Life 1 year 3 months post treatment

Hi all, 

I feel like I should begin this by apologising. I can see that a lot of ladies on here have managed a lot better than me under a lot more difficult circs.

This is where I am so far: - In 2019 I had treatment for Stage 3 cervical ca with micromets’ i.e.,  radical hysterectomy in January, 5 weeks chemo-rads starting in April, brachy in May. I returned to work end of May, started 2nd sick leave end of Feb’, and am due back to work in 3 weeks.

So first I jumped straight back into work, and then I crashed, and now I’m off again. The first day back at work was a couple of weeks post brachy and I ground to a halt somewhat over a period of 8 months. I’ve since been off work for about 5 months with what has been put down as ‘anxiety and depression’. It seemed to me that these 5 months had been helpful and restful, as restful and it can be in a pandemic, and I started to feel much more myself. Not completely back to normal, of course, but I certainly felt on-track.

But, as the last month has rolled by, I’ve been completely floored by insomnia, hot flashed, fatigue, anxiety and depression; these last months have been THE WORST; they have been pretty much devoid of energy and peppered with migraines, dizziness, and low mood. For most people a solid 5 months off is a luxury that is not available; there has been so much support from my boss in terms of taking time off, and now I’m due to go back but I feel completely worse than I did before.

I’m worried that going back now will have the same result: jumping back in, crashing, taking more time off. I really hoped that this wouldn’t happen, and I believed that I’d be on top of my symptoms by now, but it’s taken time to get my oncologist to recognise that I need a referral to the menopause clinic, and that my symptoms aren’t depression and radiotherapy related.

I know for a fact that if I’m to get on top of this I need to be able to sleep. And in the last 6 weeks I’ve had to sleep on the floor under an open window with a fan next to me. This has helped me get about 4 hours of broken, sweaty sleep.

It shouldn’t be this way. My plan was that I’d be able to go back to work refreshed and invigorated. Instead, I feel completely exhausted. I’m waiting to talk to the menopause specialist. They have a really great reputation, and my surgeon who made the referral has already suggested they consider testosterone. The expectation that forced menopause would be treated on an individual basis is what I assumed would be the case. It just didn’t work like. I've bounced about from tibilone 2.5mg, to various patches, and back to tibilone (easiest to get hold offrom pharamcists). My whole HRT routine has been based on what's available at the pharamcist/and is the same dosage I'd be prescribed as if I was going through natural, age-appropriate menopause.

Now I’m worried that I won’t be able to return to work in 3 weeks. To me, one of the most important aspects of this 2nd sick leave was getting back into a decent routine, but the menopause has completely stopped me from sleeping properly. I didn't expect it to hit me so badly,. I have a physical job – I’m a nurse – so I want to feel stronger than this if I’m to manage properly. As I said, my boss is really supportive so I think I will be able to take more time, but this is getting ridiculous and embarassing. I should be feeling better. 

I’m also upset that my vagina hurts all the time and is about half the length it used to be.


I’m sorry to moan.  


It's okay to moan. I remember when I had my daughter the birth was early and traumatic. Everyone expected my to be completely happy because I had a baby, and I was happy, but I was also in pain, severely anemic due to blood loss, and dealing with an infection from the surgery. I was grateful but miserable. A very wise nurse told me - "Take the time you need to mourn the birth you thought you were going to have." Those words meant so much to me. It was okay to be sad about how things went and my body and how I felt. 
I thought about those words a lot after cancer treatment. Everyone is expecting you to be happy - it's over, you made it! But my body was broken, I had terrible side effects, and while I knew my body would never be the same I didn't know how bad things would be. And then there's the constant worry about if you got all the cancer, or if it comes back. But I think you need to take time to mourn for the life you thought you'd have - one free of cancer. It's okay to do this and feel sad. But what you can't let it do is steal the life you can live, your new life, from you. My body will never be the same, my life will never be the same. But I'm going to live the best life I can. I hope you can too.