Is this normal?

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I have been diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer, I start my chemotherapy on 13th of May. 

Now I don't know if this is normal but I don't think it's sunk in really.  I've continued doing everything that I've normally done, have been reading up on my situation but people are saying that I'm taking it extremely well. I haven’t cried, got angry, I've talked to people and everyone knows what is going on and they have all said that they thought I'd be in a state with the news. I found out on the day that my dad passed away from cancer 11 years ago and I just don't think it's sunk in. 

Has anyone else felt like this? 

Did it finally sink in? 

What do you do when it does?

  • Good morning  

    I was diagnosed with bowel cancer 2 months ago after being admitted via A&E for sudden and severe bloating, so having fully expected it to be something more simple, the news it was a tumour completely blocking the bowel was a total shock. 

    I had to have an operation there and then which included a colostomy. However, like you describe, everyone says I took the news exceptionally well. In addition to this, my mum has terminal cancer of the oesophagus which she’s been fighting incredibly hard against for two years now since her diagnosis (she was told 6 months to live initially) coupled with my brother in law suffering a sudden death last May so it’s already been a tricky time and because of that and my own sudden diagnosis, I was referred to the Psychiatry team by the hospital. I had the meeting last week and we spoke through everything and the Psychologist felt I was processing and handling everything in line with expected emotions - feeling anticipatory grief for example makes me cry at times when I am speaking about mum. My anxiety and depression scores were low to zero so I was discharged but told I can just get in touch if things change. 

    Hearing that made me feel better about feeling ‘okay’ about everything as I did start to wonder if I was just numb or emotionless or maybe just waiting for the fall…. but it never came.  Don’t get me wrong - I will be the first to admit there have been low times when I have had a cry or spent some of the night awake worrying about life in general or a particular symptom I have noticed (I started chemotherapy on 12th April), but worry and sadness certainly don’t make up the majority of the time.  I do feel acceptance and feel incredibly grateful for the support friends and family have given unconditionally (I never knew I was so popular Slight smile) and also for the wonderful work of the NHS and Macmillan who you hear so much about but until I was suddenly thrown into the system, I had no clue as to the levels of care, service, support and just general empathy and kindness at all levels. I feel very humbled. 

    I realise that my diagnosis was not terminal and so it means I am lucky to have been given a second chance which will help the way I feel but in answer to your question, in my experience, feeling this way can be ‘normal’ and other than the odd minor wobble, two months in, I haven’t fallen off that cliff just yet. 

    Wishing you all the best for your next steps and sorry to hear about your diagnosis.  

  • When first diagnosed I accepted it but my then partner didn't. I was more concerned at the time to what was happening to us. It took a while to process. I was fortunate to have the sister at the colonoscopy unit phone me every day with updates. She knew exactly what I was going on. 

    I just went along with everything as if I was in a trance. Had the op and on being told no further treatment required broke down not fir me but for others who wasn't going to have that news. Then it hit me hard, what if it came back and the realisation of what happened in the past six weeks. I got some great councelling from here and tried to move on. Eighteen months later I find my life isn't the same, It turned my once happy life upside down.

    I have been given a second chance and although grateful hate what cancer has done to me. 

  • Hi HondaAngie

    i was diagnosed with stage 3 last summer (on my son’s birthday!), had surgery at the end of August, and finished my chemo at the end of January. I also dealt with it all very calmly and practically. I was rather surprised that I did. I think it had a lot to do with staying strong for the kids. I knew if I fell apart, they and my husband would fall apart - and I would not be able to handle their grief on top of my own. That is not to say I did but have wobbles. I spent many a night awake wondering how the hell this happened to me - I did not fulfill any of the ‘at risk’ things. I also had breakdowns with my sister, proper bawling my eyes out sessions. I am quite a practical person anyway - so think that helped as well. Even now, in recovery, I still have to tell myself ‘you had cancer’. It is very surreal. Hope this helps.

  • Hi there  thank you for your reply and reassurance that I'm not emotionally broken haha 

  • going to be honest, I was diagnosed in July 22, straight to surgery 3 weeks later, then 4 rounds of chemo, treatment finished Jan/Feb 23. It still does not seem real, almost like it happened to someone else. I think this was my way of dealing with the whole process. I felt well before diagnosis, only picked up the C following the postal FIT test so was even more a bolt from the blue. I was so fortunate to be able to do my normal routines through chemo and only suffered from neuropathy in my hands/feet which has now disappeared. It still seems surreal but I have been lucky xx