Cancer Coaching

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I finished 8 months of treatment for breast cancer at the beginning of September. I thought I was going mental because I didn't feel ecstatic but realise now that this is quite normal. Reading your comments has really helped and that paper by Dr Peter Harvey is amazing.

Have any of you tried cancer life coaching for people like us? I'm thinking about trying it but am not sure. I feel so confused I feel like a totally different person now and am definitely starting to withdraw from the world. I am still very tired due to chemo etc so don't feel like going out and even talking wears me out. Thankfully I do a lot of crafts so this is keeping me almost sane but I keep thinking I should push myself to go out and do other things. I am retired and live on my own. I do go for occasional walks which help. No one seems to understand and they think that now I've finished treatment I should be fine but I actually feel worse than I did during the treatment.

Help - any advice would be gratefully received.

Many thanks

Carolyn x

  • Hi Carolyn and welcome to this corner of community. The post treatment world can be easy for some but challenging for others so this is a good place to bonce ideas or just to support each other.

    I am pleased that you found the Dr Peter Harvey paper After Treatment Finishes - Then What? helpful - it does highlight the post treatment milestones very well.

    I often encourage folks that they may find it initially beneficial to do some ‘self-help’ so after reading through the paper use it as a vehicle for change and life improvement.

    So get a note book or some sheets of paper and put pen to paper - it is a good way forward.

    So a page per subject heading. Start detailing the things you have done already to move life on in each area and then start to set some achievable goals to work towards. 

    When you achieve the first goal on each lists, tick it off and then put a new goal at the bottom of the list. By doing this you can actually see your progress and celebrate achievements. When I say celebrate I do mean giving yourself treats and gifts........ you have life - celebrate it.

    The headings would be:

    What steps am I taking to regain trusts in my body?

    What steps am I taking to regain trust in myself?

    What steps am I taking to overcome living with uncertainty?

    What steps am I taking to deal with the world?

    What steps am I taking to regain mastery and control of my life?

    Try it, the future is sitting in front of you - think about driving a car. The big windscreen shows the future, the past is in the little mirrors and is getting smaller and more fuzzy as we move forward.....if you concentrate on the past you crash.

    Have a think about this, even give it a go and get back to me ((hugs))

    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

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  • Hi, , yes you are definitely not alone in this!! Just keep talking on here, and do little things to move forward, baby steps. I too am now trying to reinvent my future as will very shortly be taking ill health retirement from one of my jobs (the other I work for myself) so need to take stock of what I want to get back from existing to living. Here to help if I can, we could bounce ideas!

  • Hi Gemmary

    Thanks for your reply. Baby steps definitely seems to be the way to go. 

    Reinvent is a good way of looking at things. I think that's what I need to do as the old me and my old life seem to have disappeared. What sort of business do you have? I've got a small craft business and thankfully my motivation for this is slowly returning. It seems to be the only thing I can get interested in. I don't want to go out or see people which in some ways is not a bad thing as the world is a pretty bleak place these days. I'm just worried that I'll completely withdraw at some point. 

    I also feel like I am existing rather than living. Why does cancer change everything? I don't feel like me at all - I'm turning into a cranky old hermit.

    Any advice would be welcome and I wish you well in your business.

    C x

  • Thank you, I'll give your suggestions a go.

    Hugs are most welcome at the moment.

    C x

  • Do check for a local Maggie's Centre (or similar) as these folks are amazing. They run some great courses and it a wonderful place to connect with like minded people….. when I say local, up in Inverness where I stay, we have people who will happily do a 4hr round trip drive from the West Coast to attend some of the groups…. but this is a Highland thing that you have to drive distances for anything.

    I often talk on here about the concept that when we first get our cancer diagnosis we all get an invisible ruck-sack put on our backs.

    We then walk through our journey including our treatments, clinics, blood tests, scans, side effects……. and unknowingly, we continually throw stuff into the ruck-sack…… and the stuff builds up. It’s only when we finished our treatment (rang the bell) and look to try and ‘live’ life we realise that it’s not that straight forward.

    This is due to the weight of the ‘stuff’ we have collected in the ruck-sack pulling us down…. stuff like pent-up anxiety and stress, the ‘what if’s’, the difficulty in seeing a way forward with life, the disappointments around how some of our family and friends supported us, the silly things people said during and after treatment….. the list goes on.

    There comes a time when we hit ‘the wall’ and this is the point when this ruck-sack needs to be taken off out backs and over time cleaned out. It’s not an instant fix but a process…. but the healing process can only start when we are willing to do it and to achieve this we often need help so these are some links that you may want to follow up and see where you can find this help.

    One thing I did have to deal with was survivors guilt as I lost some very good friends to different cancers over my years and "why did I survive and they did not".......... but this was where our local Maggie's Centre was a life saver.

    Crafting Heart eyes my daughter has an online craft supply business based in the Highlands so I spend enjoyable Wednesday afternoons cutting material ready to be sent all over the country indeed the world Joy

    More ((hugs))

    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

    Community Champion Badge

  • Hi Carolyn321, I feel the same as you as regards the withdrawing from life.  I already suffer with depression but now I feel even a walk to the other side of the island is a major trip.  I don't visit pubs or clubs and if it's not raining I'm up on my alottment every day, it's my safe, hideout space.  

    The whole reinventing thing at 59 is something I was doing before my cancer appeared as I've given up my nursing registration, a career I've done all my life plus some emotional work from gaslighting by my mother.  I'm trying to get the courage to apply to do a degree course right now before the expiry date on government loans hits me at age 60!

    It's being "in limbo" time I think right now while we recover and plan for our future, something we certainly couldn't do when initially given our diagnoses.  I'm going to try and approach it practically as The Highlander says by writing down goals on paper but not punishing myself by putting any time constraints onto the goals.  It's not an easy time. Take care xx 

  • Morning, , yes mine is a craft based one, making mostly headcollars for alpacas  (other animals available!) So throughout these last years muscle memory has worked quite well in making them. Except just now, as I've had to change the motor on my sewing machine for a modern one, and it reacts differently, but getting there!! 

    My old life seems to have vanished too, and it is difficult trying to adjust to each new normal as it presents itself, continuous change does not a foundation make. So grasp at whatever is solid, my business has helped, as sewing a headcollar on autopilot means I've done something tangible. I find I can only sensibly work in the morning as by 2 or 3 the fatigue hits (mostly probably from long covid rather than chemo, but who knows) and I have to have chill time. The main reason for giving up my day working at a high school as a DT technician , it made me too shattered. 

    Perhaps you could aim to spend an hour , at a good time of day for you, planning or doing work on your craft? Don't pressure yourself but even 5min might get you into a routine, which might help. 

    Anyhow take care, ((hugs))

  • Hi

    Thank you for all that. Unfortunately, my nearest Maggies is miles away and I don't really do travelling at the moment. 

    I love the backpack analogy, very apt, it makes sense of some of the things I'm feeling. Not that I'm very sure what I'm feeling at the moment. I think I might give this cancer coaching thing a go. It's true that no one who hasn't been through what we have can understand. It might be good to talk.  I thought I could put all this cancer stuff behind me now that treatment is over but it doesn't seem to work that way.

    Thanks again

    Carolyn x

  • Hi

    Spending time in your allotment sounds great I used to have one. Good luck with the degree course. What a great thing to do at our age.

    I'm just hoping I can get myself focused on something soon. 

    You take care too xx

  • Hi

    Wow headcollars for alpacas - that's different. Good luck with that I hope you get to grips with your new machine.

    I hate change so that doesn't help much with everything that's happening at the moment. I try to do an hour or 2 crafting each day but I stop when I've had enough. Having a routine is helping me a bit.

    I just thought that when treatment finished I would be able to leave cancer behind and get back to normal but no one understands how I'm feeling.

    Take care xx