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Struggling with Survivorship

charmedlife213's picture
charmedlife213
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2010

I'm new here and joined because I'm struggling with being a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed at 19 and have been in remission for a number of years. I'm now 27 and had a baby last year. It seems like since he's been born I've been having anxiety attacks. I have a series of negative thoughts that run through my head daily...will my cancer come back, will I die and leave my son without a mother, am I sick now...the thoughts are so bad that I have started having physical pains that are so near the pains that I felt before I was diagnosed that I've been in to see my oncologist and internist to be sure that I'm not sick. I feel like I'm crazy and making these things appear due to my negative thoughts. Has anyone else felt this way? Does anyone have any coping strategies that work for them?

mtbikernate
Posts: 31
Joined: Feb 2010

sounds like a psychologist might be your best course of action here.

Chemo_Princess's picture
Chemo_Princess
Posts: 105
Joined: Aug 2009

I am 31 with ovarian cancer. My doctor put me on an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication after diagnosis. I highly recommend you give this a try so you can enjoy that beautiful baby of yours!! Blessings to you~Natalie

charmedlife213's picture
charmedlife213
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2010

I think that the aftermath of cancer is something that I never really thought about. I didn't have any idea that I would have the feelings that I do now. I always thought that cancer was something that happened to me and then I got better, but it lasts a lifetime. I appreciate your advice and have already talked to my doctor about some coping strategies. He recommended yoga, exercise, therapy, and journaling. Thanks for your thoughts!

mtbikernate
Posts: 31
Joined: Feb 2010

well it's true. sometimes you just don't know how you'll handle an issue like this until you go through it. I'll tell you, my busy plate lately has kept my mind from dwelling on the fact that exactly 1yr ago I was in a coma fighting for my life. I've got a combination of school, home improvements, exercise, and hobbies that are keeping me busier than I've been in years. it does wonders for the mind.

charmedlife213's picture
charmedlife213
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2010

I congratulate you on your attitude! I truly believe that a positive mental attitude is a large part of the battle. You are so brave to take on all that you are.

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3015
Joined: May 2009

I would give antidepressants a try too. They just make you calm, and your day go by without much stress.

Vulgarism's picture
Vulgarism
Posts: 47
Joined: Dec 2009

I second the comment of speaking to a doctor to sort out these problems, or another cancer patient with a young child. Speech seems to be most cathartic to those that need relief.

EstherMSKCC
Posts: 20
Joined: Feb 2010

Dear Charmedlife,

I'm sorry to hear that you are having a hard time coping with life beyond cancer. As an employee of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NY, I am aware of a number of resources available to help people experiencing survivorship issues. The National Cancer Insitute is a good place to start - here is a link to several articles about survivorship that you may find useful: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/survivorship

Memorial Sloan-Kettering's site also has a number of articles you might be interested in reading, including one on developing effective coping strategies: http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/92631.cfm

We also have an electronic newsletter for survivors written by survivors called "Bridges", which you might be interested in reading/subscribing to. The newsletter offers a forum where patients and their families can share stories of inspiration and hope, as well as the challenges that accompany the cancer survivor's journey. Here's the link: http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/86252.cfm

I hope this information is helpful and wish you the best of luck in getting the support you need. -Esther

charmedlife213's picture
charmedlife213
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2010

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I really appreciate everyone's helpful advice. I'm definately going to take a look at those articles. I've also discovered a group for survivors dealing with my same issues here in my town. So hopefully that helps too. Thank you all for your support!

m-star's picture
m-star
Posts: 444
Joined: Apr 2010

I WAS DIAGNOSED with Hodgkins lymphoma in 1990 aged 17.
I am now 36.
For years i suffered anxiety attacks,convinced my cancer would return and kill me.

These attacks worsened after the birth of my daughter in 1997. People though i was OTT by feeling like this! I was sooooo scared i was going to die, and like you, leave my child without a mum! Its the most terrifying thing ever. When Emily was about 5,i waqs referred to a psychologist at the oncolgy dept of my hospital.She dealt with patients. I told her my fears and cried uncontrollably. She offered me hypnotherapy and some relaxation techniques on a tape.

I had about 3 or 4 goes with the hypnosis.I was very sceptical! The only types of hypnosis i'd seen were on tv where ppl were made to bark like dogs!!!

Anyway,it more just taked you to a part of your brain that isn't really used.The association with my fears were kind of 'logged into' that part of my brain so when the anxiety started to hit,this part of the brain kicks in to calm the situation down.Now whether it was the power of suggestion?mind over matter? who cares cus it worked for me!

I do still egt anxious from time to time but its getting more rare.I also found as Emily gets older,the fears are not so bad.My big fear was she would forget me.forget who her mum is,but the older she gets,the less likely she is to forget who i am.

I would recommend a psychologist before antidepressants. They give you a false positive. The problem is still there-you'll just be papering over it temporarily.You need to get to the root of the fear.The cause of it and take it from there.
You'll be amazed how much talking to a proffesional will help you put things into perspective.But you must be 100% honest with any questions they ask you.Don't hold back.

There's no shame in seeing a psychologist! They're different to a psychiatrist!

charmedlife213's picture
charmedlife213
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2010

I'm finding that a lot of the feelings that I've been having are also tied to my cousin. She had Hodgkins when she was teenager and has recently been diagnosed with two separate forms of cancer at the age of 50. It's so unfair that some people can go their entire lives (thank God) without being touched by cancer and others are doomed to have it more than once. I fear being diagnosed again, but I also realize that it's largely out of my control.

I have recently discovered a group that's going to meet next month that deals with this subject. I've been journaling, working out, doing yoga, and talking with loved ones...I have to admit that I'm feeling SO much better. I'm focusin on living my life now and enjoying it.

chrissie1
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2010

I understand exactly where you're coming from. I had cancer at 14, and have dealt with anxiety since the ordeal. I do have to say that time does heal, and as more time goes by that you are cancer-free the better you will feel about your prognosis.

The first few years were hell, I would wake up in the middle of the night crying, and thinking that the pain I had that detected my cancer was back. I think a lot of it was in my mind, but I was feeling pain, just post-surgery pain and nothing to worry about.

Since it has been 8 years since I had cancer, I have gotten a lot better. I don't usually have much anxiety about my cancer recurring. Although recently I've been worried about the delayed effects of all my treatment, so I'm trying as much as I can to prevent anything else from happening to me. I try to eat healthy, exercise, and drink in moderation. I am really into Pilates right now, it's a little different than Yoga and I love it.

Also, just focus on your day. Don't think too much about the future, because that will just overwhelm you. You have a beautiful baby, and you are healthy. Think about all the little things that you're able to do now that you're cancer free!

charmedlife213's picture
charmedlife213
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2010

It does help to know that other people have felt the same way that I do and have come through it. I love your positive outlook and I have been trying to adopt the same outlook on my situation. I'm begining to recognize the anxiety when it comes on. It helps me to deal with it when I know what it is. Thank you for your well wishes!

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