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Emotional vs. Rational After Cancer

ceezhar's picture
Posts: 12
Joined: Jan 2004

Truejoy8 helped me on Tuesday far more than she knows--I was having a crying jag and couldn't stop. Yes, this could be Post Traumatic Stress, any shock can haunt us at any time, regardless of the time span (look at the Viet Nam vets). I've even had flashbacks and the pit of my stomach just drop and had to go to bed and lie there shaking. Everything is either enhanced or less emotional than before. I'm surprised at my lack of compassion at times and then surprised at my outrageous gratefulness and overly heart-wrenching sympathy at other times. I want my husband to hug me and when he does, it's not right--I wanted him to do it because HE wanted to, not ME wanting him to. After all, if he really loves me, shouldn't HE read MY mind? Having an anniversary and a birthday last week, when last year I didn't think I'd ever see either again was very sentimental. Why? Because I had them or because I didn't think I WOULD have them? I suddenly feel like damaged goods; I fear abandonment; I feel overwhelmed by the possibility of being killed in an auto accident after beating the cancer--what a shame and waste of energy that would be; I fear them finding cancer somewhere else in my body when my CT & PET were great in December. Now, I ask you...Is this cancer-nuts, hormones, post trauma/shock syndrom or mild depression? I think a bit of all! And we are entitled to it. I'm out of "fight mode" and having to re-adjust and let my hair down and relax. Yes, I may have to go on an anti-depressant if it keeps on or gets worse, but hey, I'm still here 18 months after they gave me only six months to live and were not even going to treat me at all--and in clinical remission. Of course, that is rational speaking and a normal way of looking at this, but sometimes I just want to cry too, feel for myself, remember the past and sort out what went on outside the fog that I was in earlier.

Also, hearing of other deaths, expecially when people are younger, is hard on us too. I've had seven friends and relatives to die this past year from cancer, and three of them were encouraging me that I could make it! Two died only two months after diagnosis. Scary? Very much so.

People that are reading this and having these symptoms, it is normal. The medical community is just now merging with psychologists and discovering that there is a problem after cancer they HAVE to address.

God's blessing to you truejoy, and everyone else going through this! --Ceezhar

truejoy8's picture
Posts: 41
Joined: Jan 2004

Wow thank you Ceezhar, although I'm not sure what I did. It really does help though to know you are not alone in this. I've been going through the exact same things as you. Most of the time I'm fine and everyone is proud I'm dealing so well. But sometimes I find myself with this sick fear in the pit of my belly, or crying for the tiniest reason. Rationally we know we're okay now. But emotionally we're just starting to deal. It's like the Heart vrs. the Mind, winner take all. I think that's where things like this board and other support groups are important. No one else can totally understand what we're going through. You know when someone gets shot and they face death, poeple understand if they go through some emotional stuff. Well cancer is like being shot everyday for months or years. Of course we're going to be emotional at times.

I think that anyone dealing with cancer or that has a loved one with cancer should read your message. The physical and emotional effects are far longer lasting than most people realize. May all the blessing be for you Ceezhar.

Posts: 3
Joined: Feb 2004

I could have written your message. I completed 11 months of treatment (chemo, stem cell transplant, and radiation; had several very serious complications and almost died twice) in July 2003. I am cancer free, thank God, yet I'm an emotional wreck. It truly is Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I, too, have flashbacks. Some at the most inappropriate times -- like when I'm having a really good time. I can't watch violence on TV or in movies or stories about sickness or death - particularly cancer. I can't even handle the slightest bit of stress anymore, having had a very high stress job before cancer. For example, if my toast burns or the phone rings, I get really agitated. And, as we all know, every little ache or pain or change in bowel movements produces a fury of fears about the cancer returning. I also have a problem with swallowing anything that has been associated with being sick. I'm lucky to be totally off all meds, but I can't even swallow vitamins without gagging. And when I go in for follow-up scans or tests, I can't drink or keep down the liquids they require you to take. I also don't have a sex drive anymore, even though I look better and "sexier" than I ever have. And everyone compliments me, including my husband, who is very loving and romantic. But I don't FEEL GOOD. My foot has permanent nerve damage from the tumor, so it feels like a lifeless lump of prickly clay. My tumor site and port site still hurt. So when he wants to cuddle, I cringe. Don't get me wrong, he's wonderful and very understanding and gentle, but I feel so guilty that I can't be the love partner I should be. I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I'm glad to find out I'm not. And I'm glad to find out I'm not crazy. I'm not looking for sympathy or empathy. I really would appreciate any suggestions to get past this point. Thanks.

truejoy8's picture
Posts: 41
Joined: Jan 2004

It is such a relief to know I'm not the only one going through this. I'm sorry you are having such a rough time though. It doesn't seem fair. Surviving cancer is hard anough without all this emotional junk to deal with after. I found that the only thing that helps me when I get upset is to release it somehow. I write, draw (even if I'm no artist), or find a sympathetic friend and cry on their shoulder. That last thing can be that hardest. Most poeple get uncomfortable when a friend gets upset. They want to say the right thing and make all the pain go away for you. You gotta be clear to them that you don't need them to make it better, or even speak sometimes. You just need THEM. Also the chat group on this site is really great if you want to talk to people who have been through the same stuff. I'm really gratefull for this site. It's been a great help to me.

Posts: 47
Joined: Jul 2003

If you can afford it, I would suggest getting professional help. Ask your Doc for the name of a social worker or psychiatrist with experience with cancer patients. I've been dealing with Hodgkin's disease since 12/00 and I've talked with both. See if there's a support group you can find. Contact a social worker at your local hospital to see if there's such a group meeting near you. Get some help. There's no point in suffering alone and internet bulletin boards can only help so much.

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