Having Trouble Bouncing Back

kbc4869 Member Posts: 159
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1

It will be a year since my last radiation treatment in June 2004. I had lumpectomy/chemo/rad treatment. I am finding the aftermath harder than the diagnosis or treatment. I don't feel like the same person (which isn't ALL bad; I had some life lessons to learn).

I'm tired and achy. I'm beginning to wonder if it is in my mind. I am 36 years old and before this happened was a Type A personality: driven, great memory for detail and no excuses were acceptable–you just worked as hard as you could, didn't complain, and got the job done. I was somebody that everyone at my work knew they could depend on to always get the job done. In fact, I worked through most of the treatment. But six months after treatment, I am tired of being tired. I started calling in sick and taking vacation at the last minute. My boss is wonderful, but she wants to know when this all is going to "end." After trying to come into work full-time, I asked her if I could work from home(my job is flexible and I did this when I needed to during the treatment). I was able to provide her and Human Resources a doctor's note, so am covered, and she knows I am much too obsessive compulsive to not meet all my deadlines and responsibilities. But I sense her disappointment; as if this is something that I'm bringing on myself or perhaps taking advantage because of my condition. I told her I wish I could give her a date when it all would end, but don't have one and really can't provide her with new and original reasons why I feel this way.

I feel guilt ridden -- it's been almost a year. While I enjoy and appreciate the simpler things in life now and have lots of very happy moments, I can't seem to move beyond the last year and half. I am single and have a mortgage to pay, so there are no fall backs. I need the company's medical benefits and my salary. I feel overwhelmed by my emotions, the things that break and need to be fixed in the house, things as simple as taking my cats to the vet, my bills, and every day family and friend demands. Yes, I did all of this before and during treatment on my own, but I feel like now I need to world to stop so I can catch up. I wish I could find that no-nonsense, no-excuses woman that I used to be.

I imagine the energy level is probably related to depression. I am on antidepression meds. I thought being younger and stronger would give me an upper hand. This just isn't the same body I had before. I'm tired even after a good night rest. And this short-term memory makes me feel out of sorts and flaky. I lose concentration often and it takes me longer to get things done.

I appreciate you listening and it feels good to vent. I know that tomorrow will be a better day. I am so grateful for all I have learned and for finding the cancer at an earlier stage. My college roommate (same age as me; diagnosed six months prior to me) died two weeks ago from her cancer. She left behind a husband and two young children. She worked up to three weeks before she died. I feel like a weakling in comparison. She would have killed for a prognosis as positive as mine. But I just cannot seem to pull myself out of this rut.

Thanks -- This board has given me some comfort. Until I came here, I thought I was still riddled with cancer because I'm still so achy and tired. My oncologist and nurse look at me like I have three heads when I tell them I still don't feel like me. I've stopped trying to get them to address the post-treatment issues, because you have taught me that its like this for many of you, and that doctors really don't have all the right answers all the time.



  • SusanAnne
    SusanAnne Member Posts: 245
    Hi kbc,

    Have you thought of counseling? You sound like the type of person to benefit from speaking with a professional.

    You didn't say if your treatment threw you into menopause or not but I know a lot of my emotional ups and downs are hormonal. I lost my period for 13 months but have recently gotten it back again. The ups and downs have taken a toll on me so I have decided to have my ovaries out. If things don't even out afterwards, counseling is next on the list to try.

    Do you think your anti-depressant is working for you? Perhaps a different prescription is in order.

    Try starting a gratitude journal. Whatever you focus on grows, so only allow yourself to think positive thoughts.

    I do agree with you that the aftermath of treatment is harder than treatment itself. My oncologist likes to use the analogy of being in a burning house. Your adrenaline kicks in while you are in the crisis and you find a way through it. It's not until you are sitting on the curb looking back at the house that you actually fall apart.

    I wish you well. You sound like a strong person. Make sure you eat well and get enough exercise. My condolences on the loss of your friend.

