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Breast Cancer Causes Moments of Anger and Grief

By August 19, 2013

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Angry Woman
Angry Woman
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One day during my chemo treatments, I stopped on the way home from work to pick up some groceries for supper. It was summer, my wig was hot, I felt lopsided, and I was tired from the long drive as well as the side effects. Inside the cool, clean grocery store, people were pushing carts around and filling baskets with items for their families. Upbeat music was playing, young families were strolling, and I suddenly felt angry. Very angry and very resentful. I felt like the only person in there who had to deal with breast cancer.

Please know that I'm not proud of this sudden blast of anger and I don't suggest it as emotional therapy. It just jumped on me in a time of self-pity and blindsided me. I suddenly found myself mad at God. Why didn't God - who is supposed to love me - not prevent this cancer and all that had come with it? Then my Evil Twin started up, "You didn't deserve this - that other lady should have cancer instead of you! After all she's not taking good care of herself." The Other Lady was walking with her back to me, and when she turned to speak to her husband, I saw her tiny daughter riding in the cart. Hot tears came up and I turned away. No kids for me, just chemo. But if the Other Lady had to deal with cancer treatments, how hard it would be on her family!

My heart moved from anger to blame and then to shame. But having that moment of anger was actually good for me. Even after a mastectomy and heavy-duty chemo, I still didn't really believe that I had breast cancer. I had grieved when receiving my diagnosis, but hadn't moved on from denial. Having that fit of anger pushed me to accept my situation and allowed me to break through, to make progress with some of the loss that having cancer brings.

If you're dealing with breast cancer, whether in treatment or post-treatment, it is okay to be angry. There's nothing fair or reasonable about having cancer. When the anger comes up, feel it, then figure out where it should go. Don't remain in anger - pass through it and accept it. Anger should not become a lifestyle. Nobody needs the stress that maintaining a constant level of anger will create. Have your anger, accept it as normal, and deal with the sadness that may follow. Seek help if you get stuck in depression - that's also normal with breast cancer. Your diagnosis does not define you - the cancer does not own you. Choose to heal on many levels, with help and support.

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August 21, 2013 at 9:45 am
(1) Mary Anne says:

When I was dealing with my diagnosis, I was also dealing with having been informed that I was loosing my job, and had just had to put my mother into a 24/7 facility as her guardian. At 91, she was suffering from dementia. Six days after my job ended, I had my mastectomy (the day after Christmas, 2007). While I was in the hospital recovering, mother was in the ER downstairs having fallen once again trying to get out of a wheelchair. I had to stop myself from going downstairs to check on her. Over the next few months, while undergoing my recovery, I was constantly at the nursing home with her and also looking for a job. I couldn’t share what I was going through with her because of her dementia. Plus my marriage was ending (had been bad for a long time). I felt sadness at first and fear with the diagnosis and surgery, but didn’t have time for anger – too much was happening to me at once. My mother died in May 2008 and by another year I had found a job, had 2 reconstructive surgeries and divorced my ex after almost 45 years of marriage. What was interesting was that through all the stress (mom also had several other ER trips and a surgery too in the months before she died) I didn’t go crazy…I think that I emerged from all of this stronger than I had even been.

August 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm
(2) Ruth says:

Two things helped me cope, first with my initial diagnosis and then with my learning that I had to take a second round of chemo. You can call them “pop-up thoughts” or, as I do, messages from God. As I got my initial diagnosis over the phone, first my mind screamed silently, then my heart wept. But then I “heard” in my heart, “God can’t keep you from having cancer but he can see you through it.” Suddenly everything made sense: we are given free will (thus why there is so much evil in the world) but God is always there to support us and help us through the journey. And He did; finding the best team of doctors, the best support system, the best treatment available. Then, given the news that I had to endure 12 more weekly chemo treatments, I found myself in total despair. I cannot do this, I wept. But again, I “heard” in my heart: “God never gives you more than you can handle.” And I knew it was true; Ii could not have handled this information at the beginning of the long journey through breast cancer treatment, but I COULD–and did–handle it then. I am now on the other side of aggressive (and successful) treatment but am forever thankful for these episodes that helped me cope with my cancer.

September 10, 2013 at 8:36 pm
(3) Michele says:

Anger. That’s an understatement. I am newly diagnosed and thought I was crazy for being angry. After all it nobody’s fault. Nobody to blame. Life has not always been kind. But I have always come through. I thought that my life would be about me now. Just sent my daughter off to college. I’m 52, single. I just don’t think God likes me very much. He never cuts me any slack. I had clean margins, clean nodes. I should not need chemo. But then he blindsided me with HER2+. That needs chemo and Herceptin. And I’m Still Mad.

October 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm
(4) Heather says:

I actually had to discuss this posting, _Breast Cancer Causes Moments of Anger and Grief_ together with my own friends on twitter. I personally simply just planned to distribute ur superb publishing!
Thx, Bebe

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