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MarkWalz
Posts: 58
Joined: Jan 2006

Throughout my battle of stage IV colon cancer, met to my liver, I have been very upbeat. I needed to be upbeat with my dz. So far the surgeries went well, the treatments of radiation, chemo all went well as could be expected and now it is good news, I am cancer free as of September, 2005.
My problem now is I all of a sudden feel so depressed. I cannot think of anything else accept thinking when will the cancer come back? I keep thinking, well this CT is good, this blood work looks good, and then I think the further time away from the chemo, the radiation, the harder it has become to be positve. I have seen so many people go through all this, then a year later, or 18 months it comes back in full force.
I just need someone to talk to in you all are the ones going through this too. I cannot get anyone to understand. I cannot find a support group nearby . I cannot put any of this out of my mind. I just don't know what to do. I want to encourage people to be strong through all of their own treatments, but now, I just don't know what to do.
Mark
I am sorry for the rambling, but I need to ramble.
Thanks for your support.

RunnerZ
Posts: 185
Joined: Feb 2004

Mark,you are not rambling at all. You are putting into words exactly what I felt for the last month or two while waiting for an upcoming colonoscopy...and I am 7 years disease free. As cancer survivors we are always waiting for the proverbial "other shoe to drop". I wish I could tell you I have great answers, but I do not. I do know that when I was at your stage of recovery I first encountered other surivors via the Internet, and it saved my life. They affirmed their understanding of my quandry...I was disease free but did not know how to handle it...nor had any desire to keep up with the routine of life (work especially). they said to live life a little bit at a time and grab onto good parts of any day. I continued to run, work and raise my kids as best I could, and slowly regained my balance in life. I still fear cancer returning, perhaps even more after being healthy for this long. I still am a different person than before cancer. Be patient with yourself and pick something positive to work on in your life, whether it is a hobby, a charity, or an old friend that could use your company. Most importantly, hang in there. It does get better. By the way, the only time I did not worry about cancer was when I got the colonoscopy drugs...what a relief!

MarkWalz
Posts: 58
Joined: Jan 2006

Thank you for your kind reply. I really appreciate your wisdom. I am doing some positve things with Foster Care, and that really works for me. I told my wife that is the best thearpy for me right now.
Congraulations on 7 years of being cancer free. I hope you have 10 times that number to raise your family and do your positve feedback. I continue to work and it has just lately become hard for me to get excited about anything. My commuinty work is the best though. I am also starting to get into a new hobby with a friend called geocashing. It is sort of like a scavenger hunt for adults with a gps system. Lots of fun and keeps my mind off the cancer.
Do you mind sharing what stage you were in? I keep looking for someone that has had stage 4 and have lived as long as you.
Thank you again. This has been great for me, and now that I have figured out how to use this site I will continue as I fight this dreaded and unwanted disease.
Blessings on you and your family.
Mark

alihamilton's picture
alihamilton
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi Mark, as RunnerZ says, what you are feeling is very normal. My husband does not talk about his fears very often but I feel he is just waiting for his cancer to come back at some point. As his caregiver, I think about it alot but try just to live for the day....none of us know how long we have, whether or not we have or have had cancer. I find if I just try to live in the present and appreciate each day as a precious gift, that helps to alleviate the anxiety somewhat. It is easy to become self absorbed and miss out on the pleasures of life. I agree with RunnerZ that starting a new interest or hobby would be a good idea. No one can change the way you feel but you can control your fears to some extent. This forum is a great place to vent your feelings!

Take care,

Ali

jsabol's picture
jsabol
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi Mark, As a stage III survivor, surgery Nov 03, finished chemo July 04, currently cancer free, I can sure empathize. On the one hand, I feel very grateful that I am currently cancer free. On the other hand, my dad had a recurrance with mets at the 2 year post chemo mark, and died from his cancer within 3 months. If I contemplate that too much, I get incredibly anxious and immobile, so, in the short run, I try not to contemplate that for very long. I had no symptoms when I was first diagnosed on my baseline colonoscopy, so I know if I were to develop clinical symptoms things would not be good.
My 3 month follow up visits to my onc can also bring on near anxiety attacks. Just the smell of the lobby of the building gets me nervous! My onc is very supportive through my tears, then I try to tuck it all away til the next visit.
For what it's worth, I think of us survivors as having a type of post traumatic stress. I try to cope by living as healthy as I can and take good care of myself. I have tried to focus on the priorities of what really matters in my life. Exercise and meditation help. When I felt more depressed and anxious, I considered antidressants, but decided to let time do its job, too. By following my routine and making some changes, I found that things got easier. Right now I also find it hard to reach out to people on this board. I know that there are others who have stepped up here, and that is part of our cycle of helping each other.
Give it some time, keep us posted and know that there are others going through the same thing. Judy