    Take care,
  • babycakes
    babycakes Member Posts: 8
    I'm impressed that you worked during treatment! I hear of that happening and I wonder how anyone can do that. I was off work for 14 months, then when I went back it was a challenge with a body that seemed to hurt all the time. My job is very physically active as I take care of disabled folks. I was blessed that I still had a job at the end of the 14 months....thank God. I stayed at a friends' house after surgery and then through chemo therapy. It was good since I am also single.

    I don't know what drugs you received but mine were pretty harsh. I still have some side effects lingering. My doc said I would get past that in 6 months now he says 12 months.....go figure. Every one is different and I'm convinced docs know a lot but not everything. I praise God that they had some treatment they could offer me. Life is precious and I want to continue living. When I got diagnosed I already had two tumors under my right arm and two tumors in each breast.

    I liked the analogy that SusanAnne mentioned about the burning house...it's so true.

    Sorry to hear about your college friend.....it must be hard to have this happen at this time.

    I tend to take time every day and look for the blessings.....then thank God for them. It helps me focus on the good there is in each day post treatment. I take pain meds just to be able to go to work....I'm gratful that there is something I can take.....and so it goes.

    Hope all will work out well for you. We all want to be safe.

    I'm sorry that you have to have the sense of disappointment from your boss.....apparently she has never had to deal with this type of issue in her own life.

    Take care. You can write my e-mail through CSN if you would like to and I'll certainly respond.
  • BuffaloGal49
    BuffaloGal49 Member Posts: 13
    Please hang in there; it does get better, sometimes very gradually and sometimes you'll feel a big surge forward.
    I am 55, 4 year survivor, lumpectomy, re-excision, clear nodes, radiation. I worked as much as I could during treatment; it tapered down, then back up. It's so important to take a day off to rest when the fatigue catches up with you (your boss needs more info). Same for the emotional fatigue. It is HUGE that your college roommate just died; what a blow.
    Do all the self-care things that work for you: support group, moderate exercise, good nutrition, gratitude journal. I found acupuncture helpful, also massage and counseling (antidepressants were a must). I think I finally felt like myself again (the energizer bunny) about 3 years out.
    My support group said, "you'll develop a new 'normal" and that makes sense. Takes a while for peace of mind and sense of safety to return. Please know that your sister survivors are all in there with you!
  • wimpy
    wimpy Member Posts: 58
    Hi kbc;

    I totally identify with everything that you have said with the addition that I feel a little guilty that I don't feel more grateful for how well everything turned out. I am one of the lucky one's who had few negative longterm side effects as the result of treatment. Like you I also got no support from my bosses. One of them told me they were disappointed in my work given that they took a chance on me and hired me when they knew I had cancer. The other one removed my name from her active roster after assuring me that I would have a position to come back to after I finished treatment. My immediate family never came near me while I was being treated and they never called me. I am really screwed because the overall experience left me distrustful of and negatively inclined towards people generally. Too many let downs in too short a time and I can't seem to shake the attitude. All of this whining by me I apologize for but it also feels good to vent. Now here is the part that I hope helps you....I was upset and depressed about my vacant mindedness and the energy required to accomplish everyday tasks (grocery shopping, bill paying etc.) but slowly things improved. Everyday life is not as overwhelming now and I am back to where I think I can handle it.
  • AuthorUnknown
    AuthorUnknown Member Posts: 1,537 Member
    Dear Trouble:

    I just finished chemo/radiation two weeks ago. I had a breakdown in the middle of radiation and went to a therapist for advice. It really helped! I also hired a personal trainer to help me get back into the shape I was before cancer. When I explained to her how I was feeling about not being the same person than I was physically, she plainly said: you're not the same person. You never will be. Let's start from where you are now." Oddly enough, that helped me accept where I'm at. The start of my new life. What I'm trying to say is that I am reaching out to many areas that I wasn't involved in before to be strong mentally and physically. Give it a try.