Good morning all, firstly I want to say thanks to so many of you for your sharing as it's helped enormously through the waiting to be diagnosed period, just knowing what I've been feeling is normal makes a huge difference to accepting this.
It's taken a while, due to broken machines, changing hospital, and a couple of other problems, but I've finally been told that the lump in my breast is cancerous. I'm still playing the waiting game however as the doctors fear it has spread beyond just my lymph nodes and that I may be looking at a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer, so, more tests, a full CT scan and waiting ahead before I can even discuss what my treatment options are.
I have been told that I am certainly going to need a full mastectomy and lymph node removal with chemotherapy and radiation, the order of it all etc depending on results yet to come.
I'm someone who likes to plan, we go on holiday and I have an activity planned for every day, from scuba diving, to quad biking, to cycling, to parachuting, all planned, all known in advance, this not knowing is kinda driving me potty right now!
I have an amazing husband, (our tenth wedding anniversary today! Yay!) who knows me well and has taken me shopping for front fastening PJ's, lightweight fluffy gown, fluffy bedsocks, booked a bra-fitting at M&S with an advisor who has experience with people pre and post op, we've also shopped for some of my favourite essential oils for relaxation etc etc… So, I feel a little in control and extremely supported by a husband who when the consultant explained that I wouldn't be getting a breast reconstruction for at least a year if at all and asked how we felt we would cope, simply looked him straight in the eye and said "I'll have a spare hand free to stop us falling off the bed then!", I have an employer who from the beginning has simply said "whatever you need, tell us and we will do it, look after yourself first", family who have been amazing and openly talk to me, friends who are secure enough with me to simply say "I don't know what to say, but if you need me just ask" so I feel truly blessed in that if I have to go through this it's with the best support possible.
The cancer itself almost doesn't bother me, as long as the diagnosis is primary, even though I'm looking at stage 3, I'm feeling fairly positive, if it's secondary it's a whole different ballgame and I'm not even daring to look at that possibility until I'm told I need to (fingers crossed the CT scan finds nothing), the surgery I can cope with, the loss of my breast with my husbands attitude bolstering me is going to be tough, but do-able, the chemotherapy I'm not too concerned about, hair loss etc which for most women is a biggie is something I have coped with before as I suffer periodically from alopecia, so psychologically I have that bit down already, the rest I know I'll deal with day to day, the radiotherapy I'm not sure, but again I know I'll find my coping mechanisms. Singly all problems I know I can deal with, put altogether its overwhelming and scary as hell, triggering my worst fear, not the cancer, but depression.
My past includes a year in hospital under section 3 of the Mental Health Act, 8 ECT treatments during this time and since then a few emergency admissions under section 2, treatments with anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, tranquilizers etc etc. My absolute pride in being able to say I have beaten this and for the last 11 years haven't needed medication, I've had depressive episodes but with my husband and family and friends I've been able to overcome, to see it coming and to tackle it early and head on, I have coping mechanisms in place which work. I'm terrified this is all about to crumble around me, that the energy needed to fight this isn't going to be there because it's going to be needed for the cancer. I feel the pull of depression calling me to give in to it, it's seductive I know it's power over me.
I know what I'm feeling right now is normal, of course I'm bursting into tears unexpectedly, of course my moods are up and down, still waiting on a full diagnosis doesn't really help, but I am worried that given my history I'm going to struggle with this, I'm off to see my GP today to talk to him, I'm not sure if I should pre-arm myself and go onto some anti-depressants now, but I'm guessing that without knowing what treatments etc I'm looking at, especially by way of possible hormone/chemotherapy treatments, he may be a little reluctant to start me on anything right now, and I may be underestimating myself and able to get through this without...
I'm rattling on now, actually, writing it down helps put it in perspective a little, for anyone making it through my meanderings, I apologise for the long-windedness but thank you for making it!
You sound like you are doing amazingly - good luck for the journey.
But... I wonder if getting going on the counselling/ therapy front now might be useful: get in there early to prevent relapse/ minimise the drop in your mental health? And, yes, perhaps getting on the antidepressants now might be a good idea with what you have already been through.
I had to cancel a longed for holiday - but am now getting going on sorting something out for the future, which is also keeping me going.
Take care x
Another one here who had problems getting onto the site to answer you.
I'm with your GP, you are a very strong lady with so much inner strength and resilience you will get through anything BC throws at you. It is difficult waiting for test results and sometimes these come in dribs and drabs and it can take a while for them to all come in, unfortunately until they have all come back your treatment plan can't be finalised. Mine changed several times from diagnosis through surgery and until my last test result had returned. I'm a definite planner and found the whole waiting business difficult and caused anxieties but you just have to wait it out.
It sounds as if you have got a fantastic network of support, they will help and support you no end and you also have this forum where you can sound off or ask whatever you like. Being at work is good for you and if it gets to the point where you need some time off make sure you keep contact with your colleagues and have regular meet ups with them, it helps get you through - I met up with mine every 3 weeks whilst I was on chemo and every couple of weeks since.
You will have plenty of laughs throughout whatever treatment you may have and it doesn't mean you have to stop doing the things you enjoy maybe just adjusting them a bit.
No matter what stage you are finally diagnosed with there are treatments out there which enable people to live with bc and live well.
I hope you enjoyed your cuppa and your long warm bath
Like Chick, I found it frustrating that I couldn’t respond to your post because of the site problems. You seem very resilient and your GP has made it clear where you both stand. Writing as someone who’s been in the MH system for a long time, diagnosis and treatment bring about a depression that’s distinctly different (in my opinion) from clinical depression and in some respects that makes it more manageable. Who wouldn’t feel depressed faced with an unrecognisable body that’s at the mercy of strangers and chemicals you have little control over?? But it’s a focused depression - that’s what makes it more manageable, though no less real.
I actually found my anxiety and panic disorder went on hold for the duration (once I’d got reassurances about various things). Of course I got depressed about side effects or feeling useless at times during the chemo treatment, occasionally I’d get anxious (like the first radiotherapy session - unnecessary; the whole thing was so easy apart from the daily travel) but these were natural reactions to difficult circumstances. However, I continued on my SSRI throughout and the oncology team were very supportive of my mental wellbeing throughout.
I hope that helps reassure you about what lies ahead. I was a wreck - couldn't have cared less about the bc; all I cared about was my phobias and panics. Once the team reassured me, I went through a pretty tough time but I came out the other side immensely proud of myself and grateful to the people who took my worries seriously. I wish you well. We’re always here if you need a reassurance or just a moan.
Afternoon Chick! 🐥
And thanks for the reply, I'm lucky enough to have lots of support and people who are good at listening and happy to give me a kick if they spot me wallowing in self pity and allowing a depressive attitude to take over, I've shared my concerns with many and put things in place, swimming being a biggie, water is the most amazing therapy going for me so I'm picking that up and ensuring I have plenty of peeps with me for the first time I'm able to go after the op.
My GP just looked at me and told me straight that he thought I was one of the strongest people he had ever known (known him for twenty plus years) and that he believed I would smash any depression into the floor before succumbing again and that if I didn't feel like I did now he'd be far more concerned. So that vote of confidence helped a lot!
So, been back to work today and loved it, having to think about something other than me, chatting and joking with my work colleagues, feeling like things are pretty darn normal has been an absolute delight. The waiting is a pain, but meantime I'm gonna just get on with it, and make sure I have a solid support around, from home, to work, to here.
Time for a cuppa and a long warm bubble bath methinks.. 😀
Hello Fluff ball,
I wanted to respond to you last yesterday - so frustrating as not allowed to log on due to Forum techno issues. So sorry you find yourself here. Fingers crossed for you that it is at the primary stage but if it is not, don't think that all is lost. Take heart from all the users on this forum who are living with a secondary diagnosis..... Remember that.... Living with! So much of what you say resonates with how I felt when first going through the Diagnosis Mill so to speak, so take some reassurance from that if you can. If it is any comfort, some years before diagnosis I went through clinical depression when my neurotransmitters decided to go AWOL for a few months. I kept thinking the unknown, the diagnosis, the treatment, the aftermath etc would set it off again.... But it did not. Try and eat as healthy as you can, keep active as much as you can, retain social links and allow yourself to switch off from the bleeding nightmare to keep that depression at bay. Your partner sounds absolute ace. .....oh how I wish I had someone like that at the time. Best wishes to you, your partner and family,
Chick 🐣 x