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After chemo

Posts: 46
Joined: Jun 2002

Ladies, I was in contact with you back when I was first diagnosed in June of this year. I've since had a double mastectomy, silicon implants, and I had my last chemo (A/C 4 treatments) October 25. Well now, I'm more afraid then I was at the very beginning of my experience. Somehow I don't believe that I won't die from this cancer or some other cancer. At my last chemo there was a lady next to me receiving chemo that had developed bone cancer 7 years after breast cancer (not what I needed to hear on that day). I don't want to spend the rest of my life pretending that I'll be OK. And I don't want to be afraid for the rest of my life either. How do I make myself believe that all will work out. Also, I was given my prescriptioin for tamoxifen and told I could begin to take it. I can't make myself take it. I'm afraid to take the tamoxifen. Is that crazy or what. I don't want to go through anymore changes. I don't want to experience the side effects (eventhough they are different for everyone). Could I be so confused because I'm physically drained from the chemo. Seems like everything is such a big deal right now. Any help out there. Linda

Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001

>>At my last chemo there was a lady next to me receiving chemo that had developed bone cancer 7 years after breast cancer (not what I needed to hear on that day). I don't want to spend the rest of my life pretending that I'll be OK. And I don't want to be afraid for the rest of my life either.


You are worn out probably from all you have been through. Keep in mind that no one gets a guarantee of a certain number of years in this world - that's what helps ME. Don't worry about 7 years down the road - good and bad will happen during that time for sure - none of us has a real crystal ball.

As for the tamoxifen - does the fact that millions of women have been taking it for the past 20+ years help you - it does for me.

Try to relax - you JUST finished treatment a few days ago.
Hugs, Jean

Posts: 46
Joined: Jun 2002

Thanks for your help

Posts: 270
Joined: Jul 2001

I felt exactly the way you do when I finished my treatment. I didn't want to take the Tamoxifen either. I watched several of the other patients (unsually much older than myself) get sicker and sicker from various cancers. (The patients with breast cancer always looked good ... we had the best hair hee hee!!) Anyway after about 6 months of obsessive depressed behavior my husband told me to see a doctor. My Doc told me it was very natural to feel the way we do .... the stigma of cancer is still very scary eventhough the statics show such a huge increase in survival. I take Effexor for depression now and it also helps with hot flashes. Yes ... I'm taking the Tamoxifen ... I haven't noticed any side effect except weight gain. The chemo stopped my mentral cycle and the chemo gave me much worse hot flashes than the Tamoxifen ever has. Another thing about the Tamoxifen is that we are lucky to have this additional treatment to fight off the cancer. Some women aren't so lucky and have to go it cold after surgery, radiation and chemo. So ... Linda ... it's okay to be scared and worried ... it will pass and life gets back to a "new" normal ... like you said you can't pretend nothing happened. I think the hardest part for me is not being able to trust my body. Good luck to you ... stay with us and let us know how you are doing. Jamie

Posts: 252
Joined: Apr 2002

I agree with what the others have said - what you're feeling is normal after what you've been through. I finished chemo the end of May and rads the end of August and I've been taking tamoxifen since then. I also take celexa and vitamin E, and the hot flashes aren't too bad. I do have some aches and pains, but don't know what to blame them on. I don't think it's so much a matter of convincing yourself that all will be well as it is accepting the fact that some things are just out of your control. Be kind to yourself. Take care of the things you can control. Find your "new normal" - that's what a bc survivor friend of mine calls whatever is normal for you after treatment. Cancer is the pitts - no one wold deny that, but it also brings with it some gifts, some feelings we have about life that others can't share. I'm finding myself very grateful for each day, and that has helped me not worry so much about the future. Diane

Posts: 704
Joined: Jul 2001

Hi Linda;

Telling you that things will get better, probably isn't much help to you right now but it's true.

About taking the Tamoxifen: Only you can decide what's best for yourself. Listen to your doctors, do some research, talk to other's who've taken it and then decide what you're most comfortable doing. There's no reson you have to make your decision this minute. Take your time.

It's normal to feel anxious after completing treatment. It's a feeling like: "Well, I've done all I can do, so now what"?

Well, for starters, you can focus on taking the best care possible of yourself. Diet, exercise, relaxation and surrounding yourself with positive thinking people. This can help keep your immune system functioning at its best and it means less time spent worrying. Talk honestly with your doctor, perhaps go for a few counseling sessions to see if it's worthwhile to you.
Whatever you do, don't just do nothing and wait for it to all fade away on its own. It won't.

Put your energy into controlling things you have the ability to control and get a system for placing everything else...those negative or futile worries...into the trash. Get yourself a mental filing system of sorts or just write your feelings down. Add to or cross off things as suits you. Try to make at least one "positive" entry every single day. Even if it's just something which seems small. All progress is good progress. Read a new book, take up a new hobby, associate with at least some people who know nothing about your bc. That was helpful to me in taking my mind off it all and just having a good ole casual conversation about mundane things.

Self help books are great but don't feel overwhelmed by them. Pick and choose what you think may work for you and leave the rest. There's a good book by Dr. Bernie Siegel, titled: How to Live Between Office Visits. It's a wealth of resources, humor and hope. If nothing else, it's good reading. And you'll find that it's not just for people who've had bc. It's for the thousands of us who've had a life changing experiece which requires some work on our part to find healing. You're certainly not alone!

