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Sinking into depression?

Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2003

About 2 weeks or so ago, my dad was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer that had already spread to his liver. He has 9 spots, some fairly large on his liver. The past several months, he's been working pretty hard, and although he showed some signs of fatigue, he still worked. The past month, he started taking daily naps and thought he might have depression. Finally when he went to his appointment, they told him he had cancer. Since then, he sleeps a lot. He complains about his liver hurting, and he just drags around. It's thrown the whole family into shock, and we've all been in disbelief that this has even happened. But, lately, my whole family is coming out of shock, and we are beginning to wonder if my dad has just given up. He says he hasn't. But, when he talks, you can hear it in his voice. It's like he's just pulled the covers up over his head and feels there is no use in fighting the cancer. The doctors have told him that he's incurable, and that he could live up to 5-8 years, but more than likely will only have a year to 18 months left. And while I'm sure the doctors know their stuff, I keep thinking that they can't know everything. I've checked out several inspirational books for him to read, but he hasn't really shown too much interest in them. And from the books I've read, a major component to beating this thing is to at least have hope you can and be willing to fight it. But, how can you get someone to fight if they don't want to? How long does it take for it to sink in and for you to realize you can't just roll over and let the cancer win? Should I be concerned about depression at this early stage, or should we give him a few more weeks before we talk to him about it?

StacyGleaso's picture
Posts: 1249
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi stormfront,

Ok, I have quite a bit to say...
First of all, shame on those doctors. If they can predict something as unpredictable as someone's death, then they are in the wrong business. They should be in the circus guessing weight and birthdays of the public.

Secondly...it doesn't sound like your dad has fully given up, maybe he's just scared. Dads are supposed to be strong and supportive for their families, and it's got to be hard to have others to depend on. Plus, with the doctors adding his expiration date to the scenario, he's probably thinking it's just better to prepare all of you now, so there is less pain for all of you later. WRONG! I don't know how old your dad is, but he needs to take it for what it's worth. So what, you got diagnosed with cancer...as long as you're here to read this, you're still a survivor. The only time you are beaten by this monster is when the funeral bill has been paid...until then, the fight is not over!

Thirdly, let him know that you all are trying to understand what he is experiencing. It would help if each of you could try to attend doctor visits and treatment visits with him.

Finally...let him know I was stage 4...lost 40% of my liver, gallbladder, and some lymph nodes. I never once asked for my "odds," as I truly believe that I am the exception to the norm. Stay strong. It's hard to remain positive all of the time, so just take each day as it comes.

Hope I helped, sorry to ramble!


Lisa Rose's picture
Lisa Rose
Posts: 597
Joined: Mar 2003



spongebob's picture
Posts: 2598
Joined: Apr 2003

Storm -

If there is anybody to talk to you about this, it's Stacy. She's been there, done it, and gotten the tee-shirt. Your dad needs to get his butt on here and chat with her - she'll tell him how to use the chatroom!

You are absolutely correct that one's attitude is the most powerful tool in their tool kit. He could very well be depressed. I think we all get that way - even briefly. There is a period of mourning when some doctor gives us a death sentence. If the doctors are that good at predicting numbers then why aren't they lottery winners? Forget the stats and get living.

As for a good book not only for your dad - to give him some positive anecdotes of people who have traveled his road - but for you to see what's going on in his head right now, may I suggest "Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul". Yeah, it's another one of those "Chicken Soup" books that I thought we hokey, but it's actually very uplifting and educational. I recommend it to all my friends who are either survivors (there are NO victims of cancer) or caregivers (I prefer the word "lil' helpers").

Hang tuff with him. You have made a huge step forward by contacting the acs csn. Your dad should be here himself. Read our webpages - there are a lot of fascinating folks here who have gone through some amazing trials. Plus - we're all just a hoot to chat with!

Keeping you and your family in my prayers...

- SpongeBob

Posts: 176
Joined: Mar 2003

Way to go Stacey and sponge bob

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

hello stormfront,

I am sorry for you and your family about your dad's diagnosis, but Stacy is right...shame on those doctors. THey have no right to do that.

