Stopping the downward spiral

I was planning to start this post by saying that once you’ve got a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s at the back of your mind all the time. But as I wrote it, I realised that wasn’t true. It’s actually at the very front of your mind most of the time. You think of little else. Something will distract for a while and then, wham, it’s right back again.

The daftest things cross your mind. Take my ski boots. Last winter, after renting skis and ski boots twice every season for more than ten years, I decided to buy my own boots. Now I’m annoyed I won’t be using them this coming season (it’s likely I’ll have the mastectomy and full lymph removal in January) and I can’t help thinking I was somehow tempting fate by buying them. I go skiing with some girlfriends and we book our flights eight, nine or even ten months in advance. How presumptuous, I now think, ignoring the fact we’ve done the same thing for the past nine years and it’s been fine.

And in the changing room at work the other day after I’d cycled in? There was another woman getting changed too and, as I whipped off my sports bra, I found myself wondering whether I’d still do that post-surgery or whether I’d feel I needed to go into a cubicle to get changed. And then that gets you thinking about how long it’ll be before you’ll be able to cycle into work again after surgery. And then about how long will it be before you’ll be able to do another 63-mile bike ride, like the one you did with a friend the day before the appointment where you asked your GP to check your breast.

I know how destructive worrying about the future can be, but by now you’re in a downward spiral, thinking the worst. You start wondering whether, after surgery, you’ll ever be able to do a long bike ride or play competitive tennis again, or indeed play tennis at all. The same with skiing. And then you force yourself to snap out of it because you know that what matters for now is treating and getting rid of the cancer, not what you will or will not be able to do physically once you’ve done that.

The only thing that really matters is getting better.

3 thoughts on “Stopping the downward spiral

  1. It can be a struggle against the spiral, your strength to see it and ‘snap out of it’ is to be admired. Your fighting spirit will see you through this! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maureen, I know exactly how you feel. I had my double mastectomy in October and was on the golf range hitting soft wedges in the January. All through the Chemo I still played 18 holes of golf (except on the bad part of the cycle) so you will be fine with Tennis – just take it easy to start. It is now 13 months since my chemo finished and I feel my fitness levels are now returning. It is frustrating at the time, but be assured you will get back to normal. The fact that you are active is such a positive thing. If anything it makes you appreciate all the simple things in life. Take it easy and listen to your body xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Maureen, you know my mum’s history. The first cycle her consultant agreed to was 40 miles around Loch Katrine. He later pointed out she had told him it would be a wee turn round the block! I don’t think you need to worry about your days of long cycles being over x

    Liked by 1 person

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