Oesophageal Patients Association
3,461 members2,126 posts

I Feel a fraud

Hi Guys,I rarely post anything but I do read many posts on this site. I was diagnosed 2 years ago with OC and had transhiatial op in athens (I live in Crete) The Op was Successful and I had no fever or other complications. I had 5 months of chemo when I returned to the Island and stayed in hospital 3 days per week as I was on a heavy dose and needed to have over 40 hours out of a period of the 3 days,that over, I had 4 moths of radiotherapy,same senario stayed in hospital as I needed this every day.

I haven't had any treatment now for the last 8 months apart from tablets (omeprozole) however I seem to have hit a wall since my treatment stopped-I feel like I sailed through the surgery/chemo/radiotherapy but now I do not want to go outside the house,I force myself to socialise but know that I would rather be on my own-My wife goes back to the uk every winter (4 months to work) and although I love her dearly and couldn't Imagine myself without her, I am dreading her coming back,I have had depression years ago but I don't know if what I am feeling is depression.I know that i am a very stubborn sod and always thought I needed nobody to help me through anything in my life, I hate being dependent on people and always thought I could get through anything that comes my way alone (this goes back from childhood ) and though I know that I have many people that love me,I have still always felt that I am alone. I hate the thought of people seeing me when I am not at my best,ill,in pain,suffering etc,I am the joker in the pack,I love to make people laugh but just lately I am not Laughing myself,I am not crying either,I certainly don't feel sorry for myself,far from it,I am grateful to still being here and of course i have all the problems that are associated with this condition (well,after reading the problems that people have on this site, I do not have all the problems,Obviously,but I think i have my share) my cancer has not returned (2 scans now,since last of the treatment) I do feel guilty that I am still here,when I know that many have not made it (some that i saw whilst receiving tratment) and I also feel bad that I am not really doing the best for myself,after lots of people have gone out of thier way to keep me alive, I haven't given up,I just haven't done the best for me and I feel so bad about it,of course the more i feel this the more i hate myself for not doing it.

I am working hard (I work on my own) though many say that i am working much too hard but it's all I know. I wonder if I have not addressed the whole Issue of these last 2 years and that I am shying away from doing so.I am scared that i am heading for a fall I am also petrified that the cancer will return but I also beleive that this is normal,all i know is,is that I am feeling like a fraud.

7 Replies

I'm so sorry you're feeling like this. I think it probably is depression, although I'm never quite sure what is depression. I think it's a reaction to everything you've been through in the last two years. You say you sailed through all the treatment. Maybe you coped well physically, but you still suffered what we all suffer, the fear of the cancer coming back. And that is a huge thing to cope with, we all know that.

I do understand the feeling of wanting to stay in the house and hide from the world. Your post describes so well how you're feeling, show it to your Doctor, and your wife, you need their help.

There will be lots of people on here who understand exactly what you're going through.


What you have going in your favour is that you have self awareness and insight... and preparedness to accept that it may well be a "mind issue." Flatness of mood sounds understandable, and a "talking cure" may well work - if you can get it - GPs tend to shovel anti-depressants at you in the UK, because it's the cheap option.

Lots of good self-help books around, which offer a variety of different approaches. Gail Lindenfield's books are especially valuable, and so is one called Toxic Parents - even if your parents weren't/aren't "toxic" it's a great read, and helped me a lot when I went through depression twenty years ago.

1 like

Hi Cretenblue

I hope what I am going to say is of some help because i know exactly what you are going through and it's hell. First of all don't feel guilty at the way you are feeling it's not a weakness and its not something you can help feeling. Hearing you describe yourself is like looking in a mirror if that makes any sense. I too was stubborn sod and thought I could cope with anything, that's one of the reason's why its such a shock to you and to the ego in my case to be feeling this way. I went through 5 years feeling like this before I felt better, but what was the greatest help was seeing a therapist who had lots of experience of this type of illness. Not only did I have depression but I ended up with anxiety which in some ways was worse. How can someone like me feel anxious I'm an ex firefighter, I used to think-lol. well it doesn't matter how tough i thought i was, Post Traumatic Stress because that's what it is in effect is a tough cookie. I spoke to a psychiatrist at a cancer survivors conference a couple of month's ago who treats cancer patient's suffering with depression and he said what I had gone through was an absolute classic case and was entirely typical. He explained that what happens is we go through the whirlwind of the diagnosis all the tests and chemo and in your case radiotherapy and then the surgery. After that you step off the merry go round then you are left to your own devices to all intents and purposes so what do you do with yourself?. Well what I did was worry myself sick was it going to come back -lol. This is all before I came across the OPA site which to me has been a Godsend. I too shied away from all kind's of things because "I couldn't be bothered" or just didn't feel like it. Ruby Wax who now has a degree in Psychology when asked what she felt when depressed said "Nothing". When you are depressed you feel dead inside. I stopped talking to my wife without even realizing it. I don't want you to feel too down by what i have written because there is light at the end of the tunnel,try and get some help, this thing is hard to beat on your own and if you don't mind me saying so don't be afraid to ask your wife for help, my wife was an absolute rock for me and i couldn't have done it without her. I'm sorry to have been so long winded in my answer but i feel its important enough to deserve a thorough reply. And one final thing Please don't feel like a fraud you are anything but.

