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Colon Cancer/ Chemo/ Increased Anxiety

Leg254
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2014

I had a diagnosis of stage 3 colon cancer last year.I had chemo,2 major surgeries,one was to remove some of my bowel and to reconnect the bowel. Now I'm cancer free,but I think I still have chemo brain,hardly any energy.I'm fatigued all the time.I have generalized anxiety disorder and I know the stress from all of this made my gad worse.I feel like the chemo left me in a constant state of anxiety.I just can't seem to shake it! I just want to feel normal again without all this constant anxiety all the time.I just want to feel good again before i got sick. I just feel so fatigued all the time and have  chemo make generalized anxiety  worse!My family dr has me on Ativan.i wonder how long till I feel normal again! I'm getting so sick of this and it makes me depressed,I see my oncologist next month!  I finished chemo last March,but I still feel like I'm on chemo. Im getting really tired of this! I just want to feel normal again! I got constant anxiety! I feel like the chemo messed up my brain chemicals!

janderson1964's picture
janderson1964
Posts: 1580
Joined: Oct 2011

I am sorry to hear about your issues. I have been done chemo on 3 different occassions. 12 treatments each time. Chemo brain lasted 6 months to a year each time. The fatigue only lasted a few months each time but I am very active in sports which I believe helped combat the fatigue. Your anxiety I don't think is a result of the chemo but rather a mental side effect of having experienced cancer. We all have to live with it some more so than others. I think most or all of us can also agree that you will never fully go back to the way you were before cancer. It changes us mentally physically and emotionally.

devotion10's picture
devotion10
Posts: 642
Joined: Jan 2010

and I am also not the one in my family that had cancer. I did want to send you my best as I understand how your generalized anxiety disorder makes the stress of your cancer diagnosis more challenging in many ways. Chemotherapy is toxic to your system, but it can also save your life. You have had chemo and two major surgeries ... this is a great deal to go through.  Try to be gentle with yourself as you may have your anxiety and fatique for a bit. 

Peace. ~ Cynthia

Leg254
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2014

What does chemo  brain feel like? I have all this anxiety and I have nothing anxious to feel about! I hope my anxiety gets better!

 

 

 

devotion10's picture
devotion10
Posts: 642
Joined: Jan 2010

chemotherapy can have on cognitive function and emotional well-being. This does not happen to everyone I supppose, but frequently enough that it has been documented.

Perhaps the anxiety is deep within you from what you have been through and worries you may have about the cancer returning in the future.  This would be understandable.

Sorry that the link is so long ... you likely will need to copy and paste into your browser. 

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/treatmenttypes/chemotherapy/

understandingchemotherapyaguideforpatientsandfamilies/understanding-chemotherapy-thoughts-emotions-and-chemo

Hoping things get better for you. ~ Cynthia

janderson1964's picture
janderson1964
Posts: 1580
Joined: Oct 2011

Chemo brain for me was short term memory loss having trouble staying focused on a task and some dislexia. Other permenant side effects include nueropathy in my feet and bowel issues. Anxiety comes from fear of recurrence.

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 4248
Joined: Feb 2009

Side effects can leave you miserable.  I've got neuropathy (numbing of hands and feet) and will live with this for the rest of my life.  When you feel depressed because of your side effects you should talk to your doctor as they might be able to help you understand what you are going through.  I'm on Ativan also but only take it before scans and doctor's appointments and some days when I'm just so stressed.  Talk to your doctor.  I'm still dealing with anxiety but it does get better.  You might never feel the normal self again like you used to but you will feel a new normal - something that you can live with.  Wishing the best for you.

Kim

lp1964's picture
lp1964
Posts: 852
Joined: Jun 2013

I'm sorry to here about these hard things you are going through.

I'm not qualified to give you solution, but one suggestion. Ativan is for occasional anxiety anno should not be taken long term.. If you have ongoing generalized anxiet, you should get a different medication you can take in a long run.

All the best,

Laz

devotion10's picture
devotion10
Posts: 642
Joined: Jan 2010

Anyone who would like to know why I feel we shouldn't advise folks what medications they should take can pm me. Smile

Peace. ~ Cynthia

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2230
Joined: Oct 2011

According to my oncologist, it is perfectly safe to take, even over long periods of time.  Many psychiatric patients (including my daughter) also make use of Ativan for lengthy periods of time.  In some cases, these medications are required for a lifetime.  As with all meds, there may be side effects, of course, but if one has a diagnosed anxiety disorder, then they can be life savers.

If your doctor has recommended these meds, now is not the time to try and make a significant change, imo.  And anyway, you didn't ask us about whether or not you should be taking them, so I would hope that we can focus on what you are expressing here...very natural anxiety and stress from what may very well be the most challenging experience you will ever face.

I am almost three years post-chemo, and I would say that it took probably about two years to start to feel somewhat more normal, both physically and emotionally.  I still have some physical challenges, but the emotional fall-out is a bit better.  It's a very slow process.  I just read on another forum that one can expect to spend the same amount of time in recovery that you spend in treatment.  And if you had anxiety issues prior to the cancer, then that anxiety may very well be exacerbated by what you've gone through.  That's only natural.

Hang in there, things will get better with time.  Taking the meds, maybe trying therapy (CBT is what my daughter does, and it really helps), exercise, trying some new hobbies or activities you've always wanted to try, coming here for support and to vent as needed...these are all things that helped me to get through this hard journey...and it's still a work in progress!  Probably we all are, really.

 

Keep us posted on how you're doing!  AA

devotion10's picture
devotion10
Posts: 642
Joined: Jan 2010

Several people have inquired why I pulled my original comments so I thought I would clarify here.

I pulled my comments because I had originally objected to Laz telling the poster who was suffering from anxiety and depression that they should stop taking Ativan. It seems my comments might have been misunderstood. 

To clarify ... I fully support sharing one's personal experience and opinions so folks can then make their own personal decisions in consultation with their doctors.

In this case, I was concerned the poster who was seeking our help for extreme stress and anxiety and shared that they have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder ... would have additional stress and anxiety being told taking Ativan was inappropriate ...

when in fact Ativan is a proven and helpful aid to the quality of life of many, even though like all medications, it can also have side effects when taken long term.

Peace. ~ Cynthia

 

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 4248
Joined: Feb 2009

Sorry to disagree but Ativan has been my be to control sever anxiety for many years.  Personally I've got it but don't take it unless I'm really stressed.  I've tried to take Paxil (which is similar drug), but I'm so allergic to it and I'm the 2 % that has the uncontrollable runs.  Ativan has helped me tremendously.  I've used it for long term and when just finding out my diagnosis but only now take it occasionally.  Any drug can be a bad drug if you use it improperly and that is something that everyone should be aware of.  My Ativan is a life saver at every scan, blood draw, doctor's appointment, dentist, kid's telling me they have an issue they want to talk to me about LOL.  Just use it when you need it, but don't feel bad about using it.

Kim

pete43lost_at_sea's picture
pete43lost_at_sea
Posts: 3915
Joined: Nov 2010

So I learned to meditate and do yoga and qigong. 

Google eft and mercola.  Eft is relaxing. 

If eft does not help seek help undoing chemo damage. 

Start with the gut and then chelate platinum.

All who are folfoxed are platinum poisoned,

Finding a caring clever therapist always a challenge to rebuild health

After chemo and surgery.  

It's good recurrence prevention as well.

 

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2230
Joined: Oct 2011

just fyi for our OP.  Although it is true that FOLFOX leaves residual problems.  Things like yoga and meditation are certainly helpful; medications are also designed to be helpful, and can be a very useful part of the cancer patient's tool kit.

Coloncancerblows's picture
Coloncancerblows
Posts: 296
Joined: Feb 2013

I'm so sorry you feel this way.  I finished my chemo in July and have chemo brain but I think it's mostly forgetting things.  Except for the neurapathy in my fingers and toes, I feel almost normal again.  I'm doing everything I did before my cancer life.  I would definitely talk to your doctor about this.  Hoping you feel better soon.

Leg254
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2014

I'm going for a stress reduction class starting Msrch 18.Its stress reduction for life challenging  illness.Its for 8 weeks, I take Ativsn to help me sleep.I got increased anxiety and depression prior to my illness.Thanks so much for your support.It means a lot!

devotion10's picture
devotion10
Posts: 642
Joined: Jan 2010

to take a stress reduction class.  Is this offered by your hospital?  That is wonderful that you are being proactive.  Sometimes anxiety and depression can just stop one in their tracks, but you are getting on top of things before it gets to that point.  That is very positive.  My husband took Ativan for years for sleep and also anxiety during the day.  It can be very helpful.  

Keep coming back to the forum and let us know how you are doing.  You will find very supportive people here with a wide range of experiences ... and we are open 24/7. Smile

Peace. ~ Cynthia

thxmiker's picture
thxmiker
Posts: 1220
Joined: Oct 2010

Chemo changes our lives.   Whether the Oncologists believe it or not, chemo brain is an issue after having chemo.  I do not think as fast as I used to.   I can solve problems, but I am not as quick witted.  I am more emotional. For better or worse, this is the new me.  I have accepted change, and the old me is not going to be there. 

 

I have grown more compassionate.  I have become a little more soft hearted. I have become a little more accepting.   Change has happened, and I am embracing the change.  Do not fight the changes!   They have happened, the ship(s) have sailed, the hair has thinned, our skin has thinned, our lives have changed.    I have been scared to death, faced my mortality. Does this make me weak, no, it just made me stronger  Wear the battles with cancer as a warrior!  Let the inner Billie stand out.  (Stolen from Craig.)  What is wrong with a warrior showing their feathers!!!!

 

Keep up the good fight!   Remember that you have a lot of support.   Remember change is not a bad thing, just a reality.  We all change, we all grow, we can survive!   Cancer is a moment in our lives, not the definition of whom we are.

 

Best Always!   mike

Leg254
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2014

The stress reduction class will be like cbt and it's being offered throgh a mind body heath center and  its through wellspan org and there all affiliated together.

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2230
Joined: Oct 2011

It's such a practical approach to dealing with life's problems, and from what I've seen with my kid, it can be esp useful for anxiety.  I'm glad you're taking the class...I'm thinking it will be very helpful.

I should take one myself, come to think of it. Laughing

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4667
Joined: May 2005

We all respond differently to everything in life, cancer is no exception. For me, cancer has given me a series of new normals. My suggestion is to try find a good therapist that you can speak with to help you get through this.

As far as meds go I've used (and still use) Xanax for anxiety. It takes the edge off of things for me. There are many options out there, it's just a matter of finding the right one for you.

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