MarkWalz
Posts: 58
Joined: Jan 2006

Judy,
Thank you so very much for your sharing. You have helped me so much. This was my very first posting, and did not know how it would be recieved. I have felt encouraged. I hope we can keep in touch. I go for my blood work next Tuesday March 21. thanks again.
Mark

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MarkWalz
Posts: 58
Joined: Jan 2006

thanks for your postive feedback. I have already told my wife I need to be involved in helping someone, and I told her that the most I feel helpful are the committees I serve in the commuinty. I serve a Foster Care Review Board, an Intrested Party Review Board (for Foster Care chilren under 10 years of age that are neglected, abused etc.) and a Big Sandy Review Board (helping women that are abused). So we have something else in common. We help children. I just told my wife that brings me the greatest pleasure. I met with all these groups last week, and I really was so happy to do this. I thank you for your suggestions. I share this same information all the time in my profession. I need to take my own advise.
You have been a great help and do continue to help those children that need our help. Thank the person in your church for me that made the suggestion.
God Bless you .
Mark

nanuk's picture
nanuk
Posts: 1362
Joined: Dec 2003

Mark: Don't take your depression for granted,esp. if it is persistent. Symptoms can be evasive, and the cause could be something entirely different that what you might think. I have had a few bouts with depression, and the most recent was fixed with medication. See your Doctor and get evaluated. Bud

MarkWalz
Posts: 58
Joined: Jan 2006

Bud,
Thanks. I will see my doctor this next Tuesday. I will tell him because this is the first time I have really been down. I try to hide it from everyone accept my wife. I have told her, but she already realized it happening. Thanks so much for responding. this means more to me than you know.
Mark

ron50's picture
ron50
Posts: 1729
Joined: Nov 2001

Hi Mark,
I know cancer and I know depression. I was depressed long before I found I had cancer. I have always dealt with depression my own way I always figured if it is caused by life situations ,for me,no pills were really going to help. Iwas dx with stage 3 cancer into 6 lymph glands and they told me I probably wouldn't make it. Quite frankly ,at that stage I didn't really care too much about life but I was dammed if a rotten disease like cancer was going to make the decision for me. Like you,I took everything they could give me to beat cancer,well I've been clear of cancer for over 8 years now,I remain vigilant but i no longer worry. I work long hours sometimes 7 days a week and still suffer depression but after cancer I am stronger and better equipped to handle it. The old addage that time heals all ills is true so take it day by day and don't waste your life by forgetting to enjoy the good times when they come along,best wishes Ron.

kangatoo's picture
kangatoo
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hi Mark and welcome to our "family".I was stage 2, resection, 6 months chemo....now NED for 2+ years. Yes mate, the fear is always lurking and I guess always will especially before upcoming tests. As for depression I definately resemble your situation Mark....or at least did for quite some time.I never wanted to take antidepressants mainly because all meds in some way have side effects but eventually succumbed to my gp's advice and took them for a while.I also saw a "cancer" clinical pshycologist to talk about all my fears...that helped enormously.My depression was more acute almost straight after completing chemo. It was to me as if my "security blanket" was taken from me. I also tend to think that our doctors tell us "you are fine" once NED is confirmed. They seem to basically tell us that everything will be ok and nothing to worry about. A bit like telling someone after open heart surgery that one will carry on now for another 10 years or so. That is fine for most completely cureable diseases but for us no matter what we are told the worry always lurks in our minds.
As with our wonderfull long term survivors, Runner and Ron....there are very good prospects for long term survival.....but that does not entirely eliminate what we all feel. As they say...we have to train our minds to look elsewhere for something to occupy our lives.
Personally, there are still days I feel pretty down, no lying from me on that issue....then I just go get on my motorcycle, ride thru the countryside and try to concentrate on the wonder of life and things around me.
Mark...never, ever think that you are rambling or that your problems are too trivial to post!
All the best mate, Ross n Jen.
ps.....a coupla years ago I came on here looking for the very same thing you did...support...guess what? I am still here...why? Probably because no other board would want me! lol!
(sometimes we laugh on here too Mark....time and a place for everything mate)

