Impostor syndrome (no longer)

This morning it occurred to me that what I was feeling was what we call in PhD land, impostor syndrome. This hits most often when you first begin your PhD – the idea that you do not belong, you are a faker in this community. I have struggled with it at various times throughout my PhD.

I was feeling that way this morning. Without a confirmed pathology, I felt like a faker. I felt like I wasn’t really someone with breast cancer. What would happen if it turned out I didn’t have cancer? (frankly, the large lump in my breast was pretty convincing) What if it is just a minor cancer, then am I overreacting? Am I an impostor?

I went out for a bike ride, and I was thinking about this post. The idea of it occurred to me just before I went out.

I got home and hopped in the shower. My phone must have rung while I was in the shower. I had a phone call from the surgeon. The initial pathology is back – it confirms cancer. There isn’t much known yet – only that it is a grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). I am glad that I get results quickly – as soon as they are available – as that allows me to process the new information in small chunks as it arrives. Each new chunk of information allows me to reflect on it to digest it before the next chunk comes in …

  • Becky

One Comment

  • Becky, thanks so much for posting all these thoughts. You have made your experience so vivid and real to me. I think I too would be an academic, approaching an illness from many different perspectives to see which felt valid. It is sort of “a third eye” that I hope will allow you some dispassion and distance from what must be so intense, emotional, frightening, infuriating, and overwhelming. Love to you and Scott.

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