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May 8, 2019 09:16AM
TammyKh I send you hugs of compassion. We all hate cancer. This is a safe place to vent and tell the truth about what you're going through. No matter the brave face, every one of us has dark times. Staying positive is easier for some people than others. Even the cheeriest faces, and people who don't have breast cancer might have another secret or hidden or unacknowledged challenge. Ours is a super horrible one, for sure, though. It's totally fine to admit your feelings.
Why me, you ask? Good question. Your doctor gave you no answer---I think there really is not an answer. Of course, we all want there to be a magic reason. But, there is not. This horrible disease does not play favorites. Thin, vegan marathon runners with perfect health choices get breast cancer, and all of the genetic and environmental possible correlations are really still mysteries. So says my oncologist with a very firm but also empathetic tone.
Consider discussing your despair with your PCP. Depression can be temporary, and life events can suddenly make it pop up. You might benefit from antidepressants to get through the dark tunnel for awhile, plus talk therapy. Consider the fact that you've gone through a horrendous trauma and shock, and there will be collateral damage, on your personality and your emotional well-being, as well as on your body. The oncologist treats the cancer, and we are left with the assaulted body and psyche to deal with. Now you have to look out for healing your inner self.
Ask your oncology clinic what they can offer as far as survivor support. Classes? Group therapy? Referrals for same?
Attach yourself to all the "positives" you can possibly gather. Friends, exercise, chocolate, nature, comedy movies, music....whatever you can pour into yourself to counteract the dark stuff.
I have stable mental health and no depression. However, going through treatment was the most challenged I'd ever been, and it rocked that stability and my persona. I now feel more vulnerable. Hyper aware of Life. It's taken all my lifelong-acquired mental health tools to put one foot in front of the other some days. Oh, yes, and my FIRST breast cancer was at age 45. I WAS cured. This was a new one; completely different in all ways and unrelated.... in 2018. So, I am living proof that we get through it and can move on. However, that first time sent shock waves through me, emotionally and psychologically. This time, again.
Last May, when I met my breast surgeon, I researched her online, of course. In about two minutes, I learned that she, at age 32, had had breast cancer, BMX and then chemo. When I met her, we discussed this--she is now 36. When she was diagnosed, she was beginning a breast cancer fellowship (=extra surgical training after residency) to become a super-qualified breast cancer surgeon. Yes, this is ironic, for sure, she agrees. She had her eggs harvested before chemo. She got married after chemo was over. She finished her fellowship. She had a baby three years later. She looks terrific. She's the most compassionate doctor I've ever met, since she travels now in life with this huge empathy and first-hand knowledge of her patients' vulnerability. Her cancer, after surgery + chemo (+ maybe Tamoxifen, I'm sort of assuming, but never asked) is considered cured, and she's moving on. I know it shook her up; she was candid about that. But, here she is, giving to others and sharing her excellent skills.
I have a friend who is 32 and had her surgery and chemo and also radiation in the past 10 months. She's looking forward to the future, and does want to have children with her partner. She's shaken to the core, but she managed work and many other obligations, and got through treatment; now is moving forward. She recently shared with me that her friends ask, "So, now that you're finished with that surgery and chemo stuff, are you perfectly fine now?" NO! Of course we're not perfectly fine after something this traumatic. She says that no one around her can possibly understand how the reverberations of all this continue, even after you're finished with 'active treatment.'
I share these stories because each of those young cancer patients certainly had absolutely horrified and terrified reactions to going through this totally unfair thing that is cancer. It doesn't pick favorites. It's awful to be your age and have to face this, absolutely no question about that. I think I'm sharing these two stories in the vein of "it gets better." Each of these young woman felt despairing at times, but as time passes, they're doing better, they both report.
I send you sincere and warm support.
3/2003, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, 0/2 nodes, ER+, HER2-
6/10/2003 3DCRT: Breast
8/8/2003 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
4/25/2018, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
5/22/2018 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement
6/25/2018 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
11/7/2018 Arimidex (anastrozole)
1/2/2019 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant