More Cancer Side Effects

More Cancer Side Effects

In the last week, I have come to the realization that I am still having side effects from FBC (f-bomb breast cancer) treatment. The Silver Lining is that these side effect no longer require days lingering over or near the porcelain potty. Rather these side effects are psychic. The not-so-Silver Lining is that psychic toxicity is still…toxicity.

Lately, I have had some gnarly exposure to some pernicious people and circumstances. Sad, but true. I need not go into detail because I know that (unfortunately) you can only imagine. Suffice it to say, these are the people (and resulting circumstances) who are always a victim and never at fault,  consistently negative, maintain no boundaries, and have a tragedy/drama everyday. See what I mean? You know the people.

The great revelation is that just as I was “allergic” to the toxicity of chemo, I am having similar reactions to deleterious behavior in people. So, what to do?  First of all, recognize it. Identify the source of negativity.  Then, do something about it!

I recognize that this is easier said than done. Prior to FBC, I tolerated a whole lot of S**T. All too often, I thought, “Well, he is just insecure…”  or “She is having a bad day…”  The truth of the matter is that I knew better and just buried my feelings.

Now, however, there is no burying of these feelings. I respond to poisonous circumstances viscerally, most often by getting a big fat headache and chemo-esque nausea.

I now see this inability to bury my emotions as a Silver Lining. Certainly there are difficult circumstances in life with which we all must contend. Duh. That’s just part of life. What I now know for sure is that I have lost all capacity to tolerate pestilential people or situations.

Here is how I am handling my current situation:

  1. Set boundaries. Simply say, “No” to the text that says “Call Me” (without a please, by the way).
  2. Spend less time with them. The less time you spend with them, the less control they have on you. It’s just how this movie rolls.
  3. Detach emotionally. Do not engage. Their drama is not your drama. Don’t take it on.
  4. Don’t try to fix them. This is a lost cause that will just leave you exhausted from going in circles. They will find a way to be the victim again and manipulate their way back into control of the relationship.
  5. Don’t cut them off all of a sudden because it will only exacerbate the situation and that just wouldn’t be pretty.

Do you have any toxic people in your life?  I sure hope not, but if you do, how do you handle them?

Leave a comment


  1. MIchelle Moss says

    I was diagnosed on March 1st with Invasive Lobular Cancer and DCIS in my right breast. Like you I decided to have the double mastectomy. I was fortunate to not have any lymph node involvement but there was the recommendation to be treated with aromatase inhibitors. It made me soul-less and sick. I decided, after alot of serious research, conversations with my oncologist and listening to my heart to discontinue this course of treatment. I still am going to the oncologist but no drugs. Well, sure as a whirl, I became the topic du jour. Most who really know me understood. That is when I learned who really had taken the time to get to know me in our friendships. I have always said my joy was my greatest vanity and it had been stripped. Take my breasts but leave me my joy! When well meaning folks expressed their concern I had to ask myself as I had instructed my daughters to do in their teenage years, "is my life better because this person is in my life or not?" Needless to say the naysayers are not my frequent companions. I am relieved not to have the burden of their negativity impacting the quality of my day. And I feel the joy…

    • says

      Dear Michelle,
      Many thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. I'm so, so, so happy to hear that you are feeling the joy. I'm also so happy to hear that you are listening to your body to determine what the best course of treatment is.
      Sending all of my very best wishes to you!
      Take good care,

  2. Angela Holdread says

    I have set goals and boundries for myself. No one not even the family I live with is going to be rude or judge my day. When I let this happen, I almost get physically sick. I am the only female in the house. Everyone needs to understand that like it or not, you are not the same person you were before the f-bomb cancer came into your life. I have compassion for those that are going thru it or have been thru it and understand. Often I have said to my hubby and my 19 yr.old, I would never wish this on you but if you could just walk in my shoes one day, just one day, the respect would be there for where I am at today! Thank-you for letting us share this subject with you and others! <3

  3. says

    Thank you for your note, Claudia. I am always so appreciative of your comments and feedback. This comment isn't a ramble, I think your comment is beautifully said!

  4. Mary says

    I agree…detach emotionally asap. Have had some of those in my life, too. I think that there are many out there that just do not develop to their potential. It is not your fault. Don't take them on to raise. If you do, you rob them of the posibilites of personal growth. Strong people learn from their experiences. Experience breeds self confidence.

  5. Jennifer says

    Story of my life since fbc in 2009…I have never felt such freedom from this negativity…family or not they are not allowed!

  6. Paula says

    I love your blog!
    Have you ever tried drinking coconut water (a good one) ? It's fabulous after chemo treatments.

    A warm embrace from Portugal


  7. Kim C says

    Yes Hollye, I couldn't agree more about the drama, toxicity and impolite people. Let's hear it for self responsibility!!! Right on!

  8. Carmen says


  9. Joy says

    You hit the nail on the head. I think what becomes clear after realizing "we" had the opportunity to fight for our life, it takes energy to interact on a daily basis. I know I have become selective on where I want to give my energy. I have come to realize, pre-cancer I thought I had an endless pool of energy and wasn't respecting that it wasn't infinite.
    Now it becomes so clear to me the patterns of behavior of those who try to get all of your energy all of the time – with their drama. There aren't tons of these types but it has become clear to me that there was never respect of me and what it took from me as I gave of myself – to even just listen to their issue. So now I am so much more aware of how I want to spend my time, my energy. I want to be selective, so as to have more positive experiences in my life. I am having many "Aha" moments now as I re-enter and create a healthier life for myself.
    So Hollye, thank you for bringing to light a realization that I too have had and is really a "silver lining". Have a beautiful day and only absorb positive energy for true health – mind-body-spirit.

  10. Regan says

    Hollye – this is the BEST POST!! My post cancer motto became "Surround yourself only with people who lift you higher". I had a few toxic "friendships" that became completely intolerable almost over night. Wow did cancer put things into perspective for me…what a gift!! For some reason I felt the need to take in the "wounded squirrel" and try to help them…then when my moment of need arrived was surprised to find that the squirrel was no where to be found. Let's just say cancer cured my desire to take in the "wounded squirrels". My life is so much better now as it is both lighter and energy has been freed up for other rich give-take relationships.

  11. Charlyn Coleman says

    I'm lucky in that most of my co-workers, friends, etc, are positive people, but I think that I have distanced myself subconscencely all my life. I used to be one of those people, and SILVER LINING, breast cancer and surviving it have made me realize life is just way too short for it. Through you and your positive outlook, I have become a better person dwelling on the positive things and not burdening myself down with all the negative. Thank you from the "heart of my bottom"!!!

  12. Jen Bagley says

    Nicely said (or written). I had someone like that. She was jealous because I was getting more attention then she was (after my FBC). I haven't talked tomy B or SIL cause she is poison.

  13. PATTI WHITE says

    Amen to eliminating toxicity in your life! That used to be what I thought of as part of life to be tolerated and unfortunately at times entertaining…now I have little tolerance for the drama and sometimes actually find myself biting(literally!) my tongue. I want to say to these people Count your blessings, be grateful for each and everyday and person God has put in your life. Often I will say that and then I must explain that my filter on how I look at life and people has changed so much that I can no longer keep those thoughts in my head! They just come out of my mouth! Life is too precious to allow negativity and toxicity affect one's life.

  14. says

    Holly – I'm now 1 year post BC and I too find that I have way less tolerance for negative people and I too have started to use the label of "toxic" for people who consistently radiate that type of energy. The difference for me now, post FBC, and how I would have dealt with the same people and energy pre-FBC is that I now just let them go. I don't get all engaged in their drama. I don't judge their story or their choices, I just recognize that it's not the story or choice I want to be involved with, and disengage from it/them. It's like a muscle I've slowly learned to use and the benefits of not engaging in other people's toxicity is really wonderful. The distinction for me is that pre-FBC I would judge them. Now, post FBC, I have more ability to view them with empathy but still without getting sucked into their drama. Not exactly sure why – I think it's because I truly believe that the drama and toxicity has a negative impact on my health so I quickly let it go. Anyway, long ramble, but so glad for you that you're learning to let those people go from your life so that you can focus on all the great things you DO have – your amazing husband, your beautiful daughter, and your health! Best, Claudia

  15. says

    Oh Hollye, Very well said!
    I think this is the SILVER LINING of going through what we've been through-it makes us see more clearly how we want to spend the rest of our time here on earth (whether it's 1 month or 50 years!) It has also taught me to be more empathetic, however, it is a fine line, so that being said we need to think about what is best for us. I've told more than one person in the past few years since I've been in remission how you can't control other people, but you can control how you react to what they're doing-something I've had to remind myself of more than once when I come in contact with certain people! Thank you for not only bringing this into your blog, but offering solutions…I'll be passing this on! Have an awesome CA day:) xoxo, Heather

  16. Maili says

    I'm so sorry you have had to deal with this but just as your pain through cancer has been an opportunity to help/teach others to rise above, this negative situation is the same. All five points were significant but the third: "detach emotionally" is where the key power and freedom lie. Because once you detach emotionally they can't affect you.

    We all have people out there who drain us or fill us up. It is important to let go off the drains and then surround yourself more with the ones who fill you up.

    I hope this post will help others and that it set you free.

    With love, Maili