who sail here. 

Wonky
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

If any ladies out there are reading this thread, I'd be really interested in chatting.

Wonky
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi, by sheer fluke I was surfing the site, so yes more than glad to 'talk'. W Hope I have caught you in time! 

Recnac
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hello are you still here to talk ? 

Jencat
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Glad you're coping ok with the radiotherapy Wonky. I think it's only natural to feel apprehensive at first when you have radiotherapy, I know I was, but it did get easier as the sessions went on and also as I got to know the staff. It's good that your boss will let you work from home to begin with, it'll make going back to work easier for you x

Wonky
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi ladies. Love your encyclopaedia comment Nellie, made me smile. You've had a long innings after all, I should be done and dusted within 4 months of being diagnosed, other than tamoxifen and other tablets for 7 years. Struggle to get my head around that as I wouldn't even take an anadin or a lemsip. But no chemo for me, the thought of it terrified me, so RESPECT to you. So the radio. Well true to form, as I am scared of hospitals I was in a right state day 1. I basically have panic attacks and needless to say shaking and hyperventilating didn't help the angels (nurses) line me up, easily. They were simply fantastic though and have , by Day 3 got me relaxed enough to get through without being distressed- not even any tears, so proud of myself about that. You soon get used to the proceedure and learn to 'go floppy', so they can move you around. They are so skilled. The panic is totally irrational but impossible to control. Yes, it hits you hard, and as much rest, peace and quiet as possible is what works best for me. 9 months off work was clearly what you needed Nellie and the general advice on these forums is don't go back prematurely. As we are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act, employers should make 'reasonable adjustments', so my boss, great guy, is going to let me work from home to begin with, so I can ease myself back into commuting etc. Do wonder if I'll actually remember how to do my job, lol, as it feels like I've been off for years (9 weeks in reality). Now you're not tied up in the endless trips to hospital Nellie, what have you in mind to treat yourself to? Take care all and nice chatting. 

Nellie McNelly
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi all - was drawn to this thread by the title!!  I finished radio last week - having had surgery in October and November and chemo from December until May.  The shock of the whole "experience" has really hit me.  Like some others on this thread I've not been ill before and I've never had more than a couple of days off work and yet here I am now with medical notes the size of an encyclopedia and  9 months' sickness absence from work (so far).  

Sandpiper
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi Wonky,

Wondering how you're getting on now you have started radiotherapy. Have they made a difference to how you are feeling? My surgery went well, thanks, I had WLE last Tuesday and nodes were clear, so now the wait for margins and results. Rads in the autumn. I'm quite tired now and trying not to do too much.

Take care of yourself

Sandpiper

Wonky
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Jaybro (Jan) extremely helpful, thank you. Can't imagine chemo, let alone on Christmas Eve, well done you. I think your description of ' staying numb' is a good one; I get what you are saying. I find numb works best for me and yes, certainly I don't want to know the details. What they have had to tell me has been bad enough! Really interesting what you say about Prozac. Have the usual panic setting in at present, nausea, stomach cramps, shakey legs and know will be far worse tomorrow morning, but I'm not freaking out, so pretty proud of myself, actually!  Think you are absolutely right that you know best within yourself and although others mean well, you are best going with your instincts. Mine are lots of peace, quiet, duvet time and very little else; 'normal life' will come again, in time when I'm ready. Hug. 

Jaybro
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi Wonky

 

Sometimes numb is protective and can be very useful. I’m at the end of my treatment now (diagnosis September, surgery October, Chemo from Christmas Eve, radiotherapy May). Being phobic, all of my fear continued to be focused there so I looked on the cancer diagnosis, which got worse by the week, completely dispassionately. I have got through things I would never have dreamt I could manage because of this emotional detachment. I didn’t even ask questions because I didn’t want to know. For me, numb was good, the perfect coping mechanism for me personally.

 

I have continued with my SSRI (agomelatine - very few side effects) so, if you feel the need, go back to your GP to discuss alternatives. It’s only fluoxetine and a couple of others that interfere with hormone therapy - there are plenty more SSRIs to explore IF that’s what you need. You may not need them now. You may prefer numb - we each choose how we’ll deal with it and no one else can know what’s best for us (though you probably find a few try to put you right). 

 

Good luck with the rest of your treatment regime. By now, you’ll have found out that radiotherapy is nowhere near as scary as it sounds, I hope.

