Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Weekly Discussion Summary ~ Finding the New Me

In this week's discussion we explored the ‘positives’ and ‘negatives’ of living with cancer and its effects and the challenges of understanding the ‘new’ me.

Naz began by asking some challenging questions:
Should the cancer have changed me? For the worse AND better? 
What should my ‘profile’ look like? Stronger? Weaker? Both? 
If both, then how can weak and strong live together in harmony?

Naz explained the huge role working memory plays in our everyday lives and how our responses to cancer can lead to cognitive interference as our working memory is dominated by our vigilance. She believes we need to build resilience. This allows us to develop cognitive flexibility by finding a lightness within our fear and sadness. Bringing together the 'good' and the 'bad' can lead to a new normal which can be special and complete. 

Our responses were diverse: some spoke of physical challenges, and our points of view were partly shaped by whether we were recently diagnosed, living with 'no evidence of disease' or whether we had a secondary diagnosis. We agreed that whether we like it or not, we are not the same, we have changed bodies and feel different. Some of us described feeling comfortable with our new selves. Some of us feel anxiety and fear, a sense of loss and grief for the person we once were. Many of us described seeking new opportunities and discovering a new zest for life, even while experiencing sadness and loss. 

While we could acknowledge that we are different, accepting our new selves is another matter. Many of us experience fatigue, but are reluctant to admit our physical struggles as we don’t want to appear weak, especially at work. The fear of recurrence is strong, but can also be a driver for positive change leading us to adopt a 'can do’ attitude. Many harness this to make life changes, and others say they’ve stopped planning for retirement, preferring to live life now, spending more freely to enjoy the experience of being alive and taking more pleasure in the everyday. 

Some of us look back and cannot relate to who they were before cancer, we are perhaps more emotional, sensitive and empathetic now. Some days we find ourselves grieving for our old selves, we feel lost and want to hide away. Some days we feel strong, we can take on the world. The challenge of being on this rollercoaster is to bring these extremes into balance. 

We learn from cancer that we need to live now. As one member put it: ’The old me was worried about getting old, the new me is scared she won’t get to.’ 

Our overall discussion concluded we are undoubtedly changed. We are weak, AND we are strong. We are darkness AND we are light. We are sad AND we are joyful. 

If you are a woman with a diagnosis of breast cancer and you would like to join our closed private group, please message us on our public page:


A big thank you to Jo for allowing us to share this beautiful image of bluebells.

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