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Why?

JSIFMA
Posts: 3
Joined: Dec 2008

I have reached an anniversary, one year ago this month was my last of 12 grueling chemo treatments for stage 3 colon cancer. Found it during my 50 year old check up in May 07. I have just had a wonderful christmas with family. I had my 12 month check up with nothing but good news. But... I can't sleep again. I feel like ? That's just it, I can't seem to feel. I have on going issues, hernia surgery two weeks ago from the colon resection surgery. Thought I could work in the yard again, oops! Can't feel my toes, oxiplatin issues. Oh well" your alive, you should feel great, happy, etc. That's just it, I should but I don't. It's affecting my life, marriage, business.

I am told healing takes time. But when is the other shoe going to drop?. When will it be back? These thoughts just keep coming back. I can't stand how my body looks. I don't feel attractive to my wife. Is this just another cruel part of the battle? Post cancer battle blues???

Thoughts?

krystiesq's picture
krystiesq
Posts: 242
Joined: Jun 2008

I am sure that a lot of more experienced people will respond to this post. From what I have read from other discussions about this matter, it seems to be a normal occurrence to have the blues post chemo. My friend told me that once you are diagnosed you worry about it coming back more than is admitted. Give your worries to God and discuss with your primary physician your feelings of depression.

I'll keep you in my prayers.

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

I think once we start feeling better, post chemo, it is natural for us to start looking at the fallout and not be so happy about it! I look SO different than I did most of my adult life I am tempted to carry pictures of my before self and show them to everyone who stops for 10 seconds! Just kidding, of course, but I am truly happy to be here, but sometimes... If you are really having a very tough time of it, ask for a referral to a counselor, preferably one who has experience with cancer survivors, we are a unique breed! We obviously have a strong will to live and desire to not let the beast be triumphant, but we have been through so MUCH that it just takes a toll! And once we are no longer actively fighting with chemo or whatever, we can't HELP but wonder when the next shoe will drop, as you put it! PTSD just has a way of taking hold and we aren't very rational at those times. We greatly recognize the impact war zones have on the tender young people out there fighting for our freedoms while experiencing things most of us would never be able to function again if we were faced with them. It's the same way with cancer. The things we have been through and might have to face in the future would bring down the largest and toughest of us! Most of the uninitiated would cry if they TRULY knew what it was like! However, we also get to experience the many angels we never knew existed until the beast visited. Life has changed and we are now dealing with a new normal, as has been said many times here. Do what you have to to feel better about the new normal; there are many avenues out there to help since you aren't the first and won't be the last. It is understood now more than ever that it isn't worth the fight if life isn't enjoyable so they are putting more emphasize on the whole person instead of just the cancer. Get out there and get a plan; you will feel better and your family will thank you for it.
mary

JSIFMA
Posts: 3
Joined: Dec 2008

Mary and all

Thank you for your words. You are all simply more angels in my life and I feel better for it. My doctor says I am feeling "normal thoughts" considering the battle just fought and won. But the war continues and I can't drop my gaurde but I need to enjoy my "new" life. Thank you again all. I am very glad I met all of you.

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Hi. You're not alone in singin' those post-chemo & other issues blues. It's not just that you have to live with the effects of chemo. Everything else that happens takes on a greater life than it would have if you had not had to deal with everything else.

I had to have knee surgery this year, and I was almost more offended at that than at the 2 cancers I have dealt with. I felt that I should now be exempt from everything else. All the pre-op etc felt so much more onerous. I came out of that thinking, "What the heck else is going to happen?"

After a lot of thought, I realized that my knee would have given out, cancer or no cancer, and if I had not had the cancers, the knee would have been the huge thing. As it was, it just felt like a gigantic cockroach nuisance and another issue to deal with on top of everything else.

So actually, we are lucky in a very perverse way--we can look at all the other stuff as tedious chores rather than huge obstacles, because we have climbed the huge obstacles!

Hang in there and just swat those gnats & mosquitoes away. We have faced the charging elephant!

Hugs,
Kirsten

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

But the nature of colorectal cancer is that even tho it has a good survival rate, if caught and removed, the physical and emotional scars are great. The digestive system is used daily. Hence, you are reminded daily of your fight.

I am 4 years out, and am considered everything close to cured. There are some days that I still get attacks of 'canceritis', but they get fewer and fewer. I was tentative about restarting my life, not knowing if I HAD a life or not, but now, as each day passes, well, each day I cherish!

As far as your physical changes...have you talked to your wife about her feelings? Maybe she loves you regardless. As we age, even without help from the beast, our bodies change. My beau and I talked of this...and he says "I still picture you the way your were when we met. The biggest smile I have ever seen. And you still have that smile!"

