Charlotte and Kellie reflect on the success of season 1 of the podcast and share the topics and themes that they will be exploring through Charlotte’s clinical experience in season 2.
They discuss what unlimited means and unpack and tackle the things we often don’t want to speak about due to avoidance and protection, but these conversations often allow us to confront our fears and more importantly, make us feel empowered.
This podcast was recorded in February 2023
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Upfront About Breast Cancer is a production of Breast Cancer Network Australia. Our theme music is by the late Tara Simmons and this episode is proudly brought to you by Sussan.
Ad [00:00:08] This podcast is proudly brought to you by Breast Cancer Network Australia. Looking for practical information to help you make decisions about your diagnosis, whether DCIS, early or metastatic breast cancer. BCNA’s My Journey features articles, webcasts, videos and podcasts about breast cancer during treatment and beyond to help you, your friends and family as you progress through your journey. It also features a symptom tracker to help you manage the changing symptoms you may encounter during your own breast cancer experience. My Journey. Download the app or sign up online at myjourney.org.au. Welcome to Upfront About Breast cancer - What You Don't Know Until You Do: Unlimited with Dr. Charlotte Tottman.
Kellie [00:01:04] Welcome to Upfront About Breast Cancer. What You Don't Know Until You Do: Unlimited with Clinical Psychologist Dr. Charlotte Tottman. I'm Kelly Curtain and Charlotte it's great to be back.
Charlotte [00:01:18] It's so great to be back.
Kellie [00:01:20] This is our second series on the back of What You Don't Know Until You Do the original. Take me through how you are now.
Charlotte [00:01:30] I'm good. I'm probably pretty good. I was reflecting on this because I thought we might touch on how I am and I think the thing I notice most of all is I'm perpetually tired and that's something that I've kind of had to come to grips with in the last 12 months, particularly. I think one day a few months ago I thought, I wonder if I'm ever going to not feel like this and then part of my brain went, Oh, well, maybe this is actually it. Maybe this is how it is now for the rest of my life. And that sounds a bit, it sounds grim, but actually helped because I kind of went, okay, well, if this is how I'm going to feel for the rest of my life, then maybe I can just sort of lean into it and make room for that. I'm still exercising every day and that really helps everything. And I'm in the grip of a gardening obsession.
Kellie [00:02:15] Sounds fun. For those who haven't listened to the first series, Dr. Charlotte Tottman, who is a clinical psychologist that specialises in cancer distress, was diagnosed with breast cancer herself, which makes her perspective just next level because Charlotte has been there. The first series was very much about her personal experience and what she thought she knew as a clinical psychologist and it turns out she did, but she sort of didn't, which is how we got to the title. That first series, it was your first foray into sharing your personal experience. The downloads have been incredible. Were you expecting that?
Charlotte [00:02:59] No, not at all. I don't really know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn't what it turned out to be. Yeah. In the first year we had more than 50,000 downloads, which I still can't really wrap my head around and I think I just feel incredibly proud of what we did. I still, you know, regularly get feedback. I know BCNA gets regular positive feedback. I don't think we've had anything other than positive feedback. And I do feel like we've done a really good thing in being able to share the reality of what it's like going through a breast cancer experience and do something that means that people anywhere in kind of any circumstances can get that resource for nothing, which is which is really cool, particularly in a world that we inhabit now, where getting access to psychology services is just so hard.
Kellie [00:03:46] Well, it's also really great to have you in front of me because our first series was done remotely during COVID. So, tell me how this series is going to be a little bit different. It's titled Unlimited. Why is that?
Charlotte [00:04:00] I think mainly just to reflect the fact that the first series was limited. It was limited to sharing things that I had experienced as well as my interpretation and reflections on what that's like for other people in similar situations that I see in my clinical work. This series is, I think, unlimited in the sense that it's not just about things that I specifically have been through. It's a bit more from my clinical perspective. I work full time as a clinical psychologist who specialises in cancer related distress and I see about 40 clients a week, so across a year that's about 2000 sessions. So that's a lot of cancer and we do of course cover things that I haven't experienced. Things like living with metastatic disease, things like confronting mortality, and I wanted to be able to go to those places with people. And I guess I feel like maybe we've earned our bona fides. We've got people now who are prepared to listen to what we've got to say, so I figured it was a good time to go broader.
Kellie [00:05:06] And just on that, we do go to some of those places that people are going to find a little bit challenging to listen to perhaps. Things like you said, living with metastatic and you know, the elephant in the room, the inevitable death and dying. And we invite everyone to have a listen, at least.
Charlotte [00:05:27] Yes. They stick with us. The very common experience as a human is to stay away from things that make us feel uncomfortable and it would be really easy to just, you know, not hit the play button on those episodes. And I get it, absolutely, I get that. I’ve certainly engaged in avoidance, but I think that we can do this together and we can do it in a way that demystifies and takes some of the fear out of it. And if you feel like you need to do it in little bits, that's okay, because you can listen to it in little bits. You've got control, you know, you can decide when and how you listen to it or if you want to go back and listen to it again. But yeah, I think this stuff is really important and I hope that people will trust us to hold them in that uncomfortable space safely.
Kellie [00:06:14] And unlike the first series, which was best listened to sequentially, this is a little bit different, isn't it?
Charlotte [00:06:20] Yeah, it is. There are a whole range of subjects and there is not a particular order. I think with the first series we kind of took it through the sequential experience from me being diagnosed and through a lot of the experiences that sort of in the order that I experienced them. This is not like that, so if you want to kind of pick and choose, jump around or listen to it one through ten, it really will be fine in any way, in any order.
Kellie [00:06:45] And as we say at the end of every episode that it's not intended to replace medical advice. You are sharing your experience, so tell us how what's the difference?
Charlotte [00:06:55] When I work with people one on one in session in therapy, it's all about them. It's not about me and it's very individual and it takes the very specific detail of their particular cancer diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, experience into account. This is much more, if you like, general in nature, and it's reflecting, if you like, the collective of my clinical experience. So it's not about any one individual and it shouldn't be interpreted as that. So, you know, take away what you can from it and if you feel like it's bringing up things that you think might need to be addressed, then definitely get in touch with your GP, Get on a waiting list to talk to somebody like me as soon as you can.
Kellie [00:07:35] Well, I think we should do this. We'd like to thank everybody for the amazing positive feedback.
Charlotte [00:07:40] We really would.
Kellie [00:07:41] We’re back and we're thrilled to be back with the wonderful and very talented and experienced Jane Neild, our producer. So let's go!
Charlotte [00:07:49] Let's go.
Ad [00:07:52] BCNA’s Online Network is a friendly space where people affected by breast cancer connect and share their experiences in a safe online community of support and understanding. Read posts, write your own, ask a question, start a discussion and support others. You're always connected, which means you're never alone as our Online Network is available for you at every stage of your breast cancer journey, as well as your family partner and friends. For more information, visit bcna.org.au/online network. Coming up on episode one of Upfront About Breast Cancer – What You Don't Know Until You Do: Unlimited with Dr. Charlotte Tottman. A mixed dozen: Anxiety in a cancer context.
Charlotte [00:08:37] There are grounding techniques and things to do in the moment, like breathing in meditation that can bring you off the boil, but getting to know your anxiety and getting to know what your triggers are is really important because then you start to feel a bit more like you're in the driver's seat rather than the anxiety being in the driver's seat and scaring the crap out of you when it feels like. And learning to sit in the discomfort. We are always in search of less discomfort, but being able to kind of acknowledge that, Ok, I’m having an anxiety moment. All anxiety is temporary, all anxiety is temporary. It will pass. And if we fight in flight, if we flee, we often actually exacerbate the anxiety. Whereas if we just almost settle into it, ride the wave, understand that it will dissipate with time and usually not as much time as we think. That can be a really powerful management tool, because once you start to understand that it doesn't have the better of you, then you're not likely to get anxious about your anxiety.
Ad [00:09:44] This podcast is proudly brought to you by Sussan. Our theme music is by the late Tara Simmons. Breast Cancer Network Australia acknowledges the traditional owners of the land and we pay our respects to the elders past, present and emerging. This episode is produced on Wurundjeri land of the Kulin Nation.