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I'm such a mess

Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2003

Had single mastectomy, 10 lymph nodes removed, followed by chemo and Tamoxifen 3 1/2 years ago.

We have just returned to the States from living in a Middle Eastern country for 7 years. I had the surgery & treatment here. My husband had to go back over there to work. Came back when I was finished, collected me and we returned home. I was here for so long that they had to replace me in the job I had held. First time in about 30 years that I haven't worked.

Had a good follow-up oncologist over there who had spent 10 yrs working in Chicago before going back to his country, knew his stuff medically, but I couldn't talk to him much. There really isn't much, if any emotional support for breast cancer surviviors in that part of the world. Cultural, religious & language barriers that I, at least, couldn't figure out how to surmount.

All this time I have struggled with the sense of mutilation. I've gained 30 lbs. Have mild to moderate lymphadema. I can't look at myself in the mirror, I can't talk about any of this without crying. My husband has been and still is, so gentle and very supportive. He has told me till he is blue in the face that he is so glad I'm alive, that he loves the inside of me and not just my breasts. But, I can't get out of this rut, no, it is more like the Grand Canyon. Our sex life has almost become nonexistant. Me feel sexy? ? ? You have to be kidding! ! ! !

Such a dramatic change in me. I have always been active, outgoing, loving, excited about life. No more. All I want to do is sit in the house and read or watch TV. Don't want anyone to come over, nor to go anywhere.

Called a local hospital re: their Survivor's meeting, then I couldn't make myself go cause I felt so ashamed that I was (at least so far) free from cancer and just hung up on the physical aspects. Reading through the messages on this website, I notice that so many women are still in the middle of their treatment. They are still battling the OGRE, and I feel more shame. Nonetheless I can't figure out how to get on top. Not sure that anyone really needs to answer me, just thought I might feel a little better if I put this all in writing.

May God grant better health to all,

Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2003

Hello, Im new at this I don't have cancer and my sex life is none exsisting!(smile). My mom has lung cancer and I think I can understand someof what you are feeling. But take each day as a gift because you are blessed to be here and have such a loving husband.

rosie43539's picture
Posts: 56
Joined: Mar 2003

mahawk, did your dr. discuss breast reconstruction with you? I know it has to be traumatic. I am a survivor of ovarian cancer and my husband is currently battling stage IV renal cell cancer. My mother had breast cancer almost 30 years ago. Sadly it was to late for her. But I thank God for the dawning of each day and for allowing me every morning to wake up beside the love of my life. It sounds like your husband is very supportive. Check into reconstruction and remember "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" Your husband loves you just like you are, someway you have to find a way to love yourself and your body again. I don't know how you feel, but I know how it feels to feel unattractive. Lost all my hair during chemo but it came back your breast won't. Let God and your husband love you through this.

Posts: 29
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi Mahawk,
I had a single mastectomy (Stage 3 invasive ductile)a year ago yesterday. I ahd 6 nodes removed (3 pos). I had reconstruction (Free TRAM) at the same time. I then had 4 rounds each of AC and Taxol and then about 6 weeks of radiation. During the whole time I was recovering from surgery and going through treatment, I had a lot of support from family, friends, and my oncology staff. Like you said, it was doing the battle, doing something to actively get rid of the cancer. After all of the treatment was done, all of my friends, family, oncologist, even co-workers, said how strong and inspirational I was since I could always make a joke about it (my hockey team gave me a purple and teal mohawk on my 32nd birthday, after my second chemo). Now, I feel like you in some ways. I feel damaged, even though it doesn't look too bad. It's especially hard since I'm so much younger than a lot of people who go through this. Luckily my husband is very supportive (though he doesn't really understand), and I have a good friend network, but it's still really hard sometimes.
I don't think you should feel ashamed in any way. We've been through something that's very difficult, both emotionally and physically, and it can take a lot of time to heal from it. A lot of people find that mild antidepressants can make a world of difference. I have been taking wellbutrin for about 6 months and am thinking of slightly upping the dose. It's helped a lot. When you're under a lot of stress, your body chemistry changes and you can get chemically-based depression. Add emotional stress on top of that and you can really get in a hole. There's no more shame involved in taking antidepressants for this sort of thing than there is for someone with high blood pressure taking blood pressure medication. It's often a chemical/medical condition, not a mental condition.
I would strongly urge you to talk to your doctor about it.
In the mean time, hang in there. There is a lot of support out there. I just found this site this week and already feel a little better.
Hope this helps!

Posts: 4
Joined: Feb 2003

I am a cancer survivor (I have been free of the illness for twenty years). When I was seventeen I was told by my doctor that I had ovarian cancer. I went through the surgery,chemo, and all the testing they could throw at me, but I got through it with the emotional support of my family, friends and the church. I kinda know what you are going through and my prayers are with you.
keep up the fight!
and God Bless you!!

DebraNKC's picture
Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2003

Dear, you are not rediculous at all. I have been struggling with the same things. I used to be so strong and idependant. I had my total mastectomy on Feb 25th. I feel so bad sometimes that here I am alive, and have a chance at life, but I am so depressed at what I'm left with. I still have Chemo for 3 more months, and can't do any reconstruction till after that, and I hate what I look like now. Bald and one breast, and putting on wait from the steroids. Doesn't help that the man I love left me last week. One day he's lovingly spending the day with me, and offerred to shave my head for me sense I'd lost almost all of it, and then 5 days later, he wants nothing to do with me anymore. He says it's not because of my cancer, and he hates being made to look like a chump for leaving me. He said he loves me and it's just differances in what we want. Whatever the reason it's so hard. It would be heartbreaking to loose him at all, but now. It's impossible to deal with. Just reinforces my feeling like I'm not a woman now. I miss him so much! I hate being so all alone. Thinking of being alone like this from now on makes me wonder sometimes if being a survivor is what I want. You're not being rediculous for your fears, and your sadness, and your feelings of how you look.
You have good reason to feel that way, and a right to. Just hold on to that man who is supporting you and let him hold you when you cry. I can only pray that it gets easier for us. God Bless you, and the man who is standing by you.

Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 2003

Dear Mawhawk.....Don't beat yourself up dear. Feelings are feelings, they cannot be denied. Your first step might need to be forgiveness. Forgiveness to YOU for having feelings that you think are inappropriate. Maybe you haven't finished your mourning phase for your loss. Go ahead....mourn the loss of your beloved breasts, and then let it go. You are not a "bad person" for feeling like you do. Give yourself permission to acknowledge your emotional pain and sorrow....maybe you could put a time limit on it. I.E. I'm going to give myself one more month to REALLY feel the pain of this loss, and then "ON WITH LIFE!" I hope this helps just a little. Bonnie

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