• Is it normal to have your first major breakdown AFTER treatment finishes?

    Asked by thil2633 on Friday, March 22, 2013

    Is it normal to have your first major breakdown AFTER treatment finishes?

    Last night I went to a support group and there was a lady there that was SO upset- in 2011 she finished her treatment and thought she was cancer free. (same stage cancer as me, no lymphnoid involved, clean margins single mastectomy) in January her back went out and they did an MRI to find to spots on her vertebre (bone cancer). I freaked out hearing her story and got really upset on the way home. Up till now I have smiled my way throught the diagnosis and the treatments, that I finished last month. I always had the fear in the back of my mind, but I let it get me last night. How normal is that?

    25 Answers from the Community

    25 answers
    • CAS1's Avatar

      Read up on shock..Symptoms happen months after the actual event. Even read about PTSD also very appropriate for a cancer dx. I think we all go through levels of both.

      Cancer sucks. Ain't no way around that. But she also could have been hit by a bus.

      We need to take our blessings one scan at a time and stay in the present moment. Can we learn how to be more at peace from our cancer dx? Is this the lesson we are meant to learn?

      over 5 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      It is almost universally normal to be concerned about recurrence once you have had cancer. While in active treatment, your focus is on that treatment so dwelling on the possibility of recurrence is not a priority. IMO, concern is fine but allowing the fear of recurrence to dominate your life is irrational. An occasional "breakdown" can occur for any reason, just don't let the breakdowns become the norm.

      over 5 years ago
    • Mel's Avatar

      I'm going to say very normal!!!.... I think I've had a whole new episode of emotions, thoughts after done also still do, compared to going through it all.
      This is all such a roller coaster I wish we didn't have to ride on. :)

      over 5 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      Sounds completely normal to me. Her situation hit close to home for you. I'd be surprised if learning about her recent setback didn't upset you. Others will give you suggestions for managing your fears. I just wanted to answer your primary question about whether your reaction was normal.

      over 5 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Very normal. In 1995 I had a nephrectomy and for stage 1 kidney cancer. I was numb for and on autopilot for several months. My breakdown happened when I went for my three month post op follow up scan.

      over 5 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      We all deal with our ups and downs differently. I kept waiting to have a meltdown. And waiting. And waiting. I would have little mini meltdowns when I got GOOD news. My major meltdown happened at the very end of treatment and was brought on by something having nothing to do w/my cancer or my treatment. This journey is emotional for us all. And just like our journeys are unique, so is our emotional responses to it. I thought I was weird, too, but I've come to accept it's just another step along that path.

      over 5 years ago
    • HearMeRoar's Avatar

      Sorry that happened to you, Thil. I have stage 2a cancer too - ER/PR+. To be honest, what happened to you is exactly why I'm not going to support groups. Hope that doesn't sound too negative - we're all different and find different things helpful.

      I'm early on - double mast, 1st chemo and just lost my hair yesterday. I went through "thinking the worst" in the beginning as the little scary puzzle pieces were being presented to me. I had convinced myself I was a gonner. Now I'm really grateful to be stage 2a and see that the survival is not all that different from stage 1.

      I think your reaction was/ is normal. I just hope that you - and me - and all of us can stay positive.

      XOXO - ROAR

      over 5 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      Any feelings that you have are normal.....Sometimes we get through treatment before we grieve what we have lost....try your best to manage to feelings....do what you can so it doesn't control your life.....I'm 7 years post Dx and the fear is in the back of my mind....when I hear of someone having mets, it reminds me that I do could be there, but I'm NOT at this point....I try to live my life to the fullest...one day at a time....now thats not to say that I am always upbeat, but I do my best to live in the moment.....

      over 5 years ago
    • ValerieR's Avatar

      OMG... I think that its always in the back of your mind after cancer. I don't think about it alot, but every now and then I get worried and scared. I try to live in the moment and enjoy for the most part.....but I think that its very normal to do this.

      over 5 years ago
    • HearMeRoar's Avatar

      Nancyjac, you rock my world with every answer. Sometimes i love what you say sometimes I dont but I always respect your honesty. I think you are awesome.

