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Feeling Overwhelmed

Posts: 6
Joined: May 2012

Hi Everyone - I'm new here so be gentle with me. ;) I just passed my 18 month mark from my last chemo treatment (6 treatments - 3 carbo/taxol, 3 carbo/taxotere - completed 11/18/10) and so far NED, so yay! I have horrible neuropathy in my feet (I'm 47 but often feel and/or walk like I'm 87!) and chemo triggered rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia so I'm dealing with a lot of unexpected complications. Still, I'm here and I don't have cancer and I celebrate that every day. I was just hoping to get some feedback from the Survivor Sisterhood about an issue I'm having. I don't know if it's a post-chemo thing (like chemo-brain - how much longer can I use that as an excuse??) or being forced into menopause and all the hormonal issues that come along with that or what, but I am so much more easily overwhelmed by things than I was pre-cancer. I think I'm a pretty strong woman (hear me roar) - I endured nearly 20 years of marriage to an emotionally abusive bi-polar addict (who wouldn't stay on his meds for the bi-polar, but wouldn't stay off any and all other meds he could get his hands on) and then did the single mom thing for a few years, but I made it through and have some pretty great kids to show for it. My point is (yes I'm getting to it) that I've always been able to handle things, cope without much in the way of meltdowns, just suck it up and deal with it (what other choice is there really?) But I don't seem as able to do that now - some days it feels like nearly everything is overwhelming. Really major things like the house needing to be cleaned or taking my mother dress shopping, etc. Part of it is I just still feel so exhausted all the time (which I'm sure the aforementioned RA/fibro/neuropathy contributes to) so by the time I get home from work I just don't feel like I can do one more thing (in other words, any energy that I do have is going into work rather than home, family, etc. - anyone else see anything wrong with this picture??). It's not just physical things though, it's the mental, emotional, (yes even the theoretical!) - any and everything it seems. Anyway, short story long, I was wondering if anyone else out there is dealing with this same kind of thing post-treatment (or is it just me?) and if so, any suggestions? Thanks for listening. :)

Tethys41's picture
Posts: 1226
Joined: Sep 2010

The conditions you have developed, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, are both autoimmune conditions. I never had them before chemo, but developed a few autoimmune conditions, I'm guessing, as a result of chemo. This is why you feel so tired. I found a book with an amazing diet that has gotten all of my autoimmune conditions under control, and the results were relatively immediate. "Autoimmune: The Cause and the Cure" by Annesse Brockley and Kristin Uridiales. The diet is restrictive, but most of it, with the exception of the raw honey, is actually what cancer survivors should be eating anyway to prevent a recurrance. I suspect you would feel much better, have more energy, and be more able to deal with life if you adopted this diet.
As far as the demands you are under, I found cancer to be a push in the direction of prioritizing my own needs instead of acquiesing, like I always used to. Another great read is "Cancer as a Turning Point."
Good luck!

kimberly sue 63's picture
kimberly sue 63
Posts: 421
Joined: Apr 2012

You have had to endure a lot. It is normal to feel overwhelmed. I talk with my patients all the time about stress and the reaction it has on their brain receptors. It can deplete important receptors needed by the brain thus increase depression and anxiety. Talk to your doctor about it. Maybe you need an antidepressant for a while to get the receptors back in line. Or if you are on an antidepressant maybe it just needs adjustment. Also do something for yourself like pick up some pretty flowers, read a book, take a long bath, yoga, anything that is just for you. I also think a good conversation with a close girlfriend always helps.
For your neuropathy start a supplement Glutamine or L-glutamine. It is an amino acid that is most abundant in your body and gets depleted with chemo and stress; so it does not hurt you. Take 10 grams 3-4 times a day. It may reduce neuropathy. Also ask your doctor about Neurontin, I use this all the time for patients with neuropathy from chemo or diabetes.
Hang in there and be kind to yourself. Kim

Posts: 126
Joined: Mar 2012

you have been through a lot. I am now on antidepressant and see a counselor. I also suffered through abuse and stalking and a whole array of other issues in my life. Some of my own making but the point is, I dealt with everything, as did you. But this disease has left me feeling so weak, vunerable and unable to cope. I am still in treatment so I have chemo head which makes me feel even more vunerable and unable to cope. I think maybe the other things I have been through, in the back of my mind---no matter how hard it got, I knew it would end. Life's circumstances change and things get better. But with this disease you just never know. And although you are disease free you still have to deal with conditions caused by the chemo that leave you feeling sick. Don't beat yourself up over it. Cry when you need to cry. I found holding that back was detrimental to my well being.

Mwee's picture
Posts: 1341
Joined: Nov 2009

Welcome and I'm so glad that you found this group. First let me congratulate you on being NED. You sound like a strong and together fighter, but there is, for most of us, life before and after diagnosis. I've been dealing with this disease since 2006 and have had lots and lots of chemo. I, too, have deal with chemo related side effects. My ONCs office has helped me to better cope with many of these, but I had to overcome my reluctance to bring these conditions up. I too am woman (hear me roar)... I can do this, I am in control and what I found after way too long was that what I was going through was all too common and treatable! I was put on an anti-depressant ( if that stuff wasn't developed for us, than who? ), found that my magnesium was way too low and went on a supplement that has really helped. You are not alone and found the right place to come to for support.
(((HUGS))) Maria

poopergirl14052's picture
Posts: 1185
Joined: Nov 2010

Is just as hard as being in tx. So many side effects you have to deal with as well as your personal life. Emotions are surely tested in this cruel disease. Try to take it day by day..step by step. Wonderful to hear you are Ned.. Come back and let us know how you are feeling..val

Posts: 6
Joined: May 2012

Thank you for all the input, support, and suggestions - I have tried some of them and will definitely try the things I haven't. It always surprises me how much better I feel just hearing from other strong women who have fought the good fight with this disease (and/or are still fighting!), who truly know the experience. It's so completely comforting just to feel sincerely heard and understood. I have an amazing family and wonderful friends around me who are supportive and kind and helpful, but there is no substituting the camaraderie of those who have been down in the same trenches I have. I think that only those who have been through it can fully understand. To me, it's such a surprising and hopeful irony that there is so much strength and support from this club we're all members of now - especially considering that it's a club we never wanted to join in the first place but were rather thrust suddenly and brutally into (Oh the Cancer Club? No thank you, I'll skip that one. I'm already a member of the PTA, Gold's Gym, etc., I don't need another membership, thanks anyway. Wait, what? I don't have a choice? I'm suddenly a member now whether I wanted to be or not? Well that stinks! I didn't sign up for this. And the dues are way too high...). So thank you for once again reminding me that I'm not alone and that I don't have to deal with everything on my own. I appreciate your insights and the hand of friendship you've extended. Maybe this club isn't all bad after all. ;)

Radioactive34's picture
Posts: 387
Joined: May 2011

Hugs :)

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