Panic attacks

Hey Everyone

Just after a bit of advice, i have been diagnosed Stage 1c and had the total hysterectomy 6 weeks ago so now had more scans which didn't show anything which is great and seeing the MDT Team next week to discuss further treatment.

Recently I'm experiencing panic attacks which is so out of my nature!! I own my own business and before had lots of confidence, we live in a small village and myself and my family are well known so now walking into the nearest Tesco fills me with dread....

After my last panic attack where I couldn't breathe at a family gathering, I am trying to think of a coping mechanism or maybe when I bump into someone who asks how I am what do I say?

I've started driving again so feeling more liberated but in unknown territory with this panic and anxiety

any tips would be great xxxxx

22 Replies

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  • A diagnosis of cancer is devestating...and its still early days for you.In my case I really thought last year happened to someone else I was in such denial. Councelling is brilliant and I would urge you to consider it. A very good friend said to me about a cancer diagnosis ...you can't eat an elephant all in one go...only in bite size pieces. It's a process you have to go through and for me it was an emotional rollarcoaster. The emotional impact is hugely underated but it's really important that you contact your specialist nurse/doctor and seek direction as soon as possible. Good luck

  • Yes I have to agree with Bonnie. Counselling through somewhere like Maggie's, or indeed if you can access an onco-psychologist on the NHS near you, that would be great. I've gone down this route with both options and they have helped me understand how to handle my anxiety and fears better. That's not to say that I don't slip back but it does help.

    I also run my own business and felt for a long time that I lacked the same confidence, and that I wasn't the same person. I think that's it: after a cancer diagnosis, you simply aren't the same as you were before. I've worked hard to accept that I'm "different" to other people now, but then you never know how many other cancer survivors you pass in the street without knowing.

    I avoided telling clients about my cancer, and I've continued with my work, albeit in a part time basis really now, and this has allowed me to be my old self for meetings etc. But it's still a challenge for me to go out and "be".

    Totally relate to how you're feeling though, Lisald. But just be glad that your results are good, and try to live in the moment. It works.

    Caroline x

  • I really can't add to what Bonnie11 and Caroline have said, they've both nailed it, the elephant analogy is superb and perhaps an excellent way to live from now on for us all. My son has panic attacks and is finding that CBT therapy is the way forward for him. I just wanted to send you big hugs and lots of love ❤️ xx Jane

  • Hi Jane - love the fact that your Ovacome pic is of Dumbo (re Bonnie's elephant analogy)...! x

  • I love elephants, I have dumbo tattooed on my shoulder and goodness knows how many elephant ornaments and soft toy ones too 🐘.

  • Hi there, sorry to hear about your panic attacks. I was suffering through the night with them & have found antidepressants helpful. We are all different maybe tables are not the answer for everyone & counselling might suit you better. Please don't suffer in silence get some professional advice as soon as possible. The advice from Bonnie & Caroline is excellent. Take care Cindyxx

  • Hi love,

    Agree with the ladies,councelling,mindfulness or support groups is the way to go.

    If it helps, I was diagnosed 1c too,had panic attacks,I was always very capable and independent and had to find a way to cope.

    I had a radical hysterectomy followed by 6 months chemo carbo/taxol and have been cancer free for over 2 years,that may give you the strength to re group,grit your teeth and get on,with help.

    It is your life and you have so much more to live,I am just waiting for my new grandson to be born next week and love my life with my first one,my little mate.

    I do up buy to let's,go abroad and live life,we call it our new normal,you will be fine,get out in the fresh air,do new things,you will have bad days,we all do,but it's perfectly normal,

    Lots of love,

    Carole xxx

  • Thankyou carole and everyone else , I'm usually such a positive, half full kind of girl and most of the time I'm fine , its just now and again with no warning !!! yes we are planning on travel more and walks in the countryside with the pup are defiantly helping xxxxx

  • Cancer does strange things,it messes with our heads,but, don't beat yourself up over it,we have all been there and we are all here for you,

    You are moving in the right direction,

    Carole xx

  • I know and already I'm relying on you guys and this forum its amazing xx so comforting to be in a group with people that really do understand, looking forward to helping others with my experience and my story too xx

  • HI Lisald, Great advice as usual from the ladies, Like yourself I'm normally a very confrdeta person, I left home at 16 and looked after myself till i married worked all my life till the week before I went in for surgery, Then I started to have panic attacks every time I had to go for blood test which was every week, I'm not one for antidepressant my oncologist advised me to try them, so I would take one before going for the test but only before the test, it did help.

    Great news about the scans, try I know it's hard to concentrate on the good results, when Someone asks me how I feel I just say not bad thank you, I find that is enough to for most people unless it my closes family who understand.... best of wishes on your journey ..Lorraine xx

  • I have had panic attacks and know they can be frightening. I took up Thai chi and that helps with breathing. Really feel rested after it. It also helps you to focus on your breathing and cut out any stress.. There is one at Maggie's. Xx

  • lorraine 71

    sorry to hear you're not one for anti-depessants. to each his own...but i, along with so many others, have received sustained benefits after finding and taking the right one(s) as prescribed.

    it is no shame to need assistance with our dreadful circumstances...i know that they have helped me tremendously. just something to consider, and all the best to you!