Cancer can cause depression physically....then add the emotional cocktail and there is potential for a downright tailspin. His diagnosis is brand new and it's a whole lot to process.

If you are looking at ways to help him then I suggest you pick up the books and start researching. Don't take all that the doctors say as gospel truth. There are plenty of folks out there who beat their cancer but it will not be documented in the mainstream medical journals so his doctors may just not be aware of them.

A good book is Beating Cancer With Nutrition by Dr. Patrick Quillin. It's a good start.

Websites: www.curezone.com and www.hacres.com.
Hope some of this helps. I wish you and your dad the best.

peace, emily

Posts: 232
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi stormfront- I agree with Stacy about being scared. I was initially diagnosed Stage 3 Rectal ca, and later, after a surgery, Stage 4. I am a pretty optimistic up beat person. I was so scared about what was going to happen, how it was going to affect my life, and how everyone I knew would react to the news, that I almost noone for 3 wks. I was sure I would burst out in tears just talking about it. I walked around with continuous infusion of 5-FU in a fanny pack under my labcoat at work for 2 days before I told anyone! Somehow it was easier to tell people about it once I was already on chemo for a few days and didn't look or feel any different. Everyone at work and my friends were more supportive than I ever dreamed possible, but it took me a bit of time to sort things out enough to be able to share my feelings.

Places like this are so helpful, because you realize that you are not alone. You can come to just read, or to chat. Getting a bit of an idea about what to expect and learning about this disease made things easier. Being able to discuss things with my doctor so that I felt I was a partner in my treatment helped too.

Being in pain might also be contributing to your dad's lack of interest. My liver hurt like crazy when I got a liver metastasis. I thought I had a broken rib! I did not feel like doing much of anything including reading. Fortunately pain medications helped some and after 3 wks of chemotherapy I was feeling better. I am now feeling well on chemotherapy 1 yr following my Stage 4 diagnosis.

While I have had some difficult times, I remind myself that there are other diseases such as severe emphysema and severe chronic heart disease etc. that just make people feel continuously badly with no respite. I hope, with a bit of time, your dad realizes that there is hope and it is worth the fight.

I would talk it over with his doctor if he is still having a tough time. Social workers or oncology nurses in their offices sometimes can provide suggestions for local resources, support groups etc. who may be able to help both your dad and your family.

Best of wishes for all of you,


StacyGleaso's picture
Posts: 1249
Joined: Mar 2003

Kris you are so right! It's funny, everytime I read a story about someone else's colon cancer, I think it sounds like my own!

A movie you all need to see is "The Medicine Show" with Jonathon Silver. It's a dark humor kinda movie that will really let you see this whole experience from a different perspective.

Keep up the good work, Kris, Emily, Patti, Lisa, "Storm", and of course, SpongeBob!

Posts: 9
Joined: Feb 2003

Dear Stormfront,
What types of activities did your Father enjoy before the prognosis from the Doctors? What made him laugh or get excited about life? If you can get him interested in these types of activities again then it helps to give meaning to the rest of life in general! Believe me it works! I fought with depression when my doctors told me that I had 6 months at the most to live, in 1984! You see, even though the doctors are learned they do NOT have the last word!! GOD has the last word!! I have left my life in his hands and HE has blessed me with more time. But you know even if I had the blessing of going home when the doctors said I was supposed to, I would've been ok with that because I would have known that it was God's will.
Pray for peace and the willingness to accept God's will but know that irregardless of what the "Doctors" say they are only guessing as to the length of time that your Father has left on this earth. God's will and your father's will work together, if he will but humble himself and allow God to work within him. He WILL bring peace to your whole family!! I know that he loves you just as much as I know he loves all of us! He will NOT leave you without a source from which to draw this peace from. Daily prayer and scripture will help. Attend your local church and TRUST IN GOD for answers to all concerns.
Take Care and don't give up,
Giver of Hope

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