Topic: Cancer changes everything! anyone that kept living normal?

Forum: Mental Health: Because Cancer Doesn't Just Affect Your Breasts — Meet and support others who are affected by these issues around anxiety, depression & other emotional effects.

Posted on: May 31, 2021 08:48AM

Posted on: May 31, 2021 08:48AM

loverofjesus wrote:

Maybe I just need to vent or maybe I'm just mad!

But I feel like cancer has changed everything!!! I look to see if a lotion contains hormones, I am terrified to have a few glasses of wine, I'm scared to eat certain foods for fear of feeding the cancer. And trust me I ate healthy before cancer, I was never a big drinker, and tried to use good cosmetics and lotions!!

I feel like I research everything I do! I have lost all freedom. I spend my days lately planning around Drs appointments and getting ready for chemo. Going to pick out wigs, microblading my eyebrows, fearful of dying. Had some crazy lady tell me last week not to do chemo or I would for sure die.

All of this just stinks and I know everyone here completely understands where I'm coming from. That is why I feel safe to vent here.

If you have advice or think I'm over thinking things please please tell me. I feel like I'm losing my mind. Maybe it is just part of the process of being diagnosed. I don't know. But whew. I sure could use some people that can talk me down off this imaginary ledge I feel like I'm on. I feel like if I do one thing wrong I'm going to make it worse and die.

I know these thoughts are probably irrational. But I also know I'm probably not the only one that has had them.

Thank you all in advance for letting me vent!!!!

I truly love it here. I feels safe.

Hormonal Therapy 5/21/2021 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 5/21/2021 Whole breast: Right breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Dx 5/22/2021, ILC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 6/15/2021 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 11/2/2021 Mastectomy (Right): Simple; Prophylactic mastectomy (Left); Reconstruction (Left): Tissue Expander; Reconstruction (Right): Tissue Expander
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May 31, 2021 09:03AM lw422 wrote:

Yes, I often feel that cancer has hijacked my life and all I do is stuff I DON'T WANT to do. However I don't get nuts about my diet; I just carry on and eat what I can during chemo. My MO told me he didn't want me to lose any weight so if all I can eat is ice cream, then have the ice cream. I also don't bother worrying about my creams, lotions, etc. Why add stress to an already stressful situation?

When I lost my hair, I cried for days about "cancer taking everything from me" like a big baby. I still have my wonderful family and everything that's truly important, so obviously cancer ISN'T taking everything away. I suppose it's all a matter of perspective. All of us have meltdowns and go through tough times with this crap, but we just have to hang in there and hope that it's temporary.

I don't believe that anyone who has had a cancer diagnosis comes out of it unscathed; we are all changed by cancer forever.

Surgery 8/23/2021 Lymph node removal (Right): Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy (Right) Dx IBC/IDC, Right, Stage IIIB, ER-/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy Right breast, Chest wall, Lymph nodes
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May 31, 2021 09:11AM exbrnxgrl wrote:

Irrational? Maybe a little but you are still very, very recently diagnosed. Don’t be so hard on yourself. One thing that helped me was to understand that despite how I organized and planned my life there were never any guarantees. We sometimes forget that we cannot and do not have control over every aspect of our lives.

I will say that I am not a proponent of examining everything that goes into your mouth or on your skin. We all do the best we can but I for one can’t get bogged down in that kind of micromanaged life. Additionally, while a healthy diet and lifestyle are good for all of us as you noted, it’s a guarantee of nothing! So please allow yourself some smiles and some pleasure because that’s what living is about. Most of all, time and it’s passage will see you settle into an calmer path. The beginning of a bc dx is just plain hard! And if you need help please find a therapist and consider meds. It has helped so many of us. Take care

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May 31, 2021 10:11AM alicebastable wrote:

Does cancer change a person? Sure, but depending on the type and stage, it has more of an impact on some people than others. I didn't have chemo so in some ways I got off easy, but I've had other cancers so it probably gets into my headspace in a strange way - I may not worry as much about recurrence, but I wonder what the next cancer will be. And my least scary cancer, basal cell, resulted in one of my largest surgeries with a pretty visible and annoying (tingling) facial scar, so that reminder is with me every day. But my life was also impacted by my hip replacement and my back surgery and at the time, they were much harder to go through than the lumpectomy - and with my rotten joints, I will inevitably have more joint replacements, plus I have other health issues that put a What If and colorful question marks over my head. I do think how you're reacting now, with a fresh diagnosis and the emotions that brings, will be different later on when the immediate surgery and treatments are done. The cancer thoughts will always be there, but usually not as intense (unless you let them be), and not as constant, and there will be times that you won't think about it.

