Imposter syndrome and Breast cancer

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Hello all, I am new to the forum, so Hello to everyone.  I was diagnosed with an invasive ductal cancer grade 1 in March and had my surgery on the 24th of April.  I am waiting for my radiotherapy treatment in July . I am so grateful that my surgery went as expected,  however I have never anticipated how the cancer would impact me mentally. I have been off work for 4 weeks now and I feel that I should have been back to work by now. I am just not mentally ready to face a very busy work place at present,  especially before the radiotherapy treatment. At the same time I feel like an imposter and guilty for not being able to funtction as normal yet? When is the right time to go back to work, before or after radiotherapy?


  • Hi, I really wouldn't push yourself to go back till ready. I am 7 weeks now, I recovered from the masectomy well, but mentally I have suffered, I am still awaiting all results and treatment plan, and this has contributed to feeling very low and anxious. I would be more of a burden that help at work. So my advice take your time, its a big thing, go back too early you will only end up off again. Be kind to yourself. 

  • Thank you Kay. I just need to be kind to myself which can be hard.

  • You really do need to, take time out, get help with any mental health issues, do some nice things for yourself, and go back when you ready to cope. Take care 

  • If you can stay off , I’d stay off and take some time to look after yourself . I went back to work for a few hours between surgery and radio but no pressure and I only dipped in , mainly from home , part time .

    look at Breast Cancer Now “ Moving Forward” course . The august dates are already out . And MacMillan offer 6 counselling sessions , usually a wait but if you register now, you may get a slot post treatment x 

  • Thank you so much for the info. I will definitely look into it further. All the best x

  • Hi Aggie L,

    I am in the same position as you, I’m five weeks post op and awaiting radiotherapy. I know we intend to think we are ’Superwoman’ because we are feeling somewhat better, but you have to think of number one now and take your time over this.

    Its funny, because one moment you are trundling along thinking I’m feeling much better, than the next thing is you’re feeling tired  and a bit rubbish and no, you are not an imposter. You must be kind to yourself and take things easy, work will still be there long after you are gone. I go for a walk every day, do my exercises every day and also do a daily diary, this is mega helpful. If you need to, listen to a meditation podcast, I find these really help me to relax, especially at night when I’m trying to sleep.

    Take care of yourself and come and chat here anytime.

    Love and hugs.x

  • I feel very grateful for all the support I have received  today. Thank you so much for all the support. All the best wishes and plenty of hugs x

  • Hi Aggie L welcome to the forum.. you need to be kind to you and you are in no way an imposter you have been through the mill. It feels sometimes like you step on a treadmill, keep pushing and then it goes quiet and that's when the thoughts have time to slip in and catch us off guard. You do what feels right for you this is your body and only you know what will make things feel OK for you.                                               Sending some huge big hugs your way for now. X


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  • Thank you Gail. All the best wishes and plenty of hugs. Aggie

  • Hi Aggie I was diagnosed in Jan, surgery Feb started zoladex and Anastrazole April and then radiotherapy today. I have been off work for 4 months now but have used the time to come to terms with everything, to relax and recover and to attend workshops giving info on how to manage this whole thing. Each stage I found from diagnosis to radio has required learning a new language and mastering side effects and I think having the time off work has really really helped my body deal with it all. I’m about to go onto half pay though! At points I have felt imposter too as people will say things like “it’s only radiotherapy” or it was caught early as if this journey is easy!