Unexpected Letdown

When I finished with radiation and started settling in at home, a new and unexpected side effect arose: post-treatment letdown. I know. I know. How dare I suggest it? Why on earth would I think it?

When diagnosed with FBC (F-bomb breast cancer), I felt the loss of my health.  Then the loss of my breasts. Then the loss of my mind. Now, I feel the loss of treatment.

When people ask how I’m feeling, they want to hear:  “I feel great!”  What I want to say is: “I’m exhausted, confused and I miss my daily treatment.”  I usually say something in between.

Please understand that of course I’m thrilled to be done with chemo and radiation. DUH.  I am elated that I am feeling well enough to be fully present for Finally Five and the HOTY.  I am beyond excited to hike, catch up with friends and even to begin thinking about my professional life again (Silver Lining).

What I know about myself is that I am a person who loves habit and consistency. Treatment became a comforting constant in my life.  Medical treatment is a satisfyingly structured exercise that feeds my craving for consistency. Radiation felt similar to a job. Monday through Friday, I showed up at 7:40 am for my 7:45 treatment.  Just like clockwork.

I know that not having anymore radiation treatments and receiving a great report from my radiation oncologist is a sign of progress, of success even. However, not having my daily treatments leaves me feeling static.

The truth is that having treatment, doing something, is easier than the uncertainty of waiting.

Additionally the end of treatment leaves me alone with my body.  I admit to having a slightly distrustful relationship with my body right now.  It did, after all, dupe me by getting FBC in the first place.

I’m very hopeful that we (my mind, heart and body) have reconciled whatever caused the dis-ease in the first place so that we can move forward into the next chapter of life, in unison and without FBC (Silver Lining).



Patience is the ability to end our expectations.

Monk, Mt Shasta Abbey

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  1. אלרט פיי says

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  2. Robbin Valerio says

    I am sitting here tonight reading all these posts and find them helpful. This week out of the blue my day at work turned to hell, I had as I now refer to it as a "meltdown". For no known reason I was very emotional and out of sorts. By the time I left work to go for my daily dose of radiation I was in tears again. I broke down in the waiting area and a few of the caretakers saw and were quick to offer me comfort; a box of kleenex , a blanket and kind words. I got hugs from two of the ladies in the same place as me, what I needed. But I couldn't figure out why I was having a day like this, I am usually pretty happy go lucky. After talking with a coworker and my caregivers I realized that with all the time I have spent taking care of my husband since March 2011, through his 4 different surgeries this year, and then being diagnosed in September 2011 with BC, I never really had time to deal with my BC and all of a sudden hubby is home from the hopefully, last surgery and now I have time to focus. BOOM, I have BC and my treatment is 3 days away from being done and then I will take Femara for 5 years. This all just overwhelmed me I guess and now I read and hear that this is normal to feel the way I do as I near the end of my treatment. I won't be seeing all these wonderful people and what's next. Thanks for sharing all that you do, I have found comfort in this site. Best wishes to you.

    • says

      Thanks so much for your note, Robbin. I really appreciate your sharing your story. I'm so sorry to hear about how challenging your week has been. I hope that your weekend is better. Sending all my best wishes to you!

  3. says

    I felt like I was suddenly left alone on the battlefield after my treatments ended. As though the generals, in whom I had placed my trust and all my courage had deserted me. And now, I was now to stand first guard for the possible return of the fire-breathing dragon which together we had vanquished. I didn't feel I had courage or strength enough to stand alone.

    Then I remembered all my previous battles. I was never alone whether the various generals were there or not. My Hoty, my sisters, my Finally 18 and Finally 17, stood right beside me.

    It gets better.

    • Brookside Buzz says

      Dear Karen,
      Thank you for your note. I am deeply appreciative of your sharing this part of your story. I'm so glad that you have a HOTY, Sisters and Finally's in your life who are a source of strength that will hopefully keep the fire-breathing dragon (perfect image!) away – forever. Thank you, again!

  4. ann says

    I know, I felt the same way (probably different but mostly similar I imagine) when our three year old daughter completed her 18 months of treatment for a brain tumour. Best thoughts sent your way.

  5. says

    That's so interesting. I felt something very similar. I worried after chemo was done, because during treatment, at least we were keeping any future cancer at bay. Once treatment was over, I felt that I was on my own and that was scary. But, it's been almost a year and all is back to normal. Hope you're tolerating the Tamoxifen well, seems like you are, as you haven't said otherwise. Best wishes.

  6. Karlene says

    Interesting topic today, maybe you can design your own therapy routine. "assign" yourself a routine, fill it with what makes you feel rewarded. Physical exercise -your hikes, mental exercise- research a new topic, social exercise – new place for lunch with friends or attend some presentation in your community. Maybe you miss the structure and creating your own schedule will meet the need for you. Some people can just sit back, relax and recuperate-I am guessing that isn't your style Hollye:)

  7. says

    Hi Hollye,

    My oncologist did warn me about patients going through a depression post treatment. and I did. It was disconcerting to be working on healing, and then, suddenly, have nothing more medical to do. It left a bit of a scary void. I, too, filled it with hiking – in the Santa Monica Mountains. I remember my joy being outdoors and feeling that exercise was my ace in the hole.Glad you live in a great hiking area, also! Best, Pat

  8. michaela says

    Very thought provoking. It is so interesting to know what you really want to say, when people ask you how you are feeling. I think we all ask questions like that, expecting a certain answer. Thank you for this post!

  9. Amy says

    Hey Hollye – Interesting and understandable post. One more topic the Dr.s didn't mention. Don't laugh – but everyday is treeatment day here – although not toxic treatments. Unually tonic treatments :) What I mean is that you are always trying to make our bodies stronger and minds sharper. So, you're still in treatment – just a different type.