Life after cancer

This group is for cancer survivors and people who have finished treatment. It is a space to discuss things like the physical and emotional after effects of cancer, returning to work, or trying to move on with your life.

Anyone else's self-confidence disappearing after treatment?

Schussel
Posted by

Hi there, this is the first time I have posted on here. I am a year on after my last chemo and 18 months after surgery to remove gastric NETs (neuroendocrine tumours). During treatment – and straight afterwards – I felt a surprising inner strength and self-confidence. I felt I had survived an ordeal and felt hopeful and positive. As a particularly self-conscious, ‘people-pleaser’ type of person, I also found that I cared much less about what others thought of me – and that worked wonders for my confidence. Although I felt very isolated during treatment, I am lucky to have a supportive hubby and friends. I did a post-treatment ‘Moving On’ course, which I found helpful and I really felt like cancer had put life into perspective; I slowed right down. However, over the last six months, I’ve found life has kind of swallowed me back up. Friends and family have assumed things are back to normal for me but really, mentally – and sometimes physically - I am struggling. My confidence is rock-bottom, I feel like my brain doesn’t fire up like it used to and I am finding that once again I am self-conscious and worrying what people think of me. I know there’s a tough cookie inside of me, but she’s gone and in her place is an emotional, confused person who is trying to juggle kids, an MA and the usual family and social commitments… I almost feel stripped of the strength I discovered during and after treatment.

Does anyone feel the same? And why is it that I feel like this? How come I felt more freedom to be 'me' when I was ill?

Despite regular scans and tests coming back as ‘stable’, it’s like a dark cloud has descended and I don’t know how to shift it. I just feel really negative about life right now and this upsets me a great deal. 

Apologies for the long post - thank you so much for reading.

Schussel
Thehighlander
Posted by

Hi Schussel and a second welcome to the Online Community.

I am a 20 year veteran of living with cancer and I can totally identify where you have been and where this has taken you. In June last year I was discharged from the care of my team that I had been with for many years and it was as though my warm soft duvet had been taken away..... but being a glass half full person I did move on quickly as in reality I had been released from the worry of getting those clinic appointment letters through the post and could focus my attention on moving into my destiny.

The cancer journey is like a Marathon, the first 2/3 are the diagnosis and treatment, the last 1/3 is the post treatment ilife...... our NHS is rather good at the diagnosis and treatment part, but just have not sorted out the post treatment support stuff.

I often will challenge folks just like yourself to become proactive in how they move life on......we all have to make choices.

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 are you taking to regain trusts in your body?

What steps are you taking to regain trust in yourself?

What steps are you taking to overcome living with uncertainty?

What steps are you taking to deal with the world?

What steps are you taking to regain mastery and control of your 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.

((hugs))

Mike - Thehighlander

It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

Schussel
Posted by

Dear Mike, 

I am so grateful to you for replying - thank you for your kind and inspiring words. I am sorry you have been living with cancer for such a long time - that must be tough. You sound very strong and positive. The analogy of the duvet being taken from you is one I can understand even though my experience has been for a shorter amount of time.

You advice is spot on. I really like the idea of headings and goals - I need this in my life right now! I think some kind of structure is helpful and to reflect on how far I have come is something I rarely do. I admit to getting too hung up on the moment and what more I could still achieve. Reflecting on the past in a positive way is something I am trying to do, whilst not looking back too much and focusing more on the future and what it holds. 

Thank you also for the link to the article. 

Since I wrote my original post a few days ago, I achieved something really great in my work and it has given me a much-needed boost. I am planning to treat myself and feel proud of myself for what I've managed to do. It's these things that I will keep hold of next time I experience a dip (the roller-coaster mentioned in the article is so true) and write down under the headings you suggested.

Thanks again, Mike. And all the best with your own journey. Keep inspiring others on here, as it really does help and I appreciate your time and comments very much.

Schussel. 

Schussel
Thehighlander
Posted by

Good morning Schussel and I am so pleased that you found my advice helpful, give it a go, as working though all the headings can be very therapeutic but obviously challenging so be kind to yourself.

Yes, my wife and I are very positive people but not that strong, more able to persevere when the going gets tough would be more like it.

All the best and we are always around to help support from the sidelines

Mike - Thehighlander

It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

Schussel
Posted by

Thank you, Mike.

All the best and I hope you have a restful weekend.

Schussel