 

Jan x

Wonky
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Jencat, very helpful, thank you. Not seeking endorsement to be lazy, agree with you that some people think you are better long before you truly are. You don't recover from being hit by the Cancer Express Train, overnight. Very kind and supportive boss, but he does already seem to be counting out the days to me coming back, and I haven't even started rads yet. Let alone coming to terms with it emotionally. 

Jencat
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Wonky, they're probably right about taking more time off work after radiotherapy. I work at a school and I finished rads at the end of last June and had hoped to return before the end of the Summer term. I kept being advised not to rush back and actually in the end I didn't go back until the start of the new term in September and even then I wasn't really ready physically or emotionally. 

Like you, I'd never been seriously ill before and after treatment ends you're in shock with what you've been through. I think everyone else though thinks you're ok now and you can just go back to normal x

Wonky
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Thanks Jencat (and all). Having thought about this some more, I think what this boils down to is having never had a serious illness, it's alien being off work, yet I accept I couldn't possibly cope with work at present. Once I'm through rads I've been advised to take at least a further month off work, and that it could take a year, altogether, to 'get over' the experience. I guess you just don't know, so it is a weird limbo-land. 

Jencat
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi Wonky, I felt exactly the same-I kept going through surgery, chemo and rads, but then found it difficult to go back to normal life once that was finished. Macmillan offered me counselling, which I've found has helped x

Wonky
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi Sandpiper, best wishes for your op. I kept going until op too, but then took Cancer Nurse's advice to 'go sick' and give myself maximum 'me time'. (I work full time; I know everyone is different though). Trying to cope, aka 'be normal' has taken it's toll on me, as it's far from 'normal' at the end of the day; something you are reminded of every time you look in a mirror, post op, and see what they had to do to keep you alive. Sorry for being morose, nothing personal. W

Wonky
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi Ann ( and others), think the 'haul' through treatment path, sums it up. Early times for me, so very raw emotions. At present point in time see this as wounded animal retreating to cave, until radio over, thereafter can start to think about building up again. Unfortunately no kids/ grandkids, to keep me focussed on good things. W x

Sandpiper
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi Wonky,

I'm a bit behind you in this as I haven't had surgery yet - due next week around the day you start your rads. I think you'll find your way out of this strange numbness you are in the middle of. I don't think there's a right way to feel or not feel and you can't force yourself to feel anything different just now.

For me it all still seems a bit unreal and has done from the start, in spite of all the appointments and tests. I think it's because I'm still carrying on doing all the things I normally do and have been very busy. I might feel differently after surgery next week when I have to stop and rest for a while.

I hope your rads go smoothly.

Sandpiper

 

Jobey68
Member

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi Wonky, totally normal response and often as Ann says once treatment is over and we are expected to just get on with life we find ourselves trying to come to terms with what the hell has just happened to us!

I’m 4 years on now and cancer is pretty much something that is in my past but it takes a while to get to that mind set, I made the decision quite early on to focus on what I had to look forward to, I’ve experienced so many major events since my diagnosis, both my sons marrying, buying their first homes and giving us grandchildren, one here and one on the way, the absolute joy of our lives! 

I never take for granted what I could have missed out on of course but I’m here and I’m enjoying every second of the life I am lucky enough to have so I don’t dwell I just embrace it all! 

My point is you never forget but you can move on and have a new found appreciation of everything Xx Jo 

ann-m
Community Champion

Re: The shock of it all.

Hi Wonky,

I think most of is have felt similar at some stage & it can hit at different times. Apart from the early days of diagnosis, my worst time was after treatment was completed & it took me a while to shake it off. 

Getting diagnosed, then being hauled through the treatment pathway is a shock & takes a while to process emotionally. 

I’m now 3 years down the line & all’s well. 

Is there any other support you can access? Others here have found counselling helpful, your bcn should have details. 

If there is one in your area, a ‘moving forward’ course could also help. 

This will move on

ann x

Wonky
Member

The shock of it all.

Hi, I was diagnosed 6th May, lumpectomy and lympectomy 6th June. Start radio in  four days time. It's been a complete whirlwind and I just feel .... well I don't really know what I feel! I've had the 'usual' range of emotions, but at present I seem to be in a weird emotional vacuum and can't shake myself out of it. Had Prozac from GP to help me cope but can't continue taking because of Tamoxifen. Is it normal to go numb like this? Well-meaner has suggested I've got PTSD,as the diagnosis hit me very hard. To me life is put on hold whilst they get the cancer contained. Be great to 'chat' if anyone is about.