Emotional issues

Cancer can be emotionally draining, but sharing your feelings can help you and others in your situation. Talk about it here.

Loss of confidence and panic following basal cell cancer

Posted by

Thank you for letting me join this group. I just wanted to share that I'm struggling a bit.

The middle of April I had a 28mm  infiltrative carcinoma removed from the tip of my nose (MOHS) and replaced with a skin graft taken from my clavicle. They say the cancer had been there for 18-24 months, but they think they've got all of it out. It's healing really well. Although it's still not looking great, it's already very much better than it was and they say it will continue to improve for another 6 or so months. It's definitely already livable with. 

The issue now is that I seem to have hit an inner emotional block about work. I have lost all confidence and feel I just can't do it anymore. 

I'm a social worker in an hospice. It's the best job I've ever had, with a great client group and colleagues and my managers could not have been more supportive! It is demanding and even before the op I had been getting tired - getting through the week and recovering at the weekends. I'm sure many of you will recognize that pattern! I had wished I could retire (I'm 63) but really it was fine, and I would have kept going for the remaining 2.5 years until retirement, if I hadn't had the cancer. 

As it is, that seems to have toppled me over an edge. After being off work for two months to allow for the wound heal, I am now back at work, but I feel I just can't face it anymore. When I think about taking on the role of social worker again it's like hitting an internal brick wall. I've handed in my notice with all the financial implications of that (income, pension, benefits, etc.). I'm working out my notice just doing admin things. I've registered with an agency to do support worker shift work at a very much lower salary, but less responsibility which I hope will be better. 

Rationally (having talked with my accountant, thanks to some income from Airbnb lettings) I think I'll be okay, though I may end up working more hours than the four days I do now, because of the lower salary. But I keep hitting up against a kind of panic. Some days are better than others, but much of the time I'm holding onto a ball of terror in my stomach, which wells up and I start crying when people ask me how I am. I feel like the ground is disappearing under my feet and I'm falling apart. Some mornings I wake up early and can't get back to sleep, worrying about how I will manage financially, and what would happen if I got cancer again without the right to sick pay, etc. I feel I have lost my sense of security and firm foundations. 

I am generally a reasonably confident person, and I feel I shouldn't feel this way, because my cancer is such a 'good' one - lots of people have it, almost definitely it doesn't spread and I don't have to have radio- or chemotherapy. I feel I should be happy to have got through this and ready to get stuck in again at work ...

I have arranged for some counselling which will start later this months, but I wanted to ask - have any of you had this experience? How did you deal with it? 

Sending much love to you all!  :-)

Posted by

Hi and welcome to the community though so sorry to hear about the impact this cancer has had on you. I know some social workers and it can be a very emotionaally draining role and I have seen a number leave much younger than you even without having gone through cancer. 

In terms of emotions we recognize that no cancer is a good cancer and you might like to read life after cancer treatment.

Glad you have gone for the counselling, talking really can help as they say a trouble shared is a trouble halved.