One year post treatment - how I am feeling

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Hello all.

I have a history of cancer (hysterectomy plus tubes and ovaries removed in 2011), had VAIN cells removed regularly in the following years and was then diagnosed with vaginal cancer in August 2022. I had the tumour removed and commenced radiotherapy and chemotherapy in early November, completing on 23 December 2022. Due to pain and discomfort I was unable to use the vaginal dilators, my oncologist confirmed excessive scar tissue build up over the years was the cause. She confirmed I did not need to continue with this, she would examine me via scans for future check ups. I now find myself one year post treatment, having had the all clear via scan for the third time. I’ll be getting checked 3/4 monthly for a few years.

My problem is three fold. My treatment has also affected my bowels (scar tissue at rectum) so I am in a permanent state of ibs. I feel tired and lethargic all the time. I have also gained nearly 2 stone in a year and suffer from continual bloating and gas.  Oncologist is not concerned by any of this, advising me to change my diet and exercise more.  I have no energy to exercise and changing my diet has not helped.

I am depressed, not because of the cancer, but because of the side effects. I feel fat, old (62), frumpy, sorry for myself, tired and frightened to eat out of the house in case of accidents.

Thanks for listening. Needed to rant ……….

  • Hi Scotslass

    I hope you do not mind me replying as my cancer was endometrial but I did have some of the same treatment as you. 

    My hysterectomy was in April 2022, I then had chemo and then pelvic radiotherapy. 

    I understand that the side effects of treatment can be tough to manage. I have neuropathy from the chemo and my bladder and bowel have never returned to normal since the radiotherapy.

    I would also liken my effects to IBS. It's not great but I do try and manage it day to day. Dietary changes have helped me but its taken a year to find out what I can and can not eat and to feel confident to go out and do things. Dairy and fibre seem to be a big trigger for me. I am also now lactose intolerant. 

    I haven't put on weight, in fact have lost a fair bit but I think that is having the restricted diet and trying to eat at regular times. I also walk daily. I find the only thing that helps the IBS type symptoms is to have a really regular routine, eating, toilet, exercise. Once a come off the routine then things flare up again. 

    I found PRDA helpful, it may be worth having a look. Pelvic Radiation Disease Association (prda.org.uk)

    I have managed to use the dilators regularly but I suppose in a way I resent them. It's just a reminder along with everything else of what cancer has done. For me the treatment side effects will always be a reminder. 

    With the tiredness, I found it was a good year until it improved. My consultant said chemo can affect you for a good couple of years. I still occasionally have to have a lie down if I do too much. 

    I am sorry to hear of your cancer journey and the lasting side effects of the treatment. It took me a long while to start to feel better and it was very much little steps.

    I will pop a link to some more info that may help.

    After treatment | Macmillan Cancer Support

    This is a link to a blog I wrote a year after my treatment finished. Sometimes it helps to feel that you are not alone in how you feel after cancer. 

    Life One Year Later- Jane’s story - Macmillan Online Community

    Hope this helps a bit.

    Jane

           

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm