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Feeling blue

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

Hi everyone, I had my 2yr anniversary of my diagnosis of breast ca. in April and had an ovarian cancer scare a couple weeks ago(turned out ok though). I notice though that I have anxiety and a bit of depression ever since. I actually wake up in the morning with that nervous feeling in my stomach. I previously had these same feelings the year after my diagnosis but then I started to mellow out and feel better. I think the scare I just had has kind of put me back into that state of being afraid and depressed that accompanies a diagnosis. What if I have more cancer scares in the future? I worry that if I do they will cause emotional setbacks just as I am currently having. I also think /worry about death a lot. That is something I never thought about before my cancer. Life is going by so fast---aging really concerns me now too because it reminds me of getting closer to death. Is there anyone out there besides me who has these thoughts/concerns? Anyone have strategies to share that have helped with anxiety and depression? Thak you.

TereB
Posts: 288
Joined: May 2003

I think your feelings are very normal for a cancer survivor. We all get scared, worry about the cancer coming back, about dying, etc. I went thru similar things some years back. I had psychotherapy and it really helped me very much because I was very, very depressed on top of everything else. These days I worry for about a week when I have to go for follow-ups, that's the time between tests and when I see my oncologist. Once I see the oncologist I put the whole thing out of my mind.

Many oncology or radiation depts. in hospitals have social workers who have experience treating cancer patients. A support group could help too.

Try to relax and not worry, easier said than done, I know. Take one day at a time and try to enjoy life. See the positive side; humor helps a lot too. The thing is that what works good for someone, might be different for someone else. I recommend therapy, doesn't have to be for a long time, because it really helped me come out of depression and I learned to calm myself and actually enjoy life.

It is ok to be depressed for a little way, just don't stay there.

All the best

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

Thank you for the good advice. I have a physical scheduled with my doctor soon and I plan on bringing up my anxiety and depression then. Perhaps a few sessions with a counselor or phychologist would be helpful. Eileen

zahalene's picture
zahalene
Posts: 624
Joined: Nov 2005

Confronting our mortality (thinking about our own death) is a part of 'growing up'. The thing is, most people get to go through that process at their own pace and in a time frame of choice. When we are told we have cancer (for instance), it's like....WHAMO. No adjustment time, no gradual acceptance, just "I'm gonna WHAT???". Not that cancer is an automatic death sentence by any means (22 year survivor here), but in spite of all the medical advances made in the field during our lifetime, some people do still die of cancer. And some get hit by mack trucks.
I think one of the most valuable lessons I have learned over the last 22 years is the wisdom in that old cliche...'It's not how you die that counts, but how you live'.
It is such a shame to allow death to encroach upon our lives. But it is human. So, I would encourage anyone to get whatever help needed to get this particular 'growth spurt' out of the way and get on with life. Whether it is therapy, religious counseling, or whatever works. Just do the thing and move on.

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

Hi Zah, Thanks for the post. You are right, my fear of death is encroaching on my life. I wish I could just "do it" and move on as you say, but it does not seem that easy for me.

TereB
Posts: 288
Joined: May 2003

Sometimes we have fears, depression, etc. and even though we do not want them, it is not as simple as saying, I am going to move on. Those are the times when we should seek help.

Check this short movie about cancer survivors: www.thesurvivormovie.com

Check this website for cancer survivors, they have a weekly newsletter, free, and it has good ideas/advise because the authors are cancer survivors. They even have a meditation room: www.TheCancerCrusade.com

If you decide to get some help, check these places:
Cancer Care, a non-profit org., offers free support and counseling for cancer patients by oncology social workers. They have face-to-face counseling and counceling on the phone. Support groups on the phone are available too and are moderated by an oncology social worker. Call 800-813-HOPE or check their website www.cancercare.org

Gilda's Club - www.gildasclub.org - they offer free social and emotional support.

Live Strong - www.livestrong.org - offers one-on-one support.

If you decide to have therapy, if you do not like the therapist, look for another one. Don't give up.

All the best,
Tere

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

Tere, Thank you very much for the information. I plan to check out the websites you listed. Eileen

slickwilly's picture
slickwilly
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

Hi Eileen. Five years ago I was 48 years old and felt like I was 20. I had raced snowmobiles for 15 years at the professional level and worked in a State Prison with the worst of the worst prisoners. Camping out in -20 was an adventure. My 3 daughters were a harder challenge ha ha. But they turned out great! Then I was diagnosed with lymphoma in my face. Not in my lymph system where is should of been. Chop+Rituxin and 25 Radiation treatments put the cancer into remission. But the mental and physical damage was done by then. Since 2004 I have had 3 masses detected on film and it took a month each time to clear me. And all the anxiety you talk about comes to the surface. Night sweats or a new bump on my body just add more stress to the mix. To deal with my 7 physical problems I put each one into a seperate box in my brain. At least that is the way I think of it. I don't think of all of them at once because its too much to handle and puts me into a depression that is hard to climb out of. I stay around happy understanding people and don't waste my time with those that ask how your doing and turn away before you can answer. As limited as I am by physical problems I still try hard to help others. When I am busy helping others I forget about my own problems and the anxiety takes a backseat. Too much time alone leaves too much time to think. I love being around people. Young people with lots of promise and a bright future make me happy. On Thinking about death. Two long time friends of mine had cancer when I was fighting mine. One with prostate cancer and one with brain cancer. They both lost their fights but never gave up. Each day I have is a day they didn't have and I never forget that. Each day that I can have with my daughters is a blessing. They are all out of school now and that is what I asked God for when I had cancer. Just allow me to see my daughters graduate and become young women. And one just walked in the door with an Elephant Ear from the county fair for her me. Right now life does not get much better and I have been blessed. One day like this makes up for lots of bad days. Slickwilly

