Scared and Anxious!

CMills
CMills Member Posts: 3 Member

Hello all,

I am a 24 year old female who was diagnosed with Classical Hodgkins Lymphoma in March. I started my 6 cycles of chemotherapy at the end of July and I have had a horrible time coping with my new reality. The first couple of treatments were really rough and though it’s getting better and each treatment gets easier, I am still having problems with severe anxiety and fear. They say my diagnosis is the one you want when talking about cancer but I am still afraid that some complication will happen and I will not survive. Is anyone else out there dealing with the same issue? Next week is my 5th round of chemotherapy, but it seems like the days are moving at a molasses speed. I had to quit my job due to the horrible side effects the first two rounds so unfortunately, I am stuck at home most days and being trapped in my house does not help my mental health. Any advice?

Comments

  • PBL
    PBL Member Posts: 355 Member
    edited September 2022 #2

    CMills,

    Sorry you are finding it difficult to deal with your diagnosis and treatment - but not surprised. There is nothing in what you write that will seem odd to a fellow cancer patient - or, indeed, to your medical team. As for your comment on your perception of time while going through treatment, again, I think you will find many people who can relate to that.

    Being told that you have an "easy" diagnosis may have incidentally conveyed to you the notion that you shouldn't complain about any of this, and silenced you as a result. The result is the sense of isolation - which you do not express in so many words, but has clearly driven you here. This does not necessarily mean that you do not have people around you who care and support you as best they can through this, but that you may feel as though you are alone with those fears and thoughts you are experiencing.

    My advice to you then, since you ask for it, is to open up to your doctor and/or nurse about your having a hard time dealing with those fears and thoughts and ask to be referred to a psychologist or social worker. Your care team probably includes them, or have at hand a list of people who are competent with cancer patients. You may also want to ask them about a suitable support group (lymphoma / young adult patients). Another option (and all of the above can be used jointly) is specific gym/yoga/mindfulness classes, etc.

    To sum it up, you are not alone, and the first step to not feeling isolated with your fears is telling your care team about them and asking for solutions to manage that universally acknowledged aspect of dealing with a cancer diagnosis. If their response is not satisfactory or if cost is an issue, you may also want to turn to the LLS (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - https://www.lls.org/) to see what they have to offer.

    I hope this helps. Please let us know how you fare.

    PBL

  • CMills
    CMills Member Posts: 3 Member

    I do have a really great support system in my mom, brother, and sister. They are doing the best they can in a hard situation, but you are right. I still feel alone and isolated. I have been struggling really hard with my anxiety and most days it seems to get the better of me and all I can think about are the “what ifs” instead of focusing on what is. I am on a few different depression and anxiety medications but they do not seem to help. I also see a psychiatrist and a counselor, but neither is very experienced in dealing with cancer patients it seems so they do their best. Friday is my 5th dose of chemotherapy and then my 6th after that which will put me at the half-way mark. I am suppose to have scans in the next week to see how the cancer is responding to treatment and that is giving me anxiety as well. I really hope the cancer is responding to treatment, but the fear of infection taking me out is my biggest worry of all. How did you manage your fear of infection?

  • ShadyGuy
    ShadyGuy Member Posts: 822 Member
    edited September 2022 #4

    I hate seeing you in this position at such a tender age. But it is what it is. You seem to be doing well. There are basically two “hardwired” responses to fear and danger - fight or flight. Unfortunately we cannot run from cancer though some I have known retreat into drugs. My personal response to diagnosis, after the shock of hearing it was “why me, health-wise I have done everything right ?”. I soon realized that none of that mattered - it is what it is and like it or not I had to deal with it. It was much better for me when I decided not to be the victim. Someone said “ courage is when you are scared to death but saddle up anyway”. Fight back aggressively. Question authority. Drive your own life. Odds are tremendously in your favor on this. Kick cancer in the a$$ and defeat it. Things will improve tremendously after cycle 6 and you get your NED diagnosis from the upcoming CT. All my best. Your darkest hour is almost over. Best wishes.

  • CMills
    CMills Member Posts: 3 Member

    I appreciate your belief and best wishes. I have definitely been leaning on the flight mode towards all of this and I am trying to get to the fight part instead. As you said it is what it is and I have to fight this, regardless on how scared or anxious I may get. The only other alternative is to give in and wait for this cancer to do me in and that isn’t an option for me. I have many things I still want to do and see in the world. There are many people I still want to spend time with. I want to watch my brother and sister continue growing and be in their lives for many years to come. I don’t want my mom to have to bury her child, so I continue to fight and show up for each treatment no matter how hard they are or how much I want to quit. It’s an uphill battle at the moment and even though I feel like I am not handling this situation well, at least I’m trying to handle it at all instead of giving in. I tell my mom that I will fight this even if I have to go kicking and screaming.

  • po18guy
    po18guy Member Posts: 1,348 Member

    Sorry to hear about this challenge. No one asks for this to happen, but happen it does, and for no apparent reason. "Challenge" is the way I chose to deal with it. For day-to-day coping, finding a satisfying way to keep busy, even mentally occupied, is one way of dealing with this. Allow your mind to occupy itself with things you love while your body deals with the thing you do not love. Do you have hobbies or favorite activities that you are able to accomplish? They can be touchstones to some degree of 'normal' while the rest of your life is spinning. Chances are that something you enjoyed very much before all of this is still something you can enjoy.

    As you have heard, classical Hodgkin's is pretty much a disease of the young - but if one must face this, honestly it is far better to face it when you are more resilient. For a very high percentage of Hodgkin's patients (80% or more), it is "once and done" so your prognosis is very good indeed.

    Staying in contact with family and friends is very helpful and love is tested at such times. Some may disappoint you, but others will step up and that does your heart good. Some of your family and friends may act strangely or avoid you. What that tells you is that they simply do mnot know what to do, they feel awkward, and so the choose to do little or nothing. I would forgive them that, as they must deal with feelings of helplessness - as much as they want to help. But sometimes, just spending time with you - even in silence - is such a great comfort. They are also suffering; certainly less than you and for a shorter time, but they suffer. This is the sacrifice of love and love is the most powerful force on earth.

    Many will say "You can do this" or "You got this", but in reality, you are doing this and have already done so much. My hematologist likens treatment to the storm that we must pass through on our way to a vacation spot. The goal is rest and relaxation in a peaceful place. Therefore, look ahead to that peaceful time and the comfort that will arrive once this is behind you.

  • Annech
    Annech Member Posts: 1 *

    Hello CM, Sorry to hear about your situation. I completed 6 rounds if chemo in August and still dealing with the side effects. I wish I could offer you some real advice but my situation was tame compared to what read about your current All I can offer is empathy and love. There are better days ahead for you. Hang in there Sister, this too shall pass.

  • whoknows22
    whoknows22 Member Posts: 1 Member

    I was 29 when diagnosed, I’m sorry you are having a hard time. You should apply for social security disability incase you need time to recover after your treatments. They make you wait several months so apply now

  • AmandaStillDances
    AmandaStillDances Member Posts: 1 *

    Don’t you HATE when they say “it’s the one you want”? Like, no Thankyou I don’t want ANY kind of cancer please ! I am In my second year of remission after a six year long battle with stage 2 b Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I had two stem cell / bone marrow transplants and endless chemo / radiation. Here if you need to talk.