  • oh dear. that's "depressants". sigh....

  • Hi Lisa the whole thing is such an upheaval and a worry and it's perhaps a normal reaction to the stress but Just wondering could this be menopause related? I went into immediate menopause after surgery due to them taking both my ovaries. I am OC 1c also. No hrt allowed for me. Half way through chemo and now taking an anti depressant to tame the meno symptoms which is starting to help. Xx

  • Yes I was thinking it could be related to the menopause, all Ive had symptoms wise, is feeling hot sometimes , I'm 7 weeks post op and awaiting to see what they say regarding treatment, when was your op? xxx

  • My op was December, diagnosed mid Jan started chemo mid Feb. They say hrt is not suitable for me. I am trying citalopram as per one of the suggested medical alternatives that might help. The hot flushes and night sweats have been very trying and overode the anxiety for me other than a memorable bout of dramatic palpitations but I do feel better in myself now I am on the citalopram. Although the hot flushes and night sweats continue, maybe slightly reduced so far but only a few weeks in and dr has just upped the dose so we will see if it helps.

    Pilates seems to help, started that 12 weeks after the op.

    Good luck x

  • Hi Lisald , i completely relate to you.

    I had never experienced a panic attack in life before recently. I always thought i was more resilient to stress. But a cancer diagnosis is truly traumatic , shocking and conjures up a whirlwind of emotions. Even if you are being positive, you need to take things extra slowly and make sure you're getting enough rest and peaceful thoughts during the day.

    In my case the panic attacks had been going on for a month and then caused my diaphragm and back to become contracted and i had to see an osteopath to help reverse the spasm! It was crazy.

    Don't underestimate how heavily this scary health challenge can weigh down on you and your subconscious.

    I ended up taking two weeks off work and i slept about 10 to 11 hours a day!

    For someone who generally sleeps 6 or 7 hours, this was a lot for me !

    After the rest, everything settled down. All the aches and pains and all panic attacks. Also, the yoga and meditation helped. There is a book which comes with a CD called 'mindfulness for health' , i would recommend it .

    Everytime you have a scary thought, make a point of following up with a reassuring thought. Start training your mind to combat the nerves. Its not easy and im still working on it myself.

    Every time there is a medical appointment, all the panic seems to come back! But im getting better at managing it and the sleep definitely helps :) don't over do things. Spend as much of your time nourishing yourself as you can... not just by diet but through enjoyment and nurturing practices. Go to a spa or nice long walk in the country... things that are relaxing and that clear your head of worries .

    Best wishes , hope its gets better

  • Have you had your thyroid checked. I was having panic attacks and found out it was Graves disease. After getting my thyroid destroyed my panic attacks disappeared. I know many women that have ovarian cancer also have had thyroid problems. Just a thought.

  • My sister has graves disease so thank you ill check on this xxxxx

  • Hi

    I agree with the above where it would be helpful to find some counselling, particularly something like CBT. Also yoga or tai chi and gentle exercise regularly.

    A more immediate thing you can try is learning some breathing techniques. You mentioned in your first post that you felt you couldn't breathe.

    The theory behind this is as follows. Your body is designed to either fight or run away when it is faced with danger (fight or flight). Your body naturally will release adrenaline, increase the heart rate and increase your breathing to ready you for physical action (you'll need more oxygen pumping around your body to go to your muscles). This only becomes a problem in modern life because our stressors don't necessarily require this physical response, but it occurs anyway.

    The issue with breathing occurs because your lungs start to try to intake more air to increase your oxygen, but your body doesn't require it and you end up having too much oxygen in your lungs. This then makes you start to hyperventilate and you think that you can't breathe properly because you're not getting enough oxygen. But the opposite is the case that you have too much oxygen.

    So the solution to this is to learn to slow down your breathing. The first thing that you do is take as long a breath OUT as you can. This will breathe out the excess oxygen that you've got. Then start breathing to a count. Ultimately you would build up to a count of 4484 (count 4 as you breathe in, hold for 4, breathe out for 8, hold for 4). However, it can take time to work up to this ratio of breathing. Initially you should aim for breathing in to a count and making sure you breathe out to a longer count (so count to 3 breathing in and count to 4 breathing out, then increase this ratio as you practice).

    You can practice the breathing exercises for a couple of minutes every day whenever you want to. It will be a lot easier then to use the technique when you need it (if you feel a panic attack coming).

    Also, I should point out that if you have any other difficulties (asthma, lung disease, etc) then this technique may not be right for you and you'd be best speaking to a doctor to check.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for anxiety meds. The fact that you feel this panic is totally normal. Get some help until you discover you don't need it any more v

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