      over 5 years ago
    • SMT4's Avatar

      I did and at first felt guilty for doing so. It is normal remember you have been through so much and not always have time to catch up with what has happened. Be gentle with your self and give yourself time to process all that has happened.

      over 5 years ago
    • SMT4's Avatar

      This is a great article. We often forget that we are still affected after treatment finishes.

      over 5 years ago
    • Grandy's Avatar

      I' ve had mini breaks at each major step. I didn't cry losing my hair, and haven't at the thought of losing my breasts, but I give myself full permission to cry when I need to... And then I bounce back! I've been very happy so far with my responses. But this is a great reminder for me for the future!!! So thanks!!!

      over 5 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      A breakdown at any point is normal. After all, we have been keeping so much inside -- fears, emotions, etc. -- we put on this strong and positive front for all of our family and friends. However, we cannot hold all of that in forever. It takes just one thought or event to trigger the release -- and the flood starts. But that is a good thing -- it is a release that will re-energize you so that you can move forward. The fear of recurrence is real for all of us. I try so hard to be on guard but not to be paranoid. However, that little ache or sore always gets my mind to wander. When I hear of someone having a recurrence or I read an obit in the paper, I get scared. I have to remind myself that I have done everything in my power to eliminate this evil enemy -- bilateral mastectomy, chemo, radiation and arimidex --- now, through the power of prayer, I have to learn to put it in God's hands and live life to the fullest -- no amount of worrying is going to change things -- and no one is promised a tomorrow so live for the present. I wish you the best.

      over 5 years ago
    • CountryGirl's Avatar

      For me, a really emotional time (not the first) occurred last week. The local breast cancer foundation needed a last minute volunteer to help with a fashion show. At the event, I listened for hours about recurrences. I couldn't sleep for two nights because I was so emotional.

      It's been almost two years since I finished treatment and last night I cried and cried. I cried because I feared recurrence so much and those ladies, talking about it so casually at the event, seemed surreal. I cried because I am the I am turning 44 next month. Forty-four. I had wondered if I would ever see this birthday. I am another year closer to seeing my kids graduate high school.

      CAS1 is right. I went to counseling and was told about PTSD in cancer patients. I was also told that it's okay to be emotional. We hold inside so many fears, aches and pains, fatigue. . . sometimes these things leak out and sometimes they come crashing through our defenses and into our "normal" lives like stampeding elephants.

      You are not alone. And it doesn't matter what stage you are, or what stage I am. A cancer diagnosis makes us all confront mortality.

      over 5 years ago
    • SusanK's Avatar

      Ugh. For her and for you. Going through this is such an emotional roller coaster. We all have our ups and downs. I have been finished with treatment for nearly a year and still worry about recurrence. But we can't let it overtake our lives. We have so much to live for. If we have a recurrence, let's deal with it THEN. I don't go to a support group; visiting WhatNext daily is my support, trying to say a kind word to those who need it and asking a question when I have one. In the meantime, my oncologist says to be vigilant...but try to live a normal (and happy) life. I hope today will be a better day for you.

      over 5 years ago
    • thil2633's Avatar

      Oh my gosh, thank you ALL for the answers! I have been so upbeat through this whole thing and everyone in my world has called me their inspiration, I almost feel guilty having this break down. I love this website and being able to get answers quickly and from people going through the same "shitzel" as me. It's nice to know I am normal, or as normal as I can be. Ha ha!!

      over 5 years ago
    • smlisboa's Avatar

      Hi thil2633,
      I'm sure it's very common to feel the aftershock later after treatment. It happened to me. I went thru my surgeries and my chemo and then one day while I was visiting my reconstructive doctor as a follow up....bam! ...I just broke down. I guess everything happened so fast and when all is said and done ...you look at yourself and you see what is left.....and I finally let it all out! From the get go ppl tell you Be strong! Be positive! and so you don't let yourself go there until there is no one there telling you those things and finally you react. Just know that we are all diff and we don't all feel the same and we don't go thru these stages in the same time frame. Some of us go thru this right away and some gradually and some way later. Just let yourself feel what you feel and be true to yourself and forgive yourself on those bad days. If we didn't have bad days.....we wouldn't know how good the other days are! Lol take care and god bless!

