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I'm not sure how to react

Anabel_Lee's picture
Anabel_Lee
Posts: 32
Joined: Mar 2014

I went in for my surgery to remove some growths and pigmented areas on my anal margin on Friday. Just before I was wheeled in to surgery, I had to sign the standard form they give you and at the top in big bold letters, it said "excision of carcinoma" something about seeing it in writing made it real to me. I started to cry and the nurse tried to reassure me and help me feel better. She was helpful but the ativan she gave me was even more helpful ;)

After the surgery, when I was in the recovery room, I could hear the nurse on the phone talking to someone about what room to put me in for the night ( I didn't have anyone that could stay with me for the 24 hrs after so they admitted me for the night) and she said the "C" word two times that I could hear.

The next morning, the surgical resident who was part of my procedure came to say hello and mentioned they'd taken "4 areas of concern"....great! can't just have one area of concern. Have to give me 4.

Since then, I'm just not sure how to react. My emotions are so up and down. I have a great support system of friends (although I wish they'd stop telling me stories about people they've known with cancer, since they all seem to die in those tales) 

When I think about it and get scared, the tears start coming down hard. Then when I get myself together and calm down and do something enjoyable, I wonder if not thinking about it makes me in denial. I'm not sure if I should be "preparing" for something or just go day to day like I normally would (at least until my follow up appt where I find out if clear margins were achieved and if "treatment" is needed.)

I'm talking with a few guys who want to go out with me and I'm not sure if I should. One of them knows what's going on with me and last night he said he's been through this before. I thought he was going to tell me that he had cancer and was now doing well but nooooooo....it was a gf that had it and she passed away. Again, why do they tell me these things?!! :/

I'm just confused and don't know what to do with myself.

It's just such a strange feeling. I don't want to be overwhelmed about it but if I'm not then I think I'm not taking it seriously.

 

Krissy59
Posts: 26
Joined: Oct 2013

Hi Anabel_Lee,

I am so sorry you are overwhelmed with all the different emotions. I completely understand how you feel. I was diagnosed 1 year ago and I still have all the emotions that you talk about. I worry so much and then if I stop worrying, I am afraid that I am in denial! Jus like you said. It is just crazy! Unfortunately, wait is all you can do at this point. And waiting is the hardest part. If you have to have more treatment, it is hard but very doable. There are many people on this site who have been cancer free for many years. I was stage 3 when I was diagnosed and my doctors have reassured me over and over that this cancer is very curable. My oncologist even said that if he had to have cancer but could choose what kind, this would be his choice because it is so treatable. We will all be here for you for additional support. It helps to have others who have been where you are. Please keep us updated.

Sincerely,

Krissy

Lorikat's picture
Lorikat
Posts: 558
Joined: Jul 2011

Hi Anabel...   I agree with the dislike of people telling tales that end in woe.  One lady was regaling everyone with how aweful the tx was for this cancer and how her friend was so sick and didn't know if she'd make it, etc, etc, etc!  I finally asked her to change the subject since most of us were living it and did not need to hear negativity....  She apologized and said she simply didn't think...

 

qv62
Posts: 280
Joined: Nov 2012

I hope you are recovering well from your surgery, when will you have results ? Just want to let you know I understand the tears for sure, I have been dealing with surgeries and procedures from this evil disease for 5 years now, and still get weepy and whimpy on my way in to the OR. I have been wheeled down that hall so many times I have actually lost count Last year alone was 4 trips to the OR, one already this year and one on the calendar for next week unless I opt for treatment, hang in there, this board has been not only a wealth of information but a wonderful source of comfort. Please keep us posted

Anabel_Lee's picture
Anabel_Lee
Posts: 32
Joined: Mar 2014

to hear what you're all saying. Such a mind trip this does to a person. I kind of expected to get cancer at some point since it runs in my family but my relatives were all in their 60's and it was lung and liver. I certainly didn't expect it at 41. HPV was confirmed with me and I wish I'd known what that was before and been tested. 

Then when all those strange things started popping up, I would have been on it right away and not dismissing it as tags and weird blotches.

jcruz
Posts: 231
Joined: Jan 2013

It's been almost 2 years since I got the phone call from my gastro doc with the dreaded news.  I totally fell apart, called some friends for support, and then tried to just turn it  off by going back to watching the television show I'd had on when the doc called.  Everything is so abnormal now that whatever you do, however you respond, however you handle the waiting is totally normal and right for you.

I still get weepy, angry, still shut down like I refuse to acknowledge what has happened to me.  I endured through the treatment and continue to endure through this physical and emotional recovery period.  You will too.

Take care.  Feel free to tell people to shut up with the cancer stories.  Find a supportive friend to go with you.  I had a friend who came and took notes because I was defininitely not thinking clearly or really hearing what the doctors were telling me.

Anabel_Lee's picture
Anabel_Lee
Posts: 32
Joined: Mar 2014

I should tell them to shut up Lol...anytime I hear a sentence start with " I knew someone with cancer" I'll tell them if there isn't a happy ending, I don't want to hear it.

Last night was rough. I woke up at 2am with sharp pain in my surgery area. I'd been feeling discomfort since Friday but not pain like that. I'm not even sure that's normal 3 days after surgery. Then this morning, I had a bm and it hurt. Looked in the bowl and there was blood. I felt so sick to my stomach. I know it's normal to see that after surgery but a panic attack hit. Thought I was going to throw up but I didn't, so I started heading to my bed. On the way to it, my vision went funny and my hearing became muffled and I was right on the verge of passing out.

So much for handling this well.

Has anyone gone in to counselling? Did it help at all?

Lorikat's picture
Lorikat
Posts: 558
Joined: Jul 2011

I had counseling.  Not sure if it helped, or just time passed.  Worth a try...

