Post treatment insecurity

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Hi everyone, I’m new to the forum. I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in March this year at 31 years old. They found a 5cm tumor which luckily had not spread anywhere else in my body. I had surgery to remove a good bit of my colon and then went through 4 rounds of adjuvant chemotherapy which ended on the 4th of October. I just had a recent CT scan that came up clear which is great news and I am feeling very relieved by the entire situation. My problem is that my emotions feel as if they have been all over the place recently. More so than even when I was going through treatment. I have been feeling very insecure, doubting my relationship with friends and my partner. I have recently returned to work (started a new job) after 4 months out of the office and have been struggling with a lack of confidence and with too much self doubt around my capabilities. My mind has been very unsettled, not knowing what I want to do with my life- move closer to home or move to a different country. Break up with my partner or take our relationship to the next level. Quit my job and find another less stressful career or continue to work through the “new starter” awkwardness. I am so conflicted in every decision that I make and have been feeling so emotional (sad, angry, frustrated) for seemingly no reason. This is all very much not typical for me and my reactions feel very illogical, yet I can’t seem to stop them. Has anyone else felt this way? I feel so lucky to have had such a positive outcome following my diagnosis/ treatment and have had such amazing, supportive people in my life throughout this journey. Therefore I am really struggling to understand my recent emotions/ feelings. Thanks in advance for anyone who takes the time to read and respond.

  • Hi I am the same, emotions are up the wall post op, I have been told about Maggies. Google it for your local centre,I will be visiting my local one. I am also doubtin* if my current career is for me, I think I need something less stressful to be honest

  • Hi again  and well done navigating to this little corner of the community.

    For context I have been on my incurable cancer journey for over 24 years. I have a rare blood cancer but at the moment I am now 8 years since my last treatment so living the dream, you can see my story in this (LINK)….. but make a strong cup of coffee Grimacing

    Navigating the post treatment journey for some, can be just as challenging as some of the first 2/3rds of the journey. The first 1/3rd was diagnosis with the second 1/3rd being treatment.

    At times, living the post cancer journey is like living in a parallel universe - you can see your old life but regardless what you do you can not get back on that same path.

    Following my many years of treatment and now 8+ years into my post treatment life, a situation I was unwillingly put into. It did actually make me review life and everything that we once thought important.

    So some things from our old life are still in our lives but various aspects of our old life that were once seen as important were put in the bin and we don’t miss them.

    I had to retire from my teaching post (that I lived) as my condition was developing and it was just hard to keep up with the work…… cancer can make us wake up and look more further and wider as to what is important and what make you happy.

    There is no map for the post treatment walk but here are a few tools that can help you find your feet.

    You may find it helpful to make a cuppa and have a look at this great paper After Treatment Finishes - Then What? by Dr Peter Harvey as it highlights the post treatment milestones.

    As has been said by  look for a local Maggie's Centre when I say local, as I stay in the Highlands of Scotland it is nothing for folks up here to do a 3-4 hr round trip to our Maggie’s in Inverness (combined with a little shopping) this is how beneficial the serve provided is. They run a very good Where Now? Course and One on One support.

    Do also check for any Local Macmillan Support in your area as the Macmillan run a post treatment course.

    Do come back and tell me what you think about the paper.

    Always around to chat.

    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

    Community Champion Badge

  • Just read the extract- after treatment, it hit quite a few notes there that I am feeling and experiencing. It certainly helps to know all these emotions, and wondering why I am feeling like this, are covered right there! 
    I have to admit I did shed a tear or two as some hit home more than others, and to be honest I have had people close to me, before getting cancer myself, that I thought once the operation was done, they are now ok and I did not need to worry about them.  How wrong was I !! It has only been since having it myself and being on this forum that I have realised, post operation is just another stage of it all.

  • Hi  the cancer journey is navigated at various levels of focus depending on our personal experiences but the paper unpacks this well.

    Do excuse me if I put up a copy and paste from a post I put up some time back…..Wink

    When I post this great paper, folks will actually come back to me and say that they think that the paper had been written just about them.

    But I would always challenge folks to become proactive after reading through it and using 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.

    If you have looked through some of the other posts in this group you may well have seen me talk about the Invisible Ruck-Sack.

    I often talk 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 I got some great help through our local Maggie's especially their Where Now? Course and One on One support.


    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

    Community Champion Badge

  • Hi Tjo (and Suzieblues) nd welcome to here.  What you are feel I'm sorry to say is absolutely normal.  Never underestimate the after effects of a cancer diagnosis!  

    More should be written about it most definitely. 

    All the emotions, the uncertainty about how you should live your life, survivors guilt -- all these feeling are exactly how we feel after treatment/ diagnosis irrispective of the outcome of our treatment.  Cancer changes our lives forever in ways we don't forsee.  It makes us re- evaluate how we live and if we're happy in our lives; it forces us to look at our own mortality too and that's scary. 

    Just let yourselves recover slowly, as the Highlander suggests there's help out there too.  Friends and family don't often "get" this bit of our recovery but they can learn from us just how difficult this part of our journey is. X