Kind Regards



What you experience is quite normal. There is a mental track as well as a medical one to travel along. 25% of people who have otherwise successful cancer treatment need to talk to a professional counsellor or equivalent to come to terms with what they have been through, and 10% need medication as well. Starting to wrote down how you feel is a good place to start, and the 'dip' you are experiencing is part of the journey you go through before things start to get better. People are often surprised by how much they have appreciated talking to somebody about all this - you cannot carry on giving your friends a medical bulletin when they ask how you are (if they have not given up).

Peter Harvey wrote a couple of interesting articles called 'Now the treatment has Finished, then what?' and the perils and Pitfalls of Positive Thinking' which might be of use.



So I think you will appreciate seeing your doctor or equivalent as a natural part of finishing off your treatment - people searching for counsellors often (but it is not guaranteed) get drawn mysteriously to the right person for them.

1 like

Hi Cretan Blue,

Like Steve, your message was a bit like looking in the mirror for me too. My op was July 2012 and I feel that I am only just coming out of a prolonged depressed state. It is only on emerging from this condition that I can appreciate how bad it was. I went through a divorce two years before diagnosis and my two daughters came with me. They are now at Uni but still based with me. I met a lovely lady from Spain just before diagnosis and between them they cared for me superbly. However, I was so stubborn and single minded in my 'battle' that I never really showed my gratitude for their love and care. I am fine with my daughters now but my relationship with the Spanish lady has ended. I just wasn't 'giving' anything.

It is interesting that you seem to be finding some solace in your work. I am working part time and enjoying it. It has given me a feeling of self worth again and got my brain ticking over.

I didn't seek counselling but did go to mindfulness/meditation classes which I enjoyed and I now meditate in a simple way.

The trauma of the invasive surgery and drugs takes a long time to work its way out of our body and mind. I think this could be flagged up more clearly by the specialists as being a likely scenario post op. On the other hand, if I had been told this myself I would have said "Oh no, it won't happen to me!"

I hope this ramble will help you a little. One of the great things about this site is that sharing our experiences helps both ways, those new to the site can get hopefully good advice and those of us who have been on it a bit longer can feel we are helping in a small way.

Best wishes



I have found that it has been difficult for me to no longer feel that I am a contributing member of society. I had to retire at the age of 42 from a job that I loved and was quite good at. This job also somewhat defined who I was, so in essence I gave up a part of who I was in addition to a sense of productivity and accomplishment.

I have had to change from being defined by what I do into being defined by who I am.

After the surgery I have learned how much people thought of me while I was working, and have helped in so many little ways after the esophagectomy. Peace has come slowly, and the tide has ebbed and flowed. I have used some of the time that I now have so much of to reconnect with people and to try to appreciate all of the little gifts that we all are given.

Though many limitations exist and will continue to manifest and morph, we as people will continue to adapt and try to overcome.

Please know that you are not alone.


You are not a Fraud! I had my first staff meeting at our Inn today! Could not print my list off of Microsoft word and skipped a social luncheon with my earth angels in order to prepare myself to hold the meeting! I have to forgive myself for not wanting to engage socially at times because I also do not want to be a downer! There are very few people that I truly trust for me 2 be honest and I can count them on one hand! I only have two way friendships now and am somewhat enjoying being selfish in a protective way! I was my parents caretaker and do not have much immediate family left! One thing I do know is without your health & good people in your life you have nothing! I am trying to get my sea legs back and I have good and bad days and guess what I had them before all of this but do get saddened that I am not the high performance woman that I used to be! My Radiologist Oncologist whom happens to be a close friend stated the high performance woman after my surgery my body aged 15 years and I know he did not mean that negatively but internally it is a fact that I am now accepting! We have to make ourselves laugh!

My husband asked me last night"how are you doing?" I stated back I am alive! Day by Day, Moment by Moment! So grateful that I am able to respond to your Fraudulent message! You sound like all of us and what I have done my whole life is beat myself up! That is why now I will not allow anyone else to do so because I have been the master of it and I am learning to let go of some control and it feels good! I am much more relaxed these days! Maybe god needed to show me or whomever I truly do believe that we only get what we can handle and I am learning to like my new position! Working from home on the computer and letting go of trying to be Super Woman!

I want the Landscapers to get out of my backyard and everyone to stay away at times! I am joining the Fraudulent Group!


You may also like...