Hugs, Kathi

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

I have 5 more treatments post operative to go and then Im done other than the cat and pet scans and then checkups.I have thought about it, we have been so turned inside out by everyone we have come in contact with for the last year. Think about it, for a year we have been showing our arses, penis', gave blood to everyone that looks our way. There was no time just for us. We have been nursed, poked, prodded, vandalized, all in the name of health. We have been a pin cushion for everyone. We have endured numerous encounters of wanting to just say "No More", we have had our lives pulled out from under us sometimes not knowing whether we will be here next year or not. I have a bag hanging from my stomach, how damn sexy is that ? its not, period. I am 54 , we had a great sex life before cancer, I have had sex 3 times in a year, 1 time by myself.....LOL, but ya know what. Im alive to raise my children, cancer has brought to my attention the things in life that are most important to me. Sure I want to be sexy but hell lets face it I poop in a sack. Ya know what, I am beating cancers *** plain and simple. I don't care if Im sexy or if the wife doesn't find me as alluring as I once was. With my life as any life we change , though a disease like cancer or just through aging, but as you my feet are tingling (oxiliplatin), my face is now haggard and worn looking, I have bags under my eyes, I feel like hell most of the time. Yeah, My life is affected, my marriage is affected, and my job is affected. I sleep when I can, if I can't then I lay there until I do go to sleep. If my wife doesn't want to have sex with me, I can understand why, my job is affected because every other week I can't work because of treatment. I know that will end but life goes on. I enjoy everyday because I have kicked its ***. I enjoy every day because it is a blessing to just be alive...When you get to feeling like life has dealt you a bad card, well it has !!!, but then take a trip to Vandy Childrens cancer clinic or Kosairs then tell me how rough your life is. I did that, I will never gripe about not having my old life back when I look at the young children that won't be here next year and I say to myself. Why am I so selfish ? Cancer is a killing machine , it is also a taker of ones pride, lifestyle and feeling of ones self worth. Do as I did, direct your path in life to helping others , if you don't belong to a church go visit one. Cancer is probably the biggest reason people find Christ. He will change your life, He will make you smile when there is nothing to smile about.

I hope I don't come across as striking out at you. I have and am going through the exact same things as you are. I know exactly how you feel. Just try and direct your "new" found life in a different direction, it worked for me wonderfully. Im alive for my God and my family......nothing else matters.........God Bless ya Bud...He sure did me..... :-)

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5056
Joined: Feb 2008

I love to read your posts! You're so honest and gruff and sweet all at the same time. I have a sneaking suspicion your wife is still excited about you.

*hugs*
Gail

pamness
Posts: 515
Joined: Nov 2007

I was warned by all my caregivers, doctors, etc. that the post treatment period would be very hard and I might feel depressed. I had a very difficult time with chemo, etc. and said "oh no, I will be so glad to be done I won't be depressed, anxious,etc.

I learned that I am an idiot. I was depressed and anxious for about 6 or 7 months post treatment. I am now 17 months out and have a few unusal CEA results, but it is definitely easier now.

What you are feeling is very normal, and predictable.

I was seeing a therapist during treatment and continued -and am continuing, I also take a small amount of zoloft which has helped.

But think about it - your life revolved around surgery, treatment, etc. Then it ends and you are on your own except check ups.

This is probably a delayed reaction to the stress of the diagnosis and the recent good news. Maybe you should talk to someone about it.

Just know that your reaction isn't abnormal - Talk to you wife - I'll be she thinks you look just fine.

I, too was 3A, diagnosed on a routine colonoscopy.

Pam

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

I was very optimistic about finishing chemo and moving on with my life and family and starting a new chapter in my life. Much to my surprise, I found myself tired, sick, full of neuropathy, poor memory, and I cried every time I held my then 18 month old child. I was scared, angry, and felt out of control of my life. I think a part of it is that we (or at least I) feel we are being proactive in fighting the disease when we are on chemo and then feel vulnerable to the cancer coming back when you finish the treatments... that's my take.

I knew I needed to get help... and found this site while searching for a support group for the really small town I was living in at the time. I found that after learning how many people understood and have walked down the same roads as I was walking, I no longer needed a support group. I learned to pray. I learned to eat healthier and excercise. I learned that it helped me to just keep repeating a prayer, "Lord, I can not carry this burden alone. Please help me shoulder this hardship, load, whatever" and eventually the tightness in my chest loosened and the tears were held at bay and I felt at peace. My husband's favorite saying was, "If it comes back, we will deal with it again. We will fight hard again. In the meantime, let's live." There's truth to that. You can't allow cancer to rob you of your life if you are still here living and breathing.