BCO is not trustworthy. Do not share personal information on this site. Surgery 7/10/2018 Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph node removal Surgery 8/7/2018 Radiation Therapy 10/29/2018 Whole breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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May 31, 2021 10:26AM moth wrote:

So here's the thing: I think cancer changes things and it should. It is a serious illness and it will demand time and attention and some pain and depending where you are, some money, and it will be a huge inconvenient thing in your life, esp while you are in active treatment.

But other things don't have to change. You don't have to change who you are, you don't have to change what you do. You don't have to buy wigs or microblade or talk to anyone or explain things to anyone, or anything. You just have to show up to treatments, take your meds, eat & sleep. Those are the *musts*. Everything else is optional.

I think stripping down to the *musts* and then adding back the *wants* (& making sure they're what you want, not what you think you need to do or someone expects you to do), then it just becomes a life again that you feel a bit more comfortable in.

And things do settle down as time goes on. The early days & weeks are just a relentless whirlwind of appointments and conversations and frightened thoughts. But it gets better.

I take weekends off

Initial dx at 50. Seriously?? “Sometimes the future changes quickly and completely and we’re left with only the choice of what to do next." blog: Never Tell Me the Odds

Dx 12/2017, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/5 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 12/12/2017 Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph node removal Chemotherapy 2/13/2018 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 8/13/2018 Whole breast: Breast Dx 2/2020, IDC, Left, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/lungs, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 3/18/2020 Taxol (paclitaxel) Immunotherapy 3/18/2020 Tecentriq (atezolizumab) Chemotherapy 11/25/2020 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 12/8/2020 External Hormonal Therapy 12/15/2020 Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy 3/2/2021 External Local Metastases 3/2/2021 Radiation therapy: Bone Targeted Therapy 1/1/2022 Trodelvy (sacituzumab govitecan-hziy)
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May 31, 2021 11:12AM - edited May 31, 2021 11:27AM by ShetlandPony

LOJ, I totally get that feeling "if I do one thing wrong I will die". I think there is a struggle to find control in the madness. It's a little tricky because taking good care of ourselves can make us healthier, and yet as others have said, there are no guarantees. What helps me is to remind myself that tweaking these lifestyle things like diet, exercise, and sleep does not have to happen all at once, and you do not have to be perfect to get benefit. A physician once told me that after his heart attack he adopted a scheme where he would eat healthy Monday-Friday, and eat what he wanted on the weekend. This kind of 80/20 idea has been helpful to me in saying no to stress-inducing perfectionism. So maybe one week you decide on and purchase some bottles of a special drink to take to gatherings as an alternative to alcohol. (Mine is a natural fizzy fresh ginger drink.) Maybe the next week you find a lipstick with ingredients you trust. You don't have to overhaul the whole makeup kit at once. The following week you decide to take an evening walk two out of seven days. Maybe you can work up to six days per week from there, over the course of a couple months. (Notice we do not go to expecting seven days a week!) Small steps instead of overhauling everything at once.

This brings me to the second point, which is in line with some of moth's advice above. When you are in the crisis of new or intense treatment, focus on that and go easy on yourself about your healthy living goals. Later you can work on other things, when you have had a chance to recover some energy and catch your breath.

As far as what to do, people focus a lot on food, but the factor with the most evidence behind it is exercise! And remember that lowering stress, increasing social connection, and finding meaning are just as important. The mind and body are connected, so if you are stressing out over your dinner, that's not great. This is to give you permission to relax!

You are doing fine, LOJ. You are handling it. All normal reactions.

2011 Stage I ITCs sn, premenopausal, Oncotype 16. 2014 Stage IV mets breast,liver. TaxolNEAD. Ibrance+letrozole 2yrs. Fas+afinitor nope. XelodaNEAD 2yrs. Eribulin,Doxil nope. SUMMIT FaslodexHerceptinNeratinib for Her2mut NEAD 1 1/2yrs. GI/perit mets Dx 2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2014, ILC, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/other, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast Surgery Lumpectomy
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May 31, 2021 11:23AM ShetlandPony wrote:

Oh, one more thing. I have made it so some of the changes cancer made were good ones. Or rather, cancer prompted me to make changes that increase my happiness. When I was first diagnosed I said to myself, Ok I am no longer going to run myself into the ground. And I am going to make time for a hobby for myself. So as soon as I finished radiation, I went and found that dance class I had thought about for years, and found a new passion for this dance form that has brought me joy for years. I decided to let some chores go and spend my first hour of the day in my garden (mental and physical health there). I treat myself to nice things more than I did before cancer. For example, recently I decided I deserved to spend a day shopping online for new skin care and makeup, to make myself feel cared for and pretty in spite of the ravages of treatment. (PM me if you want the name for the "clean beauty" store I found. They've done the work for us!)

But I did these things when I had a break and was not feeling too tired and strung out. There are times all I do is focus on eating and resting.