jana11
Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004

Mark,

what you are experiencing is 100% normal and COMMON. I was seeing a therapist when I was first diagnosed. She was also a cancer survivor. She warned me that often the hardest part is when all the treatments finish up and the waiting game starts. The waiting game is TERRIBLE!! It eases up with time, but the fear is always there.

I actually took an antidepressant for a couple years. I am not taking one now, and I feel really good despite my lung mets and surgeries.

Talk to your doc. Consider a therapist. Help others. Come here.... it will get easier. Just hang in there and KNOW - we have all been there. What you are feeling sucks, but it is NORMAL.

Be well, jana

StacyGleaso's picture
StacyGleaso
Posts: 1249
Joined: Mar 2003

Mark,

I was stage 4, with liver mets, too. It'll be 5 yrs clear this October for me. To be honest, I think I am part alien....I never feel into the depression slump, but I'm confident my kids had EVERYTHING to do with that! I wanted to be the picture perfect role model for them and show them how tough I am. Each day, I think of how far I have come, and how precious every moment is that we have here on earth. I know, it sounds really lame, but it's true! And I know that I got this disease to use it to help someone with their battle.

So, anytime you need a little pep talk, just drop me a note! I love being able to help people find that "half full" side of life anytime I can!

YOU HAVE ACHIEVED SOOOOO MUCH...DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE WALLOWING IN THE "WHAT IFS"!!!

Stacy

foxy
Posts: 190
Joined: Oct 2005

Hi Mark, like you I also had colon Ca plus a large liver met----- that was over 12 years ago and I am alive and kicking. It is very normal for us to get down at times especially like the others have said at the time of tests. I have had a bit of a down time lately with rising CEA but after a scope and PET scan I have been found to still be cancer free. Hang in there Mark you will get through this time. Virginia.

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi Mark and welcome,
I found, as others have, that the worst time, in terms of depression, was after all the treatment ended. During diagnosis and treatment, I was so focused on being strong and getting through it all. But when the treatment ended, I went through a difficult period, emotionally. I ended up seeing a therapist for some time, which was very helpful for me (may not be for everyone). She did describe what I was going through as something like posttraumatic stress. I don't want to push antidepressants or other medication, but I also think we need to be aware that sometimes that might be the most appropriate thing for a while. The fear is something we all have to live with. I read somewhere something about learning to live under the sword of Damocles -- and for me it is an appropriate analogy. But focusing on the "live". Best wishes,
Tara

Betsydoglover's picture
Betsydoglover
Posts: 1256
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi Mark -

I SO understand what you are going thru. I also have Stage IV with a liver met. Colon resection in June, chemo from late July thru late November. Current PET/CT's look great although "something" still shows on CT (but stable throughout). Docs don't think it is cancer - negative on PET - but it still worries me. Every scan is a source of anxiety. I am now looking at a week's worth of tests at NIH to determine my eligibility for a clinical trial. Talk about stress! I am hopeful, but also fearful that they, with all their sophisticated imaging, will find something that alters my current "NED" state.

When I was going through chemo, I did really well, I was very upbeat and very focused on my treatment. Much comment about "my great attitude". However, I have - like you - had a lot of "down" time since being taken off chemo. (My oncologist actually warned me that the hardest thing might actually be "not being treated".) I don't actively worry about the disease coming back but I also (when pressed to think about it) can't help contemplating that this is not usually considered a "curable" disease. So, I find myself feeling a bit "flat" at times. I think this is normal, and not likely to completely go away. I try very hard to find a bright spot in every day (and - don't laugh - I find that easier on a sunny day!).

If someone hasn't been through it themselves, I think it is very hard for them to understand. My husband is very supportive, but he can't relate to my concerns / "depression".