These feelings are quite normal. I bet you would be surprised to know your wife likely does not find you any less attractive. Wear your battle scars proudly (something I have started to learn to live with)... for they are proof of your healing.

Find what works for you in getting out of the post traumatic cancer disorder funk, but know that you are not alone in your feelings.

I took small doses of zoloft and an anti-anxiety med during the beginnings of my chemo treatments, but not for long... In hindsight, it probably would have benefited me to start taking it again post treatment, but I didn't.

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi,
Your feelings are very normal, as several others here have already expressed. I just wanted to also give you my empathy and sympathy, as well. It really does suck that we have to live with the worries of recurrence after we finish all the tough treatments! No one ever promised that life would be a garden of roses, though.
I'm on chemo currently (since late August) for a recurrence in my lungs (I had rectal cancer w/ mets to both lungs and liver initially- went through Folfox+Avastin chemo for 6 months, then chemo/radiation which made my rectal tumor disappear (and avoided rectal surgery!)- but then did have liver surgery this past May. I went just May-August thinking I was doing well, when a scan in late August showed stuff growing in my lungs again- back on chemo I went again).
I had a hard time for about a week after knowing it was back and I had to do the chemo again, but then I prayed for the Lord to give me back the same positive outlook on all this that he gave me when I was first diagnosed- it did come again.
I'm not telling you that I had a recurrence to discourage you- that is certainly not my intention- many, many people go for a long, long time after finishing treatment without any sign of a cancer recurrence- a few in that category have already responded to you, in fact!
I just know that I could never have gotten through all this without my Lord and Savior. I believe I would have been much more depressed and negative if I had to "go it alone". So many people have been so wonderful to me, but they still could never make up for the "peace that surpasses all understanding" that I've received from God. The Bible verse "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" has become almost a mantra to me at times.
I do hope that you have that peace from the Lord Jesus also, because it really is hard to convey to someone else who hasn't experienced it what it's like. It's kind of something that, if you haven't experienced it and aren't really sure if it's real, that you just kind of have to talk to God yourself and pray for. When you feel and receive it, you'll know it. Not neccesarily by a lightning bolt or a dramatic angelic appearance, but just a joy and a peace that can't come from anyone else. Yes, you can just talk to God- it doesn't have to be a fancy prayer. Blessings to you- May 2009 be a year of truly good news for us all!
Lisa

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi,

I forgot to mention something I had meant to recommend for dealing with the depression. Someone else mentioned Zoloft and other antidepression meds, which could definitely be something worth looking into. Myself, I didn't want to be on any more meds that might interfere w/ other meds or make my brain fuzzy (I have enough problems with that from the chemobrain as it is!) May I recommend looking into taking 5-HTP...
It's available over the counter with vitamins and supplements in stores. I used to get it at WalMart in their vitamin/supplement section, but I now get it online at a higher dosage and also for less money. It really does help! Do your own online research on it for yourself. I also have my young daughter on it- her pediatrician didn't want her to take antidepressants, but had no other solution other than counseling (counseling is good but doesn't address clinical depression, which is what my daughter has- it runs in my husband's family). It does seem to help with a positive mood- it's more noticeable in my daughter when she forgets to take it- then after a grouchy day, I'll realize I forgot to give her the 5HTP. Note: the label also mentions that it can be an appetite suppresant- so be cautious there if an appetite loss is a problem for you. I've never noticed it affecting my daughter or myself in that way- we both eat plenty without any change, but thought I'd mention that since it does say that on the label. (I'm one of those chemo patients who never lost my appetite- in fact I wouldn't mind at all dropping a few pounds, but that has not happened!)
Take care,
Lisa

Joy1216's picture
Joy1216
Posts: 293
Joined: Mar 2006

I was diagnosed as Stage 1 in 2006. After surgery, I met with an oncologist once, then I was on my own. My only follow-ups were colonoscopies at 6 months and another in one year. Now I'm on the 3-year plan. I also go for annual physicals. While healing from my colon resection I became very depressed for a few days. Guess I was just way ahead of chemo patients on the time line for getting depressed. It took me a while to realize (thanks to this board) that it was normal for any colon cancer survivor to be depressed. The depression comes and goes. It doesn't last more than a few days, but I throw great pity parties. LOL I always pray about it and soon I am fine. I've been told many times over the years that I am a survivor and a role model because of my positive attitude. I have never taken any medication for it because it's gone in just a day or two, but those couple of days are pure hell. (I've always described myself as a realist who tells it like it is.) My friends and husband don't understand how I can be depressed because my cancer was caught early. I don't even try to explain it. Like I said, prayer works for me. I can't blame cancer on feeling depressed because I've felt depressed a few times over the last twenty years or so. As time goes by, I hold fewer and fewer pity parties. Good thing because tonight I'm having a New Year's Eve party for about 15 close friends. Anyhow, I feel great 99 and 44/100% of the time and you will too. It just takes time for your mind to process "I have cancer" and for your body to endure all that you have with chemo.
Joy

dixchi's picture
dixchi
Posts: 438
Joined: Jun 2008

Well, I tried zoloft.......took three pills and each time had serious diarrhea and threw up
once so I will have to get back to my oncologist and see if there is another anti depressant
that works with me better. Meantime, I have found meditation.....specifically guided imagery which I attend at a Wellness Center.....to help a lot.....any practice that involves the mind
focusing on positive thoughts helps. I still believe there is a physical/medical reason for
depression such as interference with serotonin, etc. and will still see in an anti-depressant also helps.

Monicaemilia's picture
Monicaemilia
Posts: 455
Joined: Nov 2006

Hi: I'm still in treatment, but went through a period of high anxiety/depression. The doctor prescribed Effexor and it did wonders. I was slightly nauseous for about a week but it went away. I called them my 'happy pills'. I no longer need them at this point, but would not think twice about going back on them if it helps me be happy instead of wasting one single minute worrying about this disease (more than I already do, I mean). Only you know how much you can handle, and there is help out there.

Occasionally I think about the days when I wore sexy clothes, high heeled shoes, was a size '0' (yup, there is a size '0'). Now I want to make sure I remain at least at a size 8 and up (ha ha). High heels just make me move slower, and dressing sexy makes me feel good temporarily, but it can get darn cold quickly. I also have an ostomy bag, so we won't even go there. Sooo, I have adjusted to a 'new normal'. Stop worrying about what 'might be' and feel blessed for 'what is'. Have a Happy New Year! Monica

Faith4Cure
Posts: 405
Joined: Mar 2007

Great news on your recent 12 month check! I know that sometimes even that good news fades and you are back to the "blues" You probably feel guilty when people tell you to just be happy you are alive and well. Give yourself some time. You have been through a huge adjustment. Maybe talking to your doctor or counselor about it would help. If is depression, there are many options in dealing with this. I went on a very low dose of an antidepressant for 6 months a year ago and it was amazing how much better I felt. Also if you are feeling up to it, maybe starting an exercise program would give you some energy and make you feel better. Find some help with this, after what you have been through, you deserve happiness!

My husband had stage 3 rectal cancer. He had an illeostomy for 6 months and now has 3 very evident scars from surgeries. One of them is a butt scar (I just learned that term from another post, lol!) We just think of them as battle scars---and he won! Yes, his body looks different now, but it just reminds me of what we have been through and makes me feel very lucky to have him here with me.

Happy New Year! Look ahead, not back. It's gonna be a good year! Believe it!

Faith

MoonDragon's picture
MoonDragon
Posts: 194
Joined: Jun 2005

I felt the very same way for a very long time. My husband was trying to cheer me up one day with the same, "but you're at least alive to feel this way" when I told him to cut the PollyAnna crap and let me just "feel" the way I did. It just takes time and patience with yourself. The aftermath of getting my life back together and working out they physical kinks and wondering if I should even bother putting my life together because who knows how long I'll have, was much worse than the cancer treatment itself. I still don't have my life and my body back and I still want to keep looking over my shoulder for the cancer bogey man but I've learned that even though I might not be happy with where my life is, to just be patient and give it more time. I always have to remind myself of this when I'm racing to the bathroom! Hang in there!

bigCrandy
Posts: 75
Joined: Sep 2008

Sorry you're feeling this way but I believe it's normal to do so, I know I did after my first round of chemo. I had stage 3C colon cancer, took out 14" of colon and my spleen. 20 of 22 lymph nodes positive. Anyway, after 6 months of folfox, I went through 9 months cancer free. I had my mediport taken out cause it was plugged up, I thought I was in the clear felt better than ever. Well, it decided to come back but only in my abdominal lymph nodes so I went back on chemo but this time I'm on folfiri plus avastin, I like it a whole lot better. So far, so good, the results are encouraging, I've just finished #8 of 12. It's normal to worry if it will return and where will it return because it's the nature of the beast. It sounds like you're doing pretty good and I pray for good things to come. Cancer plays mind games as well as the physical beating we have to endure. Like a lot of the members have already mentioned, let go and let God. Through God all things are possible, enjoy it one day at a time, may God Bless you and your family, never give up! Hang in there, Randy

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