Real Stories
28 October 2022

Sarah's story

Coping with an "emotional whirlwind" after finishing breast cancer treatment

Sarah BCAM
Real Stories
28 October 2022

This was certainly the case for our Development & Engagement Officer Sarah. When she finished her final round of treatment for breast cancer, after seemingly endless sessions of chemotherapy and surgery, she experienced intense feelings she describes as “freefalling” as she mentally processed what she had been through and what was to come next.

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Sarah has written a compelling, ‘from the heart’ blog about the emotional whirlwind that accompanied the end of her treatment.


This is how I would describe what happens to you during the time between finishing your treatment and trying to restart your everyday life.

The build-up to finishing treatment was subtle, there were no bells to ring or gongs to bang- it was a brief chat, and I was told that they hoped to never see me in these circumstances again. I was then given back my appointment card from my oncologist. I must have looked puzzled as he then told me that people had different ways of marking that event.

He went on to tell me that some chose to burn their cards, some laminated them and kept them in a safe place while some simply tore them up then binned them.

I decided to keep mine to hand, and nice years on in it remains in my purse so that if I ever had a bad day, I could look at the inked dates on my card - a biro history of ALL my appointments for chemo and oncology check-ups – and remind myself that today was not as bad as any of those and for that I should be grateful.

That last appointment I had in oncology, when I received the card, was the only appointment in eight months of Breast Unit appointments, MRI scans, ultrasound scans, biopsies, blood tests, x-rays and pic line flushes, that I attended on my own. My husband Simon, dad Peter or mum Angie had come with me to everything.

I naively thought I would just be in and out and not need to bring anyone as it was just a formality and I would be fine.

Boy was I wrong!!!

After taking back my appointment card and saying all my “thank yous,” I left the oncology unit and then, like a giant fish out of water, I took a deep intake of fresh air and then literally felt my knees buckle beneath me and I let out the weirdest animal like noise and began to sob.

I realised quickly I wouldn’t now be going into town as I had planned to buy the biggest slice of Marks and Spencer’s cake to celebrate. In that moment, out of all the moments associated with all my treatment I have never felt so small, so fragile and so incredibly lost.

Where was the euphoria? Where was the relief? This was not how I thought I’d feel.

In a blind panic I called Simon who was alarmed to hear me so distraught. I told him, my voice shaking, that this must be like how it feels to have been wrongly imprisoned for a crime you weren’t guilty of and had now been set free!

In the days and weeks to come felt like I was freefalling out of a plane, looking at the world below me and wondering if I would ever land and feel grounded again.

CancerCare helped me to navigate my own course back – they gave me hope that I wouldn’t always be freefalling

Eventually I did land and the ground beneath my feet became familiar once more. It takes time, patience, trust, support, and a whole lot of love- but I got there – we got there.

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