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after treatment depression

Posts: 3
Joined: Nov 2012

I'm a 42 year old female that just finished treatment for stage 3 hodgkins lymphoma.  I finished on Feb. 27th.  I thought when I finished treatment I would be able to move on with life.  That's not happening.  I'm depressed, scared, anxious and unable to figure out where my life goes from here.  I've started an antidepressant and xanax for anxiety.  The antidepressant hasn't kicked in yet but the xanax does help.  I have three children and I don't want them to see me crying all the time.  I have a wonderful supportive husband and I feel guilty for not being better.  I need to find a support group I think.  My prognosis is very good but it doesn't seem to resonate with me.  I'm so terrified that it will come back.  I miss my old life.  Everytime I look in the mirