A year on

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Hello everyone, new to this having avoided exploring any sort of emotional support for a year and trying to convince myself there's nothing to be sad about any more. 

I was diagnosed with Grade 2 Stage 2 ER+ breast cancer a year ago this Thursday. I had surgery in October, two rounds of egg freezing and then radiotherapy. I am now having hormone therapy and will be having this for 5 years. Since I finished radiotherapy in January, everyone has treated me as if it's all fine now. I've managed to convince myself that all is fine. Until this time a week ago, when out of nowhere came in overwhelming sense of sadness, guilt and just what feels like a totally unreasonable emotional wave.

I'm not sure how to cope with it, I'm not sure why it's happening, I'm not sure how to move forward. Is this delayed grief? PTSD? 

Any and all thoughts welcome. Thank you all. X 

  • Hello!

    I came on here today as next week it will be a year since my diagnosis, stage 3 colon cancer. I finished my chemo in June and got the all clear in July. I have my first follow up appointment in November (a year after my surgery).

    I know what you mean, once my treatment finished everyone goes back to treating you like normal and that’s been great, but a few days ago I started feeling down and uneasy, have had letters for blood tests and CT scan for before my appointment. Cannot believe it had been a year since my colonoscopy and my whole world was turned on it’s head!  

    I guess it’s probably normal for us to feel like this, I feel guilt as I should be happy, but it’s a constant thing at the back of my mind! I am guessing it will get easier as time goes by. 
    I feel like my life will never be ‘normal’ again.

    Don’T think any of that answers your questions or helps, but wanted to let you know you are not on your own feeling that way.

    Take care


  • Hi  and  welcome to this little corner of the community. I see the post treatment part of the journey being the final third of the journey and this can be as hard as the first 2 two thirds put together.

    The first third is everything to do with getting a clear diagnosis and the stress and anxiety getting to the point of treatment.

    The middle third is the treatment, yes it’s hard work but you go through this along with the ‘safety blanket’ of regular contact with your clinical teams as well as being in a routine……… then bang……. you are into the ‘post treatment’ world and most people are not ready for this…….. and the NHS System tends not to have the money, time and staff to get this part right.

    During the first two thirds our bodies go through so much and once we finish treatment it like ‘let’s get some normality’ back.

    The initial burst of enthusiasm often tends to quickly lead to a dip as our bodies can only take so much before it’s starts to complain and then our minds and go into overdrive and we can end up going down a rabbit trail…… and it can be hard to dug ourselves out.

    The initial tool I recommend to you look at is this great paper After Treatment Finishes - Then What? by Dr Peter Harvey as it highlights the post treatment milestones.

    The others routes can be talking, yes you may well find this group helpful but you may want to look to see if you have a local Maggie's Centre especially their Where Now? Course and One on One support.

    Do check for any Local Macmillan Support in your area.

    Macmillan have also teamed up with BUPA to offer up to 6 free counselling sessions for people struggling emotionally because they are living with cancer. Clicking on the link will give you more information about this.

    Do come back with your thoughts about the paper.

    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

    Community Champion Badge

  • Hi  

    Thank you for your reply, it is a very strange time. But it is good to know others feel and have felt the same way,

    Thank you again


  • Hi again bex, I have lived with and been treated for an incurable cancer for over 24 years so I have had many post treatment periods most only lasting no more than 9 months so learned quickly to live in the moment and live life to the full……. More so now that I am coming up to 8 years out from my last treatment so at the moment this is a dream.

    Striving to define how your live post treatment is important rather than your cancer journey defining you.

    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

    Community Champion Badge

    1. Hi  

    well done for reaching out, I can relate to your experience. I’m all done with treatment and went back to work thinking carry on as normal and fell apart… I’ve got a couple more weeks on a fit note but feeling worse each week. I thought it was radiation effects but now 5 weeks post radiation im thinking this is the tamoxifen and menopause symptoms. I feel depressed and sore and itchy a lot and can’t focus as long as usual. I’m reading around tamoxifen and risks of recurrence and looking at my options for quality of life. 

  • Hi thank you for your post I am now 1 year post op for oesophageal cancer, this time last year I was in ICU and not expected to survive.  Following leaving hospital and post op chemo I really focused on my physical recovery and I’ve gone from struggling to walk around the house to walking 5+ miles several times a week.  However a month ago I started a phased return to work and I can’t believe how hard it is.  I have started to have panic attacks and I’m crying a lot.  My GP wants to sign me back off but I want to go back to normal.  
    I have reached out to both macmillian counselling and my GP but both have suggested I need more specialist help as I am suffering from PTSD.  
    I thought I had done the hard bit but this is just as ,if not harder.  

  • I have found the local Macmillan Centre really helpful. I'm doing aFingers crossed creative writing course, everyone knows what a cancer diagnosis is like even the tutor. Good to explore some of the issues in writing. 

    Last week we wrote about what we wished the oncologist or medics had said. It has triggered a flurry of writing for me. You can never forget you had cancer treatment or the fear it may come back and why should you. I think being told to put it behind you by someone who thinks they know better than you is not on. 

    Not everyone can say this out loud but you can think it and say it to someone who can cope with you thinking that way. 1st Mammogram post treatment for BC tomorrow. 

    Fingers crossedFingers crossedFingers crossed

  • I'm on Tamoxifen, I take Antihistamines, someone on BC forum recommended them. Last week I ran out for a whole week, my skin became itchy, was driving me nuts. My sleep isn't great, my GP has prescribed Melatonin, it's not a complete success but at least I sleep a bit longer. I got down to 2 hrs. I've been on Tamoxifen 6 mths it'sDove at it's peaked of efficiency my husband told me. Handy to have someone at the appts, I don't remember everything.

    Hope it settles down for both of us. I found Letrozole worse. X

  • Good morning   Good that you found the local Mac Centre helpful and great you have got into writing.

    Putting our thoughts down on paper/text is very important. We have nite books going back my 24 years journey. As well as all the medical stuff we put in the note books we also recorded  our thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams…… I am glad to say that some of the hopes and dreams that were recorded during my darkest times are now achieved and new ones are on the list,

    The post treatment journey is like navigating a selection of steppingstones, some takes us close to a better place both physically and mentally, but some tend to go sideways and for a period of time little progress is made….. but we need to look forward and not back.

    The post treatment life is like the old ‘marathon rather than a sprint’ analogy…….. the most important thing is to look to make small steps most days and if you don’t achieve todays step, there always tomorrow ((hugs))

    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

    Community Champion Badge