      over 5 years ago
    • jad's Avatar

      I went thru lumpectomy, chemo, and have just finished radiation. At the exit meeting at the radiology practice, the nurse told me I might possibly go into a depressed state. So the professionals are well aware of this reaction. She told me it might last a week or so, and then I'd be fine... it is very common. To be honest - I didn't need her to tell me this, though it was very good she did. I had a gut feeling that this would be happening to me. Some adventures behind --- and more to come maybe. I will be trying very hard to prove her wrong.....though she did use the word possibility. It may not happen.

      over 5 years ago
    • Kathy's Avatar

      I have gone to a support group for patients and their caregivers. Last week I got really good news that all was okay and I don't have to return till July. I didn't go to the meeting because I just didn't want to think about it. I even questioned this on here. But I did feel selfish- like I'm only thinking of me. And perhaps I could be of help to the others. Actually when I called the leader to say I wasn't going to come that evening I hung up and sobbed. It was a feeling of despair that this big C experience will always be hanging over my head. Between all these responses and some of the other strings posted I guess none of us are crazy after all!! This is a rough ride at times.

      over 5 years ago
    • Russ' Avatar

      Dear thil2633,
      It is certainly normal to breakdown after your treatments are over, and then to hear that story from someone else who now has bone cancer after being in remission. It is easy for me to say, but somehow you need to block this story out of your mind. Just because someone's cancer has returned it doesn't mean that your's will. How about all of those who never had their cancer return? I would suspect there are a lot more of them than not. Once we are finished with our treatments we are more susceptible to our fears of it returning. Those treatments that we all hated are now gone, they were like our security blanket. As long as we were receiving treatments the cancer could not return; but now that we're finished with our treatments it might return. I would venture to say that out of all the people who are on this website...a very small percentage of them had their cancer return. We who have had cancer, but have never had it returned are behind you 100%. Just read all of these emails over and over again every day. You will feel the positive emotions that are being sent your way.
      Hang in there....

      over 5 years ago
    • attypatty's Avatar

      Dear Thil:
      First and foremost, yes, breakdowns are to be expected for cancer survivors whenever they occur. It's scary stuff and triggers emotions that other people may never appreciate. A breakdown can also be cathartic and healthy IF it leads to letting go of some fears and worries. We simply cannot carry around all of the emotional burdens of cancer all of the time. It's hard enough to carry the physical burdens which often we cannot change. But we can change our feelings. Sometimes, though, in order to change our feelings and get into a more positive frame of mind, and to acheive a better sense of well-being, we simply have to go through the anger, the hurt, the fear, the unfairness. We have good reason to feel the way we do. It's perfectly understandable that someone's experience triggered thoughts that this could happen to me, this could be my future. And I don't want to face that future. I want my future to be healthy and happy and cancer-free. The truth is, there is no reason to think that what happened to someone else will happen to you. If your neighbor died of a heart attack, would you expect to be next? So let out all those negative emotions, cry and kick and scream and moan. You will feel better.
      FIght On,

      over 5 years ago
    • carter4's Avatar

      Have a breakdown (or two) - just don't stay that way !!! Sending positive vibes your way !!

      over 5 years ago
    • Grandy's Avatar

      Me too, Thil, everyone's been singing my praises about being positive. I just finished chemo and am headed to surgery in 4wks. Yesterday I got down.. So this has just been a great subject you brought up. It has helped me already!!!! HUGS!

      over 5 years ago
    • ld_105's Avatar

      Thanks for all the comments here. I am almost finished with active treatment and find that my emotions are on a roll. Thankfully I have this web site the support here helps me to realize that I am not crazy and that this process takes much longer than expected. I am finding that even though my surgeries are done I still need emotional support to deal with the emotions I repressed during doctors appointments, biopsies, MRIs, etc. Stay positive, I'm painting and decorating to renew my apartment and let go of old stuff, emotions and furnishing included.

      about 5 years ago

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