A gush of emotion, tears, even regret is breast cancer's most common side effectwhether you're facing your fears or taking a step toward feeling better.
Upbeat by day
Could things have been worse for Kim Heier? In 2007, the 41-year-old from Simi Valley, Calif., was going through a divorce, raising three kids and trying to get back into the work force. Then came the lump and the diagnosis: DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ).
Yet as Heier watched her 10-year-old son at soccer practice just a few months later, she joked about her impending radiation"We're gonna zap all those buggers right out"and an observer had to wonder if she were some sort of Bionic Woman. How could someone in her situation be this upbeat?
"Oh, I cry every day," she said. "Oh yeah. Every day. I mean, I have an amazing support network of family and friends. I have to get out of bed every day because of the kids. They don't allow me to wallow in misery. But it's usually after everyone's asleep and I'm alone in my room that I just sob for 15 minutes."
Tears after chemo
For Hendy Dayton, 48, of San Francisco, the rush of emotion hit right after her first chemo treatment. "I had a friend come with me, we had lunch," she recalls. "I made it through the whole sessionand then I started crying when it was all over. I kept thinking, 'What have I just done to myself?'"
"You have to go through that"
"Those are low, low times," says Pam Tazioli, 54, of Seattle. Her 2000 diagnosis (DCIS and invasive lobular carcinoma) and lumpectomy were followed by some of her darkest days when she received the news that there was lymph node involvement. "I remember at the time I was at home waiting for the call, and the anesthesia had made me nauseated. I had been throwing up for three days. You're by yourself; my caregiving team had left. You just lie on your bed and cry."
But Tazioli also remembers getting to the other sideand what that took: "You have to go through that if you're gonna get to the part where you're hopeful and productive."
It's definitely not the case with all women, but experience and experts in psychology would agree with Tazioli: Relief usually requires releaseor at least acknowledging to yourself or someone else how awful you feel.