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Does therapy really help?

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I feel I have hit a wall mentally. I am 4 years out , NED and on tamoxifen. I feel lost, I don’t have anyone I talk to on a serious level about my cancer experience. I was out with friends last night and they jokingly said they were going to make an online dating profile for me. I laughed it off and said dating feels complicated with all of this (referring to my mastectomy and lack of breasts). The comments that followed kinda broke me. One friend made the statement “ you still have breasts” As if my implants are the same! Another said “ it’s ok do you know how many people have sex with their shirts on” I am still in tears today. I tried to talk to a friend about what was said and all I got was “ I get it, I have always been insecure about not having boobs” as she is small breasted.

I am wondering if a regular counselor would help. I can’t stand feeling this way. I am worried it will just feel like talking to somebody that doesn’t truly understand. I have tried to search for specific therapists for cancer survivors but can’t seem to find one. Also is it normal to still feel this way 4 years out?

Comments

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 8,074
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    Hi dani44,

    We're so sorry you're having a difficult time. As you will surely see here, your feelings are not uncommon and completely normal! It can be so hard for others in your life to "get" the struggles that come along with a cancer diagnosis, and beyond. But you are not alone! We know others will be by shortly to support you.

    In the meantime, we wanted to share with you our Bonded by Breast Cancer Zoom Meetup that meets on Fridays at 1pm ET. This group talks about all of the struggles of life after active treatment is over, the ups and the downs, and is a wonderful source of encouragement and support from those who have been there. We hope you'll register and join us!

    In addition, we have some good information on the main Breastcancer.org site about Taking Care of Your Mental Health After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis, including how to find mental health support services.

    We hope you find these resources helpful, and that others will be by soon to weigh in with their experiences and advice. Sending hugs to you!

    --The Mods

  • concernedaboutresults
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    Hi Dani444. Your experience with your friends and their comments may have made you feel more isolated, misunderstood, and hurt. It seems important for you to be understood when you voice how breast cancer has affected your life and perhaps even more so when it comes to intimacy situations. In my opinion, a counseling situation might be a safer space to explore your experiences without being pressured to take actions you aren't ready to cope with, regardless of the counselor's personal cancer experiences. I would imagine there would be both some pros and cons with a counselor having a personal experience with breast cancer. Based on past experiences with my counseling journey, my personal stance is that my counselor didn't need to have a similar experience in life. But I did need to feel a connection with them and that I felt safe to open up. Otherwise, what's the point? I can't say if four years is normal as I am new to my diagnosis and still in shock. I hope someone else can give you some helpful feedback on that.

  • kaynotrealname
    kaynotrealname Member Posts: 399
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    What is normal? It's different for everybody after all and I personally like to think more along the lines as are you tired of feeling the way you are. If so, then yes counseling can be quite beneficial. I ended up going through quite a bit after my mother passed away. It was the first time I confronted my own mortality and I was messed up. It took quite a bit of time for me to put everything in it's proper place and I needed further help in the form of an anti-depressant but eventually I found joy again. When I was diagnosed 8 years later with breast cancer I had already done most of my internal work but I needed further help in learning to manage fears and live in the present. So that's what I've been working on with this bout. I can honestly say I'm pretty happy and confident right now. Aware of what could happen but not living in abject fear of it and loving the results of my diep from two and a half weeks ago. I personally consider them breasts. Not the ones my body made but whatever. They'll look great. As far as what therapist works best? I don't know that they need to have your experience perse but they do need to know how to help people manage anxiety and work through traumatic life experiences. And then of course you need to like them.

  • vlnrph
    vlnrph Member Posts: 490
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    Dear Dani, As I read your history, the risk-reducing contralateral mastectomy you had in 2020 was just 2.5 years ago, not 4. Making that decision might not have been easy for you.

    So, it seems to me that your experience of trauma has been unrelenting since 2018. I think a counselor could help in recovery. A well trained NP or MSW is a good choice and should be less expensive than an MD.

    Where do you live in Indiana? (I went to pharmacy school at Purdue). Cancer centers here in Wisconsin have their own psych onc units. If yours doesn't, virtual visits may be possible.