To ask for possible coping strategies, please?(13 Posts)
Firstly, I must apologise for posting on here as I am not a mother (although this is a small fraction of my problem) but I am seeking help as one female from hopefully a few others. I have tried breast cancer forums but due to the nature of my situation (currently NED) I worry that my concerns pale into insignificance compared with others there so thought MN was worth a shot.
Upshot is that i am quietly not coping well but hide it V well from others not only because it has been tough on them but im not sure what they can do.
Background: I was diagnosed with grade 3 triple negative breast cancer aged 25. I was clear by age 27 but last summer recurred. This has been treated (mercifully didnt lose hair this time round). I realise i am so lucky but i cant seem to shake the feeling of utter anxiety and fixation with when i might die as i feel like i am just waiting for it to come back. I am not living in denial but i am certainly not depressed; i am very happy and content with my life, have a wide circle of wonderful friends and enjoy life and make the most of it. I just cant shake the panic that i dont know what will happen and struggle to make any plans at all which is becoming increasingly difficult the older i get (was easier at 25 iyswim). I am getting married to my amazing bf who has stuck by me throughout all of this in 18 months. This fills me with quiet terror although i want nothing more than to be martied to him. "Will i be well for the wedding?" "Might i develop secondaries before then?" Etc etc. He and my friends wouldnt believe that i feel this way as i hide it well. Friends are marrying and settling a lot lately - babies, martiage, that kind of thing. I worry that i wont be able to give my partner a baby, i worry that i might not be here in 5 years. As i said, i dont think im depressed, rather im struggling to adapt to an uncertain life. I suppose its a tall ask but does anyone have any wisdom, experience or advice that they wouldnt mind sharing?
First off, well done for fending off the cancer twice!! What has the doctor said about prognosis and the future? I think you need to listen to the doctor and keep that in mind.
In terms of coping strategies, I would strongly suggest you seek some cognitive behaviour therapy (cbt). It's very useful in putting things in perspective and helping you re focus your efforts and cognitions to the present rather than the numerous what-ifs.
I would also share some of your fears with your bf and a close friend. They would get why you feel this way and would give you the real life support you need,
Thanks so much for your kind reply. I will look into CBT. Re prognosis, Drs (albeit fantastic) are quite matter of fact; it might come back at any point but might not.
Pressed send to early. This in itself is fine as a prognosis but it is hard to get on with life and plan for things like babies (i have about 20 eggs in a freezer!) when i might not be there for them one day.
Yes of course it's hard to plan but you will need to continue to live. Your bf wants to marry you, not so much for the potential to have babies but because he loves you. Babies are an added bonus. You've already pre-empted it by freezing them.. There are lots of women who don't realise they can't have babies and so find out too late that they 'should have' frozen some earlier on - for example.
My mother died when she was 50. Way too young. I was 18. I'm now 41. Occasionally I get into the doldrums about not being able to see my kids get married etc - after all, she didn't see us get married or her 5 grandchildren between me and my brother.
That may still happen. But in the meantime I need to do all I can to live life. I'm in the midst of bashing my kitchen wall down and making it look really nice. I could have just lived in my old kitchen - hated it but hey I don't need this mess and hassle, not to mention the cost!!!
My point is, you do need to get some help and I believe CBT will be of use.
Have you looked at mindfulness? I really like the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn - you might be interested to have a read of his book Full Catastrophe Living
Well, firstly don't feel bad or ashamed about these feelings... they are very natural and it sounds like you've been doing amazingly. This sort of uncertainty about what the future holds must be really hard to deal with at such a comparatively young age (or any age, really).
Have you spoken to any of the specialist cancer charities about counselling? I'm sure there are lots of people in remission who feel like you do and some specialist counselling might be really helpful. Just getting it all out to someone who understands might make you feel a lot better.
Thanks so much everyone. Waveorcheer - what kinds of things does his work cover?
He's a physician who's studied the clinical applications of mindfulness, including those managing long term conditions and chronic stress and pain. The book includes an eight week programme.
If you're in London, the London Buddhist run courses in mindfulness meditation, including specific courses for managing stress and depression. Even if you're not in London, mindfulness courses are running in a lot of places nowadays. A search for mindfulness + my hometown brought up one five mins walk from my house!
If you fancy having a go by yourself JKZ has some audio downloads, or there are a few apps.
I know it will be hard, but try to deal with one thing at a time. never had to deal with the horror that is cancer but I have dealt with infertility and took several rounds of IVF for the blessing that is DS. you need to concentrate on getting yourself well first, after you have accomplished that then look towards your next journey of family (or whatever else you feel is next for you) try not to think too far ahead and take each step as it comes. I will keep you in my thoughts and wish you all the best in whatever is to come for you. it may not be easy but whatever you do, it will be worth it and I wish you every success.
Another one saying mindfulness could really help, thinking of you x
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