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Post treatment anxiety

hope4thebest's picture
hope4thebest
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

It has been awhile since I've written much, everything is going well, according to plan.  I am 18 mos out from diagnosis and know that I am lucky, but don't feel complete, yet.  Surgery has been my treatment plan with a few lumpectomies followed by a double mastectomy and reconstruction.  I am still pretty sore.  We are all different, I try to embrace this opportunity to live without cancer.  Most definitely, I know that cancer is never done with me.  Nothing is certain.

I guess my anxiety is now coming from the fact that I am beginning to understand that I will never be the same, and the future is so unknown.  Will I ever feel 'better'?  The muscle pain, and emotional pain from this has profoundly hit my core.  I have you to share this with because so very few poeple understand.  I think my deepest fear is that new people will be afraid of me and not want to associate with me because I am still limited by all this pain and general weakness.  So many of my old friends are keeping a safe distance from me, but more improtant for me is that I don't want to be single forever.

It's still hard to do alot of the things that I used to do.  Talking is esp difficult, I'm sure that my vocal chords have suffered during one or more of those 7 times in the OR.  Doc says they'll get better someday.  My voice is alot huskier and maybe that could be a good thing, as it kinda creates a seductive tone.  Doing anything with my laptop is irritating because my muscles hunch over too much.  I need to keep good posture, otherwise my back hurts.  I am thinking of getting an iphone, but sometimes think I just have to accept that I cannot do these things right now.

In my past life, pre-cancer, I was dating and now have realized that my bc has limited my ability to have children, I am getting old and after this ordeal, my body is really tired.  I have to hope for the best and know that there are many families out there that I can be involved with.  It is hard having life happen so quickly without our control.  All of the sudden, my status has changed.  By now, I thought i would have my own family.

Yes, I am taking antidepressants along with valium at nite to sleep, because the citalopram gives me insomnia, so I am trying to find this new balance.  I am feeling alot of PTSD, loud noises really startle me.  My final surgery was last November, so it will be alot easier from here.  

The strange thing is that I look great, no-one knows that I have had such drastic medical care.  It is has been a wild ride.

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 7907
Joined: Aug 2005

Oh, deaheart, I remember it well what you are feeling.  I believe that it happens to all of us...terms like 'new normal' and 'survivor' are shared with frequency.

As far as me, it took awhile to wrap my head around that I WAS going to live!  With my first cancer, stage III rectal, the odds were not at all in my favor to last more than 6 months.  Once that passed, and then the treatment/recovery on the breast cancer was finished...I sort of felt like a graduate of high school...what do I do now?

So, I plunged into volunteer work in cancer-related areas.  I became a Legislative Ambassador with the ACS.  It kept me busy, traveling first to Washington and then to Sacramento to raise cancer awareness.  And I had many newspaper and magazine articles written about me.  It filled my need to 'give back', realizing that some people would lose their fight, while I was doing well.  And, as a result, dealt often with 'survivor's guilt'.  

After 2 years with the strong cancer focus, I started rebuilding my long-term life.  This included acceptance of the 'new me'....a large up-and-down scar on my belly, scars on my breast and under my arm, lopsided bust (I had a lumpectomy that removed quite a bit).  I moved a bit away from such a busy cancer support life, and started getting on, within the restrictions of a 'special' arm, and digestive issues from my resection/J-pouch procedure.  I never completely left my mentoring behind, still do it to this day, but it is now a good balance with other things.  

One thing cancer taught me was to accept myself and be 'comfortable in my own skin'.  Always one who wanted everyone to like me, I have developed an attitude of "I AM a nice person, great friend...but if you don't like me...that's ok too...I'm not going to waste my time trying to convince you".  That was true in intimate relationships, as well.  I will say, I do have a daughter, so that is a bit different than you...but she is D.D. and so I will more than likely never be a grandmother, she could not handle the intensity of motherhood...

I still have people placed in my path that are struggling, and I still take the time to help, both with cancer warriors and others who have life-threatening illnesses.  But my main focus in life is doing the things I want to accomplish before (if) cancer should come again.  Seeing places in the world is high on that list, and I meet the most interesting people on my travels...

So, the short answer I have is that my mantra is: "It's not what you are left with, but what you DO with what you are left with that makes all the difference"....

Hugs, Kathi

 

P.S......yes, dearheart, I have my darker moments...if you check the time stamp on this post, it is 4:21am my time...sometimes the shadows catch up...and I deal with it however necessary, accepting that this monster can still be lurking....

SIROD's picture
SIROD
Posts: 2194
Joined: Jun 2010

No one knows what the future holds.  The best thing to do is living in the "now" as your past is gone and are just memories.  Don't worry if the cancer might come back, when it does, you will deal with it in the same manner as the first time.  Don't waste time thinking about what might never be.  Remember 70% of women and men never have another episode with breast cancer.

When Arimidex had taken hold in 2000 and for the first time in years, I felt good, I wanted to live.  My rib mets showed NED and I went out to do all I could to pick up my life before breast cancer.  I dated, met a man, dated him for several years and then found another and the same.  I was the one to set him free in 2009 as I knew that my situation wasn't going to change.  I did my bucket list, went to all the places my heart desired for so long.  In other words, I lived, I lived and I lived.

No one needs to know about your breast cancer unless you want to tell them. As you stated you don't look like a victim,  so you should not act like one.  No one wants to hear an endless sage of your medical woes.  They are of interest only with those people on boards like this one.  Your family often becomes tired of hearing about them and your friends who have even less reason to hear, don't want too.  

Come here, vent, cry, we all understand.  Out in the world, in the office, in your friends home, in your family home, out socializing, don't talk about breast cancer.  Of course, you could join a local support group for BC and talk about it with these people.  Those who have never experience cancer have no idea what it is like and most don't want to know.

I wish you well, in a life free of cancer and in finding joy in living again,

 

Doris

PatFried
Posts: 45
Joined: Oct 2012

How well you have put it Doris.  THANK YOU.  I'm printing this out and going to read it often.  This is just what I needed today.

Pat

eihtak
Posts: 870
Joined: Oct 2011

So well said, thanks!

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