Secondary Breast Cancer: Good news but feeling blue

Ismena Clout
157896485 300x199 Secondary Breast Cancer: Good news but feeling blue

(Getty Images)

I seem to be in a never ending storm of feeling blue, tired, run down, fed up, lonely and sad and I’m having a tough time finding the sunshine again.

I always knew my big trip abroad would be an incredible experience but difficult for me health wise. However, I never knew it would set me back so far. I went way for a three-week adventure of work, play and friends. I had a five-day beach trip, a five-day work trip and a seven-day visit to friends booked in Malaysia and Australia.

It was great but it was hard too; there were battles with the airline over seat changes; there were battles with hotels over bad service, bad rooms and bad smells; there were lots of long haul flights; there were lots of carrying too many bags; there were dodgy stomachs and a poorly digestive system; there were lots of tears. Challenging enough for a healthy person but for someone with secondary breast cancer, it’s doubly hard.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I went and the highlight was seeing one of my best friends get married, a memory I will cherish for a lifetime. Seeing him so settled, happy and in love made me a very happy lady indeed.

The journey home from Australia was an ordeal and left me totally spent and exhausted, to such an extent that I haven’t left my house much in three weeks. I’ve done everything I’ve needed to do such as keep up with friends, go to hospital appointments and business meetings but I haven’t done any of the extra stuff: the earn money stuff, the get fresh air stuff.

My counsellor described my home as my safe place and she is right, I feel safe here and the world outside feels very scary right now. Big, harsh and scary. It’s frustrating and annoying and I want to give myself a shake and a good kick up the bum but I don’t seem to have the energy.

I think about how you shouldn’t have to do all this life and cancer stuff on your own and I realise how tired I am, not sleepy tired but tired to my core.

Tired of going to the hospital on my own for all the tests and treatments; tired of making all my own food and sorting my house out; tired of finding the energy to get up every morning and face each day, trying to smile and make the world think everything is okay; tired of pretending that I might see that wonderful friend in Australia again and that wasn’t the last time we said goodbye; tired of carrying this weight on my shoulders around on my own.

And then there is the guilt. I know I am one of the lucky ones, I am stable again, my tumours are under control. There are so many women and men who aren’t in my position, so I should be out there, seizing life by the hands and having fun. I just can’t find the energy at the moment, I will but alright now it feels too hard.

I do have hope though… I know this is just a phase and I have good moments as well as bad ones. In a few weeks time I’ll read this blog and groan at how self pitying it is. I will find my strength, gumption and power again but right now it all feels too big. This is my life, this yo-yo from active cancer to controlled cancer to active cancer, and each time it changes I have to change with it, my world has to change with it until there are no more changes. So I’m having some difficulty with this latest change even though it’s a good change, that my tumours are under control once more. So I’m resting in my safe place because I don’t believe the saying that a change is as good as rest, I think this change needs a rest.

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  • Donald Chris

    You should not lose hope, be strong and you could be an inspiration for other women.

  • SophieMarshall

    Dear Ismena,

    I think that your response is natural and ineluctable, Ismena. Hope this will be a temporary blip in your journey and that you are restored to your former strength to enjoy plotting and planning your course. You are an incredibly inspirational young woman, and somehow I think that you will manage to rest and recuperate after what sounds like a very physically and emotionally taxing trip. No one can tell you this isn’t an understandable response to your predicament and if you felt that saying goodbye to your dear friend was a harbinger of the end then that is certainly not the inevitable outcome, but surely one that has hurt your well-being to contemplate. I wish you so much and hope that you will have many more satisfying and wonderful times in your life and your hope and health returns again.

  • trottitout

    Can I recommend a book to you, Donald? It’s called Emotional Intelligence. Look it up, it could help you.

    Meanwhile, Ms Clout, hope that you had a wry smile at dear Donald’s offering and don’t take it on as the burdensome claptrap that it is.

    You have been doing well, and now if you want a rest before you get back to things you enjoy then that’s what you are going to do. It’s more than likely that you are depressed, and rather begs the question why wouldn’t you be… This may be rather intrusive and presumptious of me, but why not get some medical advice about this, and see if there isn’t something you could take to help you through this dark patch? You are a lovely and intelligent girl who will no doubt be laughing at my tardy suggestion, but remember that there are far more people who genuinely care about you than you could ever imagine.

  • trottitout


  • ShelaghW

    Dear Ismena
    You are being too hard on yourself. My goodness, even fit folk can take weeks to recover from long haul flights. You are coping with so much. Nothing wrong in resting your body.
    Sometimes I get angry when I hear people say, (people who are not living with cancer and who have no experience of knowing anyone who has had cancer), “you must stay positive”. I cannot swear on this blog, but remarks like that beg the response , “you stay positive, I have cancer and I feel f………….. awful! ”
    I have breast cancer and these past few years have been an education. I have met so many strong women who have been an inspiration to me. On the down side I have had friends who have deserted me.
    Rest is a great healing power. Take it and do not worry about it. Give yourself time to recover from your travels and then plan for the next ones.
    take care
    Shelagh Watt

  • susants

    I know just how you feel. I have stage 4 lung cancer which is stable at the moment. I am fit, keep up with business and many medical appointments (including pain management unrelated to the cancer) as well as have some social life. Travel, disruption to home by workmen and moving house present stesses for anyone’s body. For us, the stresses can be overwhelming. People with cancer, in remission or not, have limited energy and suffer lethargy as side effects. Sadly, this is normal. We push ourselves to keep going. For the lucky well, forgive us for being a little angry and annoyed at times at our limitations. Please don’t assume it’s all about depression for which pills or a doctor can help – magically. Rest, pacing and acceptance are the only things that can help. An occasional growl is healthy.

  • Ersie Courea

    Lady, you should be at an alternative cancer clinic or doing only raw food with hired help. Also walk for hours

  • richard.loe22

    I know how you feel Ismena. Being tired as a result of both the illness and the treatment isn’t much fun, but as you say it goes in waves. I find that the most frustrating part of the tiredness is feeling (in some cases knowing) that you can’t manage something. But the worst part (and what I find makes the tiredness worse) is saying goodbye to friends you don’t see often, knowing that you might not meet again. I find that emotionally exhausting – and seeing such friends for the first time in ages is almost equally tiring. As susants wrote, it isn’t depression so much as it is tiredness. And for the healthy among you, please forgive us the occasional outburst – we don’t mean it, but (speaking personally) sometimes it makes things better…

  • zandeman

    Shut up.

  • Pingback: Secondary Breast Cancer: Benefits and me | Ismena Clout | Independent Editor's choice Blogs

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