I would not totally discount some "psycho-pharmocologic" help. Psychiatry is not all about talk therapy and what your mother may have done to you. Sometimes it is just about brain chemistry and there are drugs that can help - often only needed for relatively speaking a short term. So you might want to consider that. (I have not ever taken drugs for depression, but several years ago I suffered from panic attacks and after much suffering and no help from my internist, I finally bit the bullet and saw a psychiatrist. He treated me with drugs only for 2 years - they worked like a miracle - that was 5 years ago and I have been fine since. So, my only point is not to completely discount that possibility. Sometimes with cancer, I think, it is easy to fall into the trap that says "but I have reason to be depressed". Don't let that keep you from getting additional help if you can't get through these feelings on your own.

Anyway, Mark, I wish you the best. Realize that your feelings, however unpleasant, are nevertheless normal. And, there are many of us here who are no doubt having similar feelings.

Keep coming back here for support. We all need to help each other - this is a tough road we have been given to travel.

Betsy

HowardJ
Posts: 484
Joined: Jan 2005

Hi Mark,

As the others said depression can accompany cancer. I found when I was first diagnosed that I needed to talk to someone and was fortunate to find a therapist who specialized working with cancer patients. She really understood everything I was feeling and going through. You might want to consider finding such a therapist if your depression continues.

Howard

terril
Posts: 297
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi Mark!!!
You have been through hell. You look back and it is still a shock. When I was first diagnosed I went for help. I have always been a healthy, upbeat person. Wham!!! I could not get away from the "dark place" as I called it. I reached out and began to talk and get help. Mark, seek others and help if you feel this is best. Remember...you have incredible news of survival. Keep living!!! A friend of mind who went through a bone marrow transplant for multiple myeloma ( he is doing great) is my hero. He told me "when you are going through hell, keep on going! Look what happens if you stop!" His courage and positive attitude have given me so much hope. He has described his bout with cancer with the following:" Well, it has been very interesting experience!"
My prayers and thoughts are with you, Mark! Terri

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

Hi Mark,

If you search back on these boards nearly a year ago you will find a post by me saying almost the exact same thing. I endured diagnosis at 27 with stage III colon cancer, surgery, more surgery, chemo and on and on.

My husband had barely started a new career that our family desperately needed and I pleaded with him to focus on his new career so that we would have something after I finished treatment. Because of this, he had to do seven months of training between Fort Worth and Kansas City forcing him to be away much of my treatment. My in-laws live near Fort Worth where my father-in-law works. My daughter was only a year old at the time and we lived with my in-laws so we could be near my husband more and they helped us get through, thank God.

When I finished treatment, I was so excited because we would finally all be living under one roof in our new state and in a new house. I was excited to get started on making the house ours, and focusing on weeks and months at a time without doctor visits and just moving on with life healthy again.

The reality was that the chemo had become my security blanket of sorts. I was so afraid that the cancer was just going to come back because I wasn't "fighting" it anymore -- I wasn't doing chemo anymore. I cried myself to sleep each night and just knew I was going to be leaving my family. I ate the wrong stuff, cake, brownies, ice cream in huge quantities and so not only was I depressed, I was gaining huge amounts of weight. My husband didn't understand at all. He thought I was just being negative.

I finally realized that I needed help and fast. I found these boards. This board saved me. I learned that there were things I could do to help prevent cancer. I started eating healthy and started excercizing every day (or try to anyway). I started juicing (which I just picked up again). And I finally saw hope. I met other survivors and knew that I was going to be ok. Or as ok as any survivor can be.

Most days I have to look at my scars to even believe that I ever had cancer... Most days I don't even think about it. Of course each time I have a new pain I automatically think I have cancer again or when scan time shows up I get scared again.

Hang in there, it does get better.

Patricia

crazylady
Posts: 544
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Mark,
I agree with everyone else who has posted. What you are feeling is perfectly normal. I was seeing a therapist and on antidepressants before my cancer diagnosis. I am now off the medication, but still seeing the therapist who turned out to be a cancer survivor. I highly recommend therapy! I also believe that it's really important to take some time just for yourself and do some things that really interest you. Try to take a break from cancer occasionally. It really seems to help me.
Take care,
Jamie

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