A nice long bubble bath or hopping into the whirlpool or whatever is a great idea too.
Baby yourself. Light your favorite scent candles while you soak and play your favorite music. Get a professional massage, mud bath or make up session every once in a while. Go to a day spa and get the works and come home feeling like a million bucks, inside and out. All the while, realizing that you deserve to pamper yourself a little. Acutally, right now, the more pampering, the better!

Hope some of these suggestions may be helpful to you on some level. Just experiemnt and explore and find ways that work for you.

Ask yourself this...after all you've been through, are you now going to allow fear to rule your life? Ask yourself what you're likely to accomplish by worrying about cancer all the time. Everything medicine and science can do is done. It's over. No one can say you'll never have cancer again. Accept that. It's not easy but it's true. Me, I prefer to think that I'll live to a ripe old age and die of something totally unrelated. In the meantime, I don't want to spend my moments (many of them precious)in what I know is a waste of time. Otherwise, I could live for 20 more years with no joy in my life. Not really living...just wasting my days worrying. THAT scares me more than my bc coming back!!!

Just grab your emotional self by the horns and endeavor to to give it your best go. It's the best thing we can do for ourselves, those we love and our futures.

Please let us know how it's going and here's a big, big hug to help you on your way.

Love, light and laughter,

Posts: 104
Joined: Apr 2002

hiya, Linda,
when i was first diagnosed all i could think about was my aunt that died of it. my son was 2 mo. old. i cried for days. everytime i was left alone i couldn't do anything but cry. then one day i looked at my baby and i decided i wasn't going to die. this cancer WAS NOT going to defeat me. my son needed me and cancer was not going to take me away from him. that's the whole point---ATTITUDE!!! i have been through chemo, lumpectomy, more chemo, radiation (34) and many, MANY scans. i'm through with treatment now and i feel great. i had a burn the last two weeks of radiation but it healed quickly. i also take tamoxifen--no side effects so far. one thing that i do to help me keep a positive attitude is if i wake up in the morning i thank God that He brought me through the night. if i get to go to bed at night i thank God that He gave me another day with my hubby and son. i know it's hard but you can't dwell on the "what ifs". you will be a basket case and the cancer has won. don't let it. we're here for you any time you need us. hope this helps. God bless. Vicki

Posts: 317
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi Linda...I'm so sorry you're up in arms. Congrats on finishing chemo!!! I, too, had a lot of fear of recurrence at first. My onc gave me a book called "Living Beyond Breast Cancer," by Marisa Weiss that really helps you to deal with the aftermath of all this. I would highly recommend the book...you can get it at any major book store, or online at Amazon.com. It really helped me to read that all the feelings I was having were common enough that this Dr. knows all about it. As for the tamoxifen, I've been on it almost a year. I started getting nasty hot flashes, but in "Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book," my husband read that 800 IU of vitamin E daily helps some women with the hot flashes. I was fortunate enough to be one of the ones that it worked for. I now only have 2 or 3 hot flashes a week, instead of 5 or 6 a day, and the ones I do have are far less severe than they used to be. I have had a problem with my hair getting brittle, and coming out and breaking, which is a rare side effect. The company claims they have never had anyone go bald from this, and it happens in a very low percentage of women anyway. My hair is kind of baby fine now, but still looks fine, and by taking a hair booster vitamin and using good products on my hair, it's getting back to normal. Other than that, I have had no side effects that are bothersome. I've had some trouble in the last couple months with not being able to sleep all but it's nothing a generic benadry won't cure. I remember reading that this can happen as well. I still have my period every 27 - 30 days, but they are lighter than they used to be. The risk of recurrence is much less if you take the tamoxifen for 5 years, and I keep that in mind, because it helps me to feel like I'm still doing something to keep it from coming back. I hope I've helped at least a little. This whole cancer thing is scary, but you can get through it. Look what you've been through already...you're a trooper! Take care, and God bless, Cyndi

Posts: 31
Joined: Jul 2002

Dear Linda;
Just let me and anyone else who can wrap their arms around you and give you a very big hug. That warmth and reassurance is what you need.
All the sisters here are survivors. I know it is sometimes easier said than done, but
you've got to get an attitude, girl! You can only live one day at a time (I know, old saying...but very true, I have discovered living with an alcoholic was my trainig ground for living with cancer.
I am so grateful for every day.
Get yourself something to look forward to that has nothing to do with your disease.
Read all the books you want, but get something set up in the future that you want to do. I took a ride in a hot-air balloon a few weeks ago. I have always wanted to go on one...now I am not putting off ANYTHING I have wanted to do. I am putting it on a list and ticking them off. Even if it is expensive...I get such a kick out of this that it has helped me tremendously.
Also, as the saying goes "Stick with the winners". Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Take in their energy.
Hang in there.
P.S. I have two friends on tamoxifen. Neither one have problems with it. I am on Femara (not candidate for tamox.) and I am OK on it, too.

Posts: 46
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi Linda,
Hang in there! Every month that passes is a new emotional milestone. I just passed my one year mark and I still feel panicked at times. I still on occasion have to remind myself to breath and relax. The fear does diminish over time. For me, it has been replaced with an occasional twinge of panic. I had a double mastectomy and was told I did not need tamoxifin because of the surgery I chose. I did not, however, have chemo. Maybe that is the difference. I recommend getting a second opinion.
good luck and be good to yourself!!!!

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