 

MKW213
Posts: 17
Joined: Apr 2014

Not sure if it helped me, either, but at least I could cry on her shoulder and not my husband's for an hour. But she did explain that the rollercoaster of emotions is completely normal. She compared it to a car's lights and said to "keep the low beams" on" and only look at the immediate future, and not use the "high beams" to look too far forward. If I start the "what if"s", someone will say "low beams" and it really helps. I feel so bad my family has to go through this with me--they have been very supportive, but I HATE to see them worry so. Again, I don't think denial is such a bad thing during the waiting for appointments, etc. It's like a safe place to go for a while and mentally recharge.

Anabel_Lee's picture
Anabel_Lee
Posts: 32
Joined: Mar 2014

You guys are probably right. Might help a bit in certain situations, like giving other people a break from listening to you. Not that they aren't more than willing to but they must feel overwhelmed at times also but probably doesn't make a huge difference.

I like the lowbeams metaphor. Helps to focus on the present moment and not forecast. I think the reason I had my panic attack last night was because I've heard so many stories (as I'm sure all of you have too) about people that seemed so healthy, then one day found out they had cancer and two weeks later (always seems to be two weeks later) they pass away.

Logically, I know the chances of that happening are extremely slim but I think it's still in the back of my head, so anything I feel physically right now, throws me in to that tornado of emotions.

Maybe as MKW stated, denial or at least a lack of attention on it between appts isn't so bad. I don't owe cancer my attention when it isn't necessary.

judyv3
Posts: 66
Joined: Dec 2013

Anabel_Lee,

12 weeks ago I finished treatment for early stage anal cancer.  I was diagnosed back in October and sort of feel like my life has been lived in a fog since then.  So little of this is in your control.  People tend to say stupid things when they don't know what to say.  This board is the place without the stupid things, but it can be scary too.  I had to stop reading for awhile because I was focusing too much on what might happen to me.  I have panic disorder and have had it for years.  I've had some increased anxiety during this ordeal, but all in all I do pretty well (I had my psychiatrist increase my anti-anxiety med, temporarily), haha, which I suppose helps.  

Today I had my first post-treatment PET scan.  I actually fell asleep during the scan.  THAT would not have happened pre-diagnosis.  I just try to focus on the task immediately at hand and I mean that literally.  No more multi-tasking for me!  I need to focus on one thing at a time or it all becomes overwhelming.  I am not consumed with thoughts of death or dying.  I am angry that this happened (out of the blue, routine colonoscopy - no symptoms, no warning) and changed my life forever.  BUT, it could be soooo much worse.  I force myself to take time to count my blessings and try not to worry about what I cannot control.  

I get aggravated when people tell me how strong I am.  I don't feel strong, I feel like I am hanging on by a thread a lot.  BUT I made it through to this day and hopefully my PET scan results will be good.  I do not, however, plan to live my life from scan to scan or checkup to checkup.  I will take control of my life both medically and emotionally and be happy and deal with the reality that is now.

I wish peace for you, face one thing at a time and you WILL be ok.

Judy

Anabel_Lee's picture
Anabel_Lee
Posts: 32
Joined: Mar 2014

I'm familiar with that feeling. I was diagnosed with panic disorder close to 2 years ago. The meds had a bad effect on me so I just did the CBT therapy, which did help. I've actually been handling my situation pretty well until my anxiety attack last night. Before my surgery, I went on a dating frenzy to keep my mind occupied...hahaha

My anxiety is what first brought me to this forum. I had symptoms for 2 years and was hoping to see other people writing about having symptoms for TEN years before diagnosis and having early stage and they're doing great now Lol....

I'm very happy to hear that you're doing well and able to focus on the present. Love that you fell asleep during your scan.

I have a feeling you'll get a good result from it :)

eihtak
Posts: 849
Joined: Oct 2011

Hi, and welcome, you have found us for unfortunate reasons but am glad we are all here for each other. I wish we all had an anxiety button that we could just switch off when it gets hot! (lol)

I didn't have symptoms for ten years but thinking back did for probably over two before being diagnosed with stage3b. My husband was undergoing a bone marrow transplant prior to my diagnosis and any symptoms I was having I just ignored or contributed to other things as I was completely pre-occupied with family issues. That was 3yrs ago and I feel I am healthier today than I was for many years. (Unfortunately I was also treated for a rare, unrelated breast cancer just 1 yr after the anal cancer) I have children and grandkids with normal and sometimes not so normal life issues of their own. So, for the past several years I have had to learn a way to turn off that anxiety button myself!

As is the case in life what works for one may not for another.  I do eat a fairly healthy diet 80% of the time yet allow myself to "feed my mind with thick creamy cheesecake" on occasion. I get outside, exercise and do light yoga. I volunteer at a local community center and went back to college at 55yrs old. The biggest tool for anxious feelings I use is kind of an unstructered mindful meditation.....it has done wonders.

Please keep us posted on how you are doing, and know that we are here to support each other. As far as those stories from well-meaning people about others who have undergone treatment for cancer......a lot of them stop talking when you look them right in the eye and start talking about "anal" cancer.

Be well.

katheryn

jcruz
Posts: 231
Joined: Jan 2013

I didn't go to counseling until about 6 months after I finished treatment.  It wasn't until then that I began to fall apart.  Trying to live a "normal" life became impossible without help.  So I've been going every week since May and have recently gone to a psychiatrist to talk about meds for depression.  I think that I kept myself going one minute at a time through diagnosis, treatment and recovery and then when that was all over I was completely adrift, didn't know who I was, where I fit in the world, all that.  Counseling has been a life saver, maybe the meds will make a difference too.

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