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

Hi Slickwilly, Thank you so much for sharing your story, it is very inspiring. I envy your wisdom and positive attitude. You are right, there are brave soles that have lost their battles with cancer and I ahould be grateful for the health that I have and each day. Intellectually I know this but somehow emotionally it is difficult to control. You have given me plenty to think about though. I will try to keep reminding myself of how fortunate I am to be a survivor and to stop and try to make the most of every day. It goes by so fast. God bless and thank you. Eileen

slickwilly's picture
slickwilly
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

Eileen. As cancer survivors we all get pretty sick of the phrase "forget about it and move on". When something has tried to take your life its pretty hard to do. And as much as our families try to understand all the issues its just not possible. The emotional and physical problems along with side effects from treatment are something only a cancer survivor understands. So the frustration builds inside us and the anxiety leads to depression. And then its a hard hole to climb out of. I don't think leaving cancer behind is possible so we learn to survive the rough times. I recently spent a night at a lighthouse on the lake Superior shoreline. At midnight I took a walk to the shore and started talking to the only couple awake within miles. It turned out to be a nurse and her husband who had survived cancer. I think I could land on the moon and an alien would come up who has had cancer. Sometimes I think God is trying to reel me back in to remind me to be the best person I can be. Anyway here is my e-mail address because I think you might like to talk more and I am a good listener. I do not judge people because that is up to a higher power than me. And I have a ton of goofy stories that might make you laugh. Slickwilly007@msn.com

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

Hi Willy, Thank you so much for your post and for understanding!! You really described how I am feeling to the letter. I think I am starting to bottle up my feelings and probably am feeling frustration and depression because of it. Its been 2 years and friends and family are probably tired of hearing about cancer. So I don't mention it or at least try not too. I don't want people to think of me as a downer to be around. I will definitely e-mail you and thank you for being so understanding:o) Eil

lolojldunn
Posts: 37
Joined: Apr 2008

Hi Eileen,
Don't know that I can give you a great deal more than the other "Survivors" have already given you. I think it's quite obvious that we all deal with our mortality in different ways. Speaking from my own experience, when I was told that I had cancer, I immediately begin to mentally prepare for my demise. I too was very fortunate to be surrounded by young people that are full of life and love. They are very positive and upbeat and it was most helpful for me. I try to avoid those people that have never had a good day in their respective lives. I learned not to take myslef so seriously. Nobody else does...I learned to laugh harder and longer. I learned to find humor where ever I can. I learned to love deeper. I learned to live life to the fullest. Every day is a gift. I honestly appreciate each and every day that I'm given. Somebody already said it but I repeat, "it's not about how one dies, it's about how one lived". We want to live in the sunshine. Cancer can teach you how to dance in the rain. Wishing you health and inner peace. May God bless you.
Jim

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

Thank you Jim, I like what you said about dancing in the rain. Even a rainy day can be cozy and relaxing. Especially when cuddled up with a comforter and my cats:o) Eil

terato's picture
terato
Posts: 384
Joined: Apr 2002

My anxiety was so intense, that I would become nauseous when approaching the off-ramp on the way to my treatment center, even after I concluded my treatment protocol! I don't remember when I wasn't at least a little depressed. However, I did find that conversing with others about cancer, about anything really, helped pull my thoughts away from my fears. I also found that by writing "letters to the editor" and other things, I could move my focus away from my anxiety and on to something else. It was also helpful to get involved with issues affecting cancer, to become "empowered" and on the offensive. Health-care is a major issue in this political campaign and could probably use the testimony of those who have "been there". All of these powerful diversions have become easier since the advent of the internet.

I think the main thing here is to be good to yourself and not expect too much. We often become our own worst enemies when we expect too much too soon. There is a time to laugh and a time to cry, and sometimes the crying part needs to be much much longer.

Love and Courage!

Rick

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

Thank you Rick for sharing. Like you, I too had anticipatory nausea during treatment. As soon as the cancer center automatic doors swooshed open and I smelled the hospital smell, I became nauseaus. Its been 1 and 1/2 years since finishing treatment, and I still get nausea whenever I am in a hospital/doctors office etc. that has that familiar, "sweet, chemically" smell. Thank you for the encouragement, and for making me feel a little less worried about crying so much. Take care, Eil

slickwilly's picture
slickwilly
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

I hope your having a better day. I can say I envy you. Being able to curl up with your cats and cry must be great. I don't have that option but its a private story I can't talk about here. But I know it would be a great stress reliever. We all keep too much inside. Its funny how we develope the "I am ok" response. People ask how we are doing but don't wait for an answer. Or we get tired of telling people our problems that really don't care anyway. So "I am ok" gets us by. Even our doctors can't sort all our problems out. Over 5 years I had 25 doctors at 4 hospitals work on me. Now that is depressing. I hate needles, MRI's, cat scans, pet scans, bone scans and contrast. I liked surgery because I slept real good for a change. On the funny side of things I saw a Social Security Judge. They had sent my films out to another hospital and different doctors. The judge asked about my torn knee legiment. I said that must be why my knee hurts! He asked about my ruptured lower disc. I told him that must be why my lower back hurts! He said I have a brain mass. I finally stopped him and said "those are the least of my problems your honor". He disabled me from the bench. Crap, I can't even go to a judge and he is finding more stuff wrong with me than I thought I had. If I saw the supreme court they would proubly pronounce me dead. Well I have not given up yet. I just won't see anymore doctors or judges. slickwilly

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