2011 Stage I ITCs sn, premenopausal, Oncotype 16. 2014 Stage IV mets breast,liver. TaxolNEAD. Ibrance+letrozole 2yrs. Fas+afinitor nope. XelodaNEAD 2yrs. Eribulin,Doxil nope. SUMMIT FaslodexHerceptinNeratinib for Her2mut NEAD 1 1/2yrs. GI/perit mets Dx 2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2014, ILC, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/other, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast Surgery Lumpectomy
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May 31, 2021 11:25AM elderberry wrote:

LoverofJesus: What you are going through is normal. Yes, it makes you an emotional wreck. Your life has been upended. I know that a few months into treatment I would see my reflection in the mirror and I would think "Who is that person?" Bald head, rash on the face, big lump on my chest where the port was put. Life does go on and things settle - even the routine of endless appointment for scans, treatments etc. You are still you.

I do have those days where I wonder if I ate too much tofu for estrogen levels. I wonder if I need more kale, less cheese. It can be crazy making. I get tired of people asking me when treatment will end and I have to save "Never" and explain things. Most days are just normal days for me now. I look forward to everyone I know and love having been vaccinated and we can get together to laugh, love, LIVE. If you are suffering anxiety - ask for meds. If you have insomnia - ask for meds. It is okay to do that and if it helps you get through the days then please do it. I asked my MO if I could have the occasional glass of wine and he said "Of course, why do you think we are doing all of this?. So you can enjoy life" Don't spend a second longer on worrying if your deodorant caused your cancer or if your shampoo isn't GMO . It will get better.

De Novo - this isn't a "brave battle" - it is a "furious struggle" Dx 3/6/2019, IDC, Left, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to liver, HER2+ Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy Taxol (paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab)
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May 31, 2021 11:31AM loverofjesus wrote:

Thank you everyone for the advice!!! It is all helpful. I asked my oncologist about having a few drinks on weekends and he said it’s fine. But I’m still scared.
Does anyone still have drinks or have all of you just stopped altogether? Like I said my dr said it won’t kill me and it’s ok. But I would like to know what everyone does. My dr has not had breast cancer. If you know what I mean.

Hormonal Therapy 5/21/2021 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 5/21/2021 Whole breast: Right breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall Dx 5/22/2021, ILC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 6/15/2021 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 11/2/2021 Mastectomy (Right): Simple; Prophylactic mastectomy (Left); Reconstruction (Left): Tissue Expander; Reconstruction (Right): Tissue Expander
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May 31, 2021 11:33AM - edited May 31, 2021 11:34AM by ShetlandPony

You mentioned all the medical appointments that take over your life. Even there, you can make them work for you. Enjoy chatting with any people you meet on appointment day. Bring music or some other entertainment you like to the chemo room. And try to get the schedulers to work with you on scheduling in a way that minimizes the impact on your real life.

There are a lot of threads here where people debate the alcohol question.

2011 Stage I ITCs sn, premenopausal, Oncotype 16. 2014 Stage IV mets breast,liver. TaxolNEAD. Ibrance+letrozole 2yrs. Fas+afinitor nope. XelodaNEAD 2yrs. Eribulin,Doxil nope. SUMMIT FaslodexHerceptinNeratinib for Her2mut NEAD 1 1/2yrs. GI/perit mets Dx 2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2014, ILC, 2cm, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/other, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Breast Surgery Lumpectomy
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May 31, 2021 11:51AM moth wrote:

I don't drink alcohol at all. There are a number of threads on this so do search them out if you're wanting to read more about it. my thinking is alcohol is a known carcinogen & I don't need any more of that, thank you. Otoh, radiation is also a carcinogen and I have had that because I think the benefits outweigh the risks. I don't really see any benefit to alcohol so it's all risk for me but this is a calculation we all have to make.

Btw, not all doctors make the recommendation that small amounts are ok. I know several doctors who do tell their pts that they recommend zero alcohol so this is one area where I think we're sort of on our own because drs recommendations are unreliable here (& I think largely driven by personal biases)


I take weekends off

Initial dx at 50. Seriously?? “Sometimes the future changes quickly and completely and we’re left with only the choice of what to do next." blog: Never Tell Me the Odds

Dx 12/2017, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/5 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 12/12/2017 Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph node removal Chemotherapy 2/13/2018 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 8/13/2018 Whole breast: Breast Dx 2/2020, IDC, Left, Stage IV, metastasized to liver/lungs, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 3/18/2020 Taxol (paclitaxel) Immunotherapy 3/18/2020 Tecentriq (atezolizumab) Chemotherapy 11/25/2020 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 12/8/2020 External Hormonal Therapy 12/15/2020 Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy 3/2/2021 External Local Metastases 3/2/2021 Radiation therapy: Bone Targeted Therapy 1/1/2022 Trodelvy (sacituzumab govitecan-hziy)

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