Monday, 26 September 2011

Is it just me? or...

So this might be one of this posts where I do a bit of off loading and blather on about how I'm really feeling, in the hope that it will be a common theme among a portion of the online population.

I'll be honest; I'm struggling a littlest bit. I'm three months post mastectomy. 2 weeks back in full time employment, 10 months fully fledged cancer patient. About 5 weeks neurosis about what I'm supposed to do now. I understand this isn't anything new, I'm expected to be a bit flummoxed at this stage, but seeing as this is just me and I'm not so au fait with the rest of the afflicted world, I'll put it down on virtual paper so I can at least record my mini meltdown for the benefit of hindsight.

The problem is this; everyone is so happy I'm 'back', and they can relax into me being me and normal life again, that I think it's easy to forget what a sh!tter it's been. And so they should too (by they I mean everyone who loves me, my colleagues, employers, etc), since it is technically behind us. But while they were all struggling through emotionally, I was very intently focused on doing what I was told and getting on with the treatment. It's only now that I'm resuming normal service, that I'm really thinking about it properly. You could say I'm slow on the uptake. Its a bit frustrating, I don't like being last in class. So herein lies the problem.

Part of me wants to forget it, but a bigger part of me can't, and the result is a pretty pessimistic jelly type hypochondriac who is so aware of my own mortality that I'm a bit afraid of crossing the road these days. Silly isn't it? Inconvenient it certainly is; There are several roads to cross to get from my front door to the desk that I so want to be sitting at every day, so I can do the forgetting part of this deal. And that's another thing. I'm impatient to get back to the old, forgetful me, so I've filled my days with an abundance of work and weddings, ignoring my body's minor protestations and shoving sensible thoughts about napping or deep breathing to the very bottom of my to do list. Until today that is, when I failed to concentrate on anything, spent a quarter of the day with my forehead on my desk, and finally acknowledged my shaky legs on every trip to the toilet. Damn it, I am not immune to after effects after all. Those blinking radiotherapy and post-treatment leaflets were right. Normal life will have to wait a little while longer.

I hope that I will get it back. Pessimism is not a happy part of my character, and I'm sick of not being as happy as I think everyone else is. You could say jealous even, but I realise there are a lot of blows that come with being a cancer survivor. Not least the one that sees you develop a fear for your future. I hope I get braver, I hope I stop thinking that every twinge is something sinister, and reluctantly washing my scar in the shower in case I feel the start of something that shouldn't be there. You see? Mental.

Most of all if I live my life that way then technically I'm not much of a cancer survivor, since it's somewhat ruined my life regardless. I'm not quite at a point where I believe my own philosophy yet, but I'm certainly getting there.

Apparently I should plan something nice for myself every day. That is a lot of nice to fit in. Any suggestions gratefully received. But they need to be centred around sleeping a lot and getting someone else to do all my chores. Now that would be nice...


  1. Films in bed and online shopping :)
    While I haven't been through what you have, I think a little worry is utterly and completely understood and normal!! X

  2. Of course it is only natural to feel like this Sophie. Although I haven't been ill I know all to well the after shocks of cancer. Someone described it to me once, as like a speeding train. Once the doctor says those words to you, that is it. You are on that train whether you like it or not, and because of the enormity of what you have been through the after shocks will last for some time. But in time the train will slow down and life will become slowly back to normal. Not your old normal, but a new one. Which will still be great I am sure of it. You seem like an amazing person with fab family and friends. So keep doing what your doing lovely :) Bee xxx hope this makes sense, sorry for rambling!

  3. Hi Sophie. I get this completely. Your reaction is typical. I am 10 months post diagnosis too, and post chemo, a huge vortex opens up where you ask 'what now?'. Every little twinge makes me think 'cancer is back' and there is no treatment regime to give structure. Here is what I did. It was a bit control freaky but I wrote a 5 point plan. Just five simple things to focus on for the rest of the year. One of them was to do with my children, another was diet based. It gives me something to do, and some structure. And finally, after meaning to do it for 10 years,I did a meditation course(forget books and tapes they don't work) and I cannot tell you how much it has helped me. Good luck.

  4. Hi Sophie, I'm a bit behind you, 6 months past diagnosis and have had surgery, chemo and about to start rads/Herceptin next week... I've found it difficult as each stage of treatment ends, everyone thinks I should be thrilled but it's a teeny bit more scary. I feel desperate to get back to 'normal' but I don't think I've worked out or come to terms with what my new normal is, guess it's too early but I know for sure that I'll never be the same again. Like you, I find it hard to rest/recuperate but have been easier on myself recently which helps - I don't love my job as much as you do (altho if I had your job I certainly would!) so I'm happy not to return too soon.

    Remember that you've been on a massive life-changing journey in a really short space of time, we're all entitled to the wobbles so please be kind to yourself and give yourself that day on the sofa if you want to... new shoes are incredibly nice too!

  5. I hope I'm not stating the obvious - but have you though about seeing a therapist that specialises in cancer survivors?

  6. Bubble baths with plenty of nice candles and bath salts help me forget about my troubles as well as midnight feasts whilst watching comedy. No-one can foresee the future and I feel slightly silly saying this as I am in no way a wisdom guru, but you can only take things day by day. Time is a big healer and what you have been through is so life changing that you won't be your old self over-night. You probably know all of this already and frankly as I haven't been through such an ordeal I have no idea how you feel but after reading your post I just felt inclined to write a comment. All the best, Hollie X

  7. I think it's totally natural to feel this way. I am 2 years out & still worry with every ache, twinge, bump...but it does seem to get easier the farther out you get.


  8. Hi Sophie, what you're describing is exactly how I felt after completing treatment! I was so positive and upbeat during treatment because I was so focused on getting better, that once it all finished and I was "normal" again, everything just got the better of me and I had a bit of a breakdown as I realised the enormity of what had happened to me!
    I think from what other people have commented that it really is a natural thing, like maybe in the same way adrenaline gets you through a trauma, your mind gets you through something that is more longwinded like cancer and the subsequent treatment. It's only afterwards that the shock sets in!
    I wish you all the strength in the world now to get yourself back on track so to speak. I have only just discovered your blog but really wish I had read something like this back when I was ill - I only hope that other people going through the same thing may find solace in the company your blog provides!
    All the best,
    Dani xx