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Feeling lost post chemo and surgery. Can't seem to recognise myself in the mirror. Anyone feeling this way?

Posted by

Hi all,

So i was dignosed with stage 4 metatastic cancer in my breast and liver in May 2017. Had 12 cycles of chemo, wide local area excision, reconstruction and now continuing on peruzumab and trastuzumab indefinitely. I know i should be thankful that i am still alive and i am greatly so, however i am struggling a little.. i went through a period of mild depression and anxiety. I thought i pulled myself out of it .. but recently.. i start to feel a disconnect between who i am looking at and who i am on the inside if that make sense. I cant seem to recognise myself most of the time. In a philosophical way . I just dont recognise the person in the mirror. The me i used to know and i dont know what to do with this new feeling or how to handle it. I dont feel bad or good about myself. I just dont know who i am and how to feel. . Anyone feeling the same? Btw, I have a 3 year old daughter, whom i believe is the reason i am still here. 

Posted by

Hi Ally,

Welcome to the forum although I am really sorry to read about what you are currently going through. You are definitely not alone with your feelings. I recognize a lot of what is in your post. 

Have you explored talking therapies? They definitely helped me process a few things when I needed it most.

I reckon we never go completely back to our old selves. But I do think with time we can get to a place where we are ok with where we are at. I would also say you are still quite close to treatment, and in my experience it can take a long time to process things emotionally. And for me, emotions come in waves, they are not linear, so oftentimes it’s not easy to permanently pull yourself out of things like anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, there is no handbook with these things, most times I just find myself muddling through as best I can.

I hope this helps and please know you are not alone in feeling the way you do. 

All the best


Posted by

Hi ally, if you think of a cancer diagnosis as an earthquake, an earthquake has aftershocks, some times days weeks and months afterwards, and the ground underneath is never the same as before. Maybe that's why you don't see the same person in the mirror as before, you have been on a journey to your hinterland and discovered parts of yourself that probably would had laid undiscovered without your experiences with cancer. You can with time convert this into a positive thing by letting go of your old priorities and embracing your life with a new perspective, one where all that matters is the joy you can gain from your 3 year old daughter, let her take you by the hand and she will help you see the world through her eyes where everything is fresh and new and full of hope. I say all this from the point of view of someone living with cancer myself and facing the daily challenge of keeping myself moving in a forward direction.

best wishes 

johnty, female


Posted by

Hi Ally and a third welcome to the Community. As Greg has said, some ‘one on one’ help can unpack what you have been through.

You may find our various Macmillan Support Line Services on 0808 808 00 00 helpful as you can talk to a friendly person that can help in various ways including checking on support networks on your local area.

You could also check if you have a Maggie’s Centre near you as they do run some great post treatment courses.

I often post this great paper and a lot of folks will actually say that they think that the paper had been written just about them.

As you go through the paper it is worth reflecting on each heading and think about what you have done already to move life on in each area and then start to set some achievable goals to work towards and when you actually see progress, celebrate achievements. When I say celebrate I do mean giving yourself treats and gifts.

All the best.

Mike - Thehighlander

It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

Posted by

Hi Greg,

Thank you for your message, advice and support. I am glad to hear that you are back to work. I hope you are remission now and that things are looking upwards for you even though we know the journey forward is not going to be a straight forward one. I was very much oblivious to the impact cancer has on ones life until i was diagnosed with it myself a couple of years back and i truly don't wish it on anyone else. It takes you by surprise and completely turn your life upside down. I now have so much admiration for people whose lives have been touched by this horrible disease. 

I am picking up the pieces right now and  desperately trying to put my life back together but things just don't quite fit together like before. Perhaps its time to turn the chapter, stop looking back and start creating a different future , one that is different from the one we have previously planned. Easier said than done eh.. but at least we are all still here to give life a 2nd chance.