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Post Treatment depression

chynabear's picture
chynabear
Posts: 483
Joined: Jul 2005

Hello. My name is Patricia and I was diagnosed with Stage III (first node was positive) colon cancer 10/5/04 (the day after I turned 27 and was having my colonoscopy).

I insisted on moving my treatment right along because I wanted to be done with this ASAP. I had the colon-resection surgery, or joined the semi-colon's as someone so cutely put it, on the 8th and started chemo the instant they would allow me. Initially, I didn't realize just how sick I am/was and it was easier being optimistic and strong. I approached chemo (5-fu, Oxilaplatin, Leukivorin I'm sure I spelled these wrong) with a kick-butt attitude and for the most part did fine. I thought I could put this whole nonsense behind me once I was able to move with my husband. I thought wrong.

My daughter will turn 2 on July 30. I am so scared that I will not be here for her while she is growing up and I notice that I am having trouble sleeping at night because I am so scared. My husband just thinks that I am being negative and that we will "deal with" anything that happens and that I shouldn't stress myself out over something I don't even know. He's also worried that this way of thinking will in fact bring the cancer back.

I finished chemo in April and have finally scheduled my follow-up with an oncologist for the 19th of July. My CT and PET scans all came out fine back in November. I am just so scared and have such a bad feeling about it. Every time I hear that colon cancer can be defeated when caught early, my heart just skips because what about those of us who weren't caught early? And, how could i have been so sick when I didn't even feel bad?

When does it stop feeling like the other shoe is going to fall?

I finally realized that I need to get help because the life I am fighting so hard to live for won't be worth living if I can't live it without tears and anger and fear.

The worst part is that I have probably had cancer for 5+ years. I went to the doctor three times (once in 2001, then on 8/25/04, then finally 9/2004) before anyone would even validate my fears. Plus, I am totally not the doctor type. I go when I know I can't fix it.

I guess I realized that I need someone to talk to who understands what I am feeling and going through. Thankfully I found this site today. It also helped to see that I am not the only one who became a "chemo-tubby".

Thanks for listening,

Patricia

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi Patricia,
Your story sounds very familiar to me. I went from diagnosis and all through treatment (lasting a total of 8 months) with such strong determination that it puzzled many of my friends and relatives. But, after all the treatment was over, I started to go through a very tough time emotionally. I have subsequently learned that this is not unusual. I went to see a therapist, which was the best thing I could have done. She referred to "post traumatic shock", which I think was kinda true. Learning to live with fear is not easy -- and something I still struggle with. You are not alone!
With all best wishes,
Tara

MJay's picture
MJay
Posts: 132
Joined: Aug 2004

Dear Patricia~

Our stories are so similar. I too went through treatment so strong and for the most part very optimistic. I didn't let my fears show. Everyone everyone everyone commented how strong I was and that my positive attitude got me through.

After 8 months of therapy I finally realize that "strong positive attitude" was really me working on auto pilot. I would do what I had to do to get rid of this horrid disease. Now, the disease is gone (at least no longer detectable) and I have found myself crying, depressed, etc. And let's not forget the fear of recurrence.

I am coming up on my 1 year tests... first colonoscopy with the colostomy, CT, etc. I am soooooo scared. I am finding it hard to keep my chin up and stay on the positive side. I just can't imagine that it would be good news.

My advice is to get to a therapist. Find one that specializes in people with chronic illnesses. I was so fortunate to find mine. Not only am I working through the awful aftermath of cancer but I am working on other issues that have plagued my life. It isn't easy... but neither was cancer... and I know that I am a better person because of it all.

Stay in touch on this site. There are so many good people here and we have all been in your shoes. You are not alone. And you are not crazy!!

MJAy

HowardJ
Posts: 484
Joined: Jan 2005

Hi Patricia,
Welcome to the semi-colons. What you're going through is natural. You're dealing with a lot right now and the emotional side of cancer is sometimes overlooked. I found a very good therapist who specializes in working with cancer patients and she's helped me to cope with it. You may want to look into seeing someone who can help you learn to deal with what you're trying to cope with. There's no shame--I've learned a great deal from it.
Post often if you need to. There are a great bunch of people here willing to listen and offer advice based on their experience.
Howard

CAMaura
Posts: 719
Joined: Feb 2005

Hi Patricia!

Believe me, there is nothing crazy about your thoughts. I echo all of the others before me......What you are feeling is SO normal. (You and I were diagnosed within a month of one another.) I continue to go in and out of the fear you speak about so frankly. I think a mild grade of fear will continue....
I am certainly not a person to be giving suggestions - I am so much the newbie around this disease and the site - but there are a few things which are helping me. These are things which had defined me before cancer, so as I mention them, I think you will know where I am leading.The first has been to put myself back in to athletics - something which helps my general well being and psyche so much; the second has been to undertake a strong dietary regime which I hope will help me keep this dragon at bay. You, of course, will choose things close to your heart.
I guess what I am getting at is that we have do deal with the present and make it the best that we can. I am no Polyanna; I think about cancer A LOT. But I also think about how I have matured through this ordeal. I think about the WONDERFUL people I have come in contact with here on the site and on this new journey. I also have to try to accept this as something that God asked me to endure.....and that I must do my best. The fear will be ever-present and we are all so human....There will be days when we will feel like garbage and wish we could just hit the rewind button. But after a rotten day, we will have a great day.....You will look at your husband or daughter and truly feel like you are on top of the world - inspite of this rotten disease. Do focus on your successes and continue to enjoy them.
And BTW - just getting through chemo is a major success - so congratulate yourself....I was a wreck!!
So, come here to talk about (and sometimes laugh away) your fears and frustrations.

Best wishes.
Cheers,
Maura

HowardJ
Posts: 484
Joined: Jan 2005

Hi Babs,
I thought I was the only one here who had surgery only. Would you mind sharing what stage you had? Great to hear your at 4 years! I'm Stage 2a and had a right hemicolectomy the end of last year (spent New Years in the hospital).
Howard

jana11
Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004

Hey Patricia, I was 32 when diagnosed, with Stage 3 rectal cancer. I was very strong, no one could believe that I continued to do it all. My husband and family couldn't believe it.

While I was on chemo I was seeing a therapist, who is a cancer survivor. She told me to start an antidepressant. She said anyone going through chemo could use an antidepressant. The disease is so difficult to adjust to!

If you are tearful, having trouble sleeping, having trouble concentrating - it could all be NORMAL reactions to chemo, or depression. Adjustment disorder is VERY common. Get a good therapist, helps sooo much, and talk to your doctor about starting an SSRI (antidepressant). I was on Lexapro, which my therapist recommended. I stayed on it for about a year and then came off. I still have sad and overwhelming days, but they are few and far between.

I wish you well. jana

ron50's picture
ron50
Posts: 1290
Joined: Nov 2001

Hi Pat,
Iwas dx stage 3 with six positive nodes ,while I was in treatment everything was ok because I felt I was doing something poitive to defeat cancer ,after that the waiting begins and there is little positive about waiting.
My best suggestion is to throw yourself back into life ,it is not easy but it makes the wait positive . What are we waiting for ? To be told that we are cured ,I was told that at 5 years then again at seven years so trust me It can and does happen so don't waste those poitive thoughts ,put them to work for you in life and one day that will be your two year old grandaughter ,Cheers Ron.

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