Lauren Mahon, 32, writes about her breast cancer diagnosis and the mental and emotional challenges faced on the path to recovery.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31 and barely any boobs I thought they were having a laugh. But they weren’t. And I did. I have a grade 3 cancerous tumour in my breast which had set up residence without consent and sent my world into a tail spin.
The physical impact of cancer treatment was terrifying but I was in no way prepared for the emotional upheaval I was about to face. As somebody who has always been life and soul of the party I began to feel completely isolated and lonely, no longer able to be the person I know myself to be. I lost my sense of self and my confidence. I didn’t look like me or feel like me and I felt a gaping distance between myself and my peers. My priorities and capabilities had changed and my friends just didn’t ‘get it’.
Luckily for me I had the option of counselling at the Royal Marsden which provided no end of support when I slipped into distress and anxiety. It also put the skills I acquired from my CBT sessions to good use, which is something I think should be offered to patients at the point of diagnosis. I hands down would not have handled my cancer treatment without it.
As a young adult dealing with cancer my priorities are different to those raised in the literature provided. Whilst most are preparing you to tell the children, my concern was when can I have a glass of prosecco?!
The anxiety around recovery is tough and it’s a constant battle to know if what you’re doing is right or wrong. I’m always anxious that I’m not doing enough for my body. You read stories in the papers about the latest health trends but it’s not clear whether they should be adhered to. It would be great to have clearer direction for recovery – a plan almost. Diet guides and exercise routines tailored to you so you feel like you’re getting somewhere and seeing an improvement. Also knowing what symptoms are sinister and should be taken to your oncology team and what should be handled by your GP – clearer communication between the two.
I’m proud to have taken part in this report and wanted to air the issues I feel are sometimes overlooked when examining the big picture. It’s these little things that make a big difference to us patients.
In: Blog, News, blogs & videos
Tagged: cancer, mental health, rehab, rehabilitation