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Really Struggling


Really Struggling

Hi, hope everyone is ok

I am really struggling at the moment, diagnosed a year ago but first attempt at lumpectomy abandoned because of complications resulting in 3 days in ICU. Now coming up to the first anniversary of this event my head is all over the place. I having heated conversations with my boss, who has previously made the comment ‘you got off lightly’, feel like there is no support, little things that normally wouldn’t bother me wind me up, and ended up crying in my car at lunchtime yesterday. I have been back at work since April, following lumpectomy and rads, but am now really struggling, feel like I’ve had enough, and wondering wether or not to resign. I only do a part time admin job, but don’t have enough to do or challenge me, so now constantly thinking about this time last year. 
sorry for the essay


Thanks Jan & Bookish

your reply’s have helped, especially the 80% cancer stress level scenarios. As a friend of mine said to me, people who have not been through it don’t understand it, especially how anniversaries bring it all back.

Still unsure what to do about work, my wages are primarily to help my son stay in his job down south, he gets paid a pittance, but loves his job, so I have to consider that as well. I have done an e-consult with my GP, will see what help/advice they suggest

take care and stay safe x



Hi Denzie,

I did a very helpful course after my diagnosis and one of the things that was discussed was the idea of stress being like a thermometer. In normal day to day life, you might have a 'temperature' of 30C - just background of remembering stuff, dealing with traffic, etc etc. If you then experience a stressful event, like a flat tire or a run in with your boss, that might 'cause' another 30C of stress - taking you to 60. However, if you're already dealing with a huge stressor like cancer and memories of treatment, your 'background' stress might be at a constant 80. The extra event adding another 30 suddenly tips you over the boiling point.

I hope that makes some sense. I've found it oddly comforting over the years to go "yeah, I'm tired, I'm stressed, I'm higher up the thermometer right now" as a way of understanding myself when I sometimes overreact.

That said, your boss is not sounding like a nice person!

If you think the boredom is part of the problem, would you consider doing an online course? There are loads of sites like FutureLearn, Khan Academy, and many others, offering free courses on just about any topic you can think of. Maybe you could use your current boring job as a good time to explore some interests or upskill for a better role?


Hi Denzie

I’m really sorry you’re struggling but, in that a work environment, maybe it’s not surprising. I don’t think people realise the sheer horror of a breast cancer diagnosis. All those fearful thoughts, even once they’ve been disproved (you’re not going to die, you’re not going to lose your breast etc), are still there to some extent - until you get them out of your system.

Did you know that, with a cancer diagnosis, your employer must register you as disabled under the Equalities Act and you have rights that must be protected (including protection against such crass comments as that example). It might be worth looking at the Act (2010?) on www,gov.uk. 

Macmillan have a free helpline and one of the options is to talk to someone about work-related matters. They may not have the answers but they certainly can advise about your situation and reassure you. The question is do you WANT to resign? If you are resigning because you don’t like the job, fair enough, but if it’s more to do with how unhelpful your line manager is and how helpless you feel, why should you when you are protected by law? It’s not like work will be easy to find, given the soaring unemployment rate. 

Another thing that occurs to me is that you may be suffering from post-treatment fatigue and it might be worth ringing your breast-care nurse to talk things through. An anniversary can be difficult - I deliberately chose the date I had my mastectomy and therefore the cancer was removed. I thought I’d chosen a positive date. It didn’t work - I felt down and depressed, wondering why I still feel so bad two years on! Do you know about Breast Cancer Haven? You can get free counselling (online at the moment) and you may find your hospital’s support services have adapted to the pandemic and gone online. Certainly it sounds like you need someone who understands Cancerworld to talk things through with. There’s something unique about a cancer diagnosis, isn’t there?

I hope you find the right solution to lift your spirits. I will still congratulate you on your first anniversary - you spotted something, you got help, you got a lousy diagnosis but it was caught early and you got through surgery and treatment and you are on your feet again, even working. I call that a result and worth acknowledging, despite all the anxiety, fear and misery that went with much of it. And I am not an optimist!! All the best, Jan x