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Personality changes

moglock
Posts: 11
Joined: Jan 2002

I underwent surgery to remove squamous cell carcinoma of the neck in July 2001, followed by six weeks of radiation treatment in August/September. Physically, I feel I am adjusting fairly well, but my family is noticing "personality changes."

I don't see it, but I am told that I never smile, am difficult to deal with, have a very negative attitude and don't talk to people, especially my family, like I used to.

Any similar experiences?

Any suggestions?

crtsang
Posts: 105
Joined: Nov 2000

When I was diagnosed with cancer, and while I was going through treatment and recovery, I turned into a real control freak, though my husband never really complained. (I'm surprised I never told him how to breathe; I told him how to do just about everything else, including how to give me a hug!) That behavior finally went away as I came to terms with the helplessness that the cancer made me feel/realize.
Is your family critical? Or are they just worried that you aren't dealing with the emotional fallout as well as they'd like? You might consider finding some support groups--maybe one for yourself, as a survivor, and another for your family. I was surprised to find how much it helped me to talk with other survivors about my feelings of anger and helplessness and so on.
If your family intends to be supportive, maybe you can all focus on your feelings and struggles, rather than on your behavior. If they're being critical, I don't think I'd want to share my feelings with them either! It just sounds to me as if someone--your family, you, or all of you--isn't admitting to him/herself what a shattering experience cancer can be.
Recovery, physical and otherwise, is really, really difficult. We all do the best we can. It's also really difficult for those around us. At a minimum, try to give yourselves all a bit more slack, and don't expect everything and everyone to go on as if nothing had happened.
(Personally, I hate that stuff about "negative attitudes". It's not easy to maintain a "positive attitude" all the time, and I don't understand why we have to. If your recovery from neck radiation is anything like my mother's was, no wonder you come across with a negative attitude, assuming that in fact you do.)
Carol

moglock
Posts: 11
Joined: Jan 2002

Carol,

Thanks for the feedback - I think a support group is the way to go.

My family is, generally, not critical. They just think I am not the same person I used to be. My wife says I shut everyone out during the treatments, which I didn't think I did, but the treatments are a very personal thing - how do you share that? Now she feels I have bottled up all my feelings and need to find an outlet to share them. I didn't think I needed that, but lots of people seem to think I should try. So I gusee I will. Logging on here was a first step.

It's time to look for a group. I will keep you posted.

Thanks,

Tom

hege
Posts: 12
Joined: Dec 2001

Tom,
Everyone handles the treatment and recovery differently. Personally, I've surronded myself with family and friends and I never stop talking. May not sound strange but I was almost the complete opposite before the cancer diagnosis. Do what feels right for you, just realize that your family wants to be there for you and they don't know how.
All my best to you,
Jennifer

moglock
Posts: 11
Joined: Jan 2002

Jennifer,

Thanks for the input. Apparently I have changed quite a bit too. Now I don't talk. but I know my family wants to help. I plan to take Carol's suggection and look for a support group, as well as continue to talk with folks like you.

Thanks again.

Tom

crtsang
Posts: 105
Joined: Nov 2000

Tom,

I hope the support group works out for you. If your family is trying to help, as it sounds like they are, you'll all find a way to get through it. It's just sometimes it helps to go outside the family for support, too.
Please do keep me posted. I'll be thinking of you.

Carol

moglock
Posts: 11
Joined: Jan 2002

Carol,

Went to the local office of the Wellness Community this week to attend an introductory meeting. On Monday I meet with the individual counselors to decide about continuing in group, etc.

Sharing my experience with the others at the first meeting, as well as hearing theirs, made me feel good, so I think this is the way to go.

The nurse from my radiation/oncologist's office asked me to talk to one of their patients who is having a difficult time adjusting to the physical effects of radiation. I spoke to him at length and shared my experience/knowledge. I think I talked him into trying a drug that worked for me, but just talking with him I could tell he was feeling better about his situation - this was very fulfilling for me.

One of the things I think I see coming from talking to Don and going to group is the positive impact helping others will have on my outlook.

My family thinks I don't talk to them much anymore, but I found myself wanting to talk to them about this & telling them how it made me feel. Looks like I am heading in the right direction.

Thaks for your concerns and thoughts.

Tom

crtsang
Posts: 105
Joined: Nov 2000

I'm so glad to hear that it's been helpful for you! I hope it continues to be. It was a big help to me, especially in readjusting to regular life (in which cancer did not dictate my whole life).
Please go on keeping us updated every now and then.
Carol

moglock
Posts: 11
Joined: Jan 2002

Went to first group session last night - it really helped. The facilitator said first timers don't usually talk as much as I did, so I guess I needed it. Plan to continue.

Tom

dpomroy's picture
dpomroy
Posts: 137
Joined: Dec 2000

I have gone through some "personality" changes since my cancer journey began. Some of them were temporary (dealing with things the best way I could manage things) and others were permanent. Having cancer gave me a unique opportunity to do a major housecleaning of absolutely every aspect of my life. I only had a limited amount of time and energy, and I really neede to only put the things there that were most important to me. I found that I went from what my family would've called a patient person to an impatient one. But maybe I was TOO patient before, not saying no often enough, getting bogged down and feeling drained by one way relationships, etc. My family expected me to return to "normal" (their definition of normal for me), but I've never lived through something major without having had it affect me in some profound way...becoming a parent, getting divorced, a friend's death...why on Earth wouldn't this cancer have also affected me? If you are OK with who you are becoming that is what is truly important.

stage4
Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 2002

I also have personality changes I have anger spells and don't want people around me and have negative feelings about mortality. I just hate when people say don't cry or feel down. unless you can feel what i'm feeling don't say that--just support.but I know how you feel and what your going though

nutt
Posts: 140
Joined: Sep 2001

You bet. Prostate Cancer. I have a much different view or prespective of life, what it means and etc... My family (I assume yours too) would just like the cancer to have gone away -- they are frightened too but, I have taken a different view of my life and it is noticable by them as well me. I try to manage the new changes but make sure I tell everyone I meet about pre-screening for prostrate, breast and etc...
You may also have a new view of life. How we control this and what we see as our new lot in life may be negative (I pray not) because you and I have an opportunity to share and educate family, friends and strangers.
Consuling is availabe if there is a problem but suggest you read the below thatI keep near me everyday.
"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. Thats why it is called the PRESENT! We think this is special.... live and savor every moment. LIFE IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL." author unknown
good luck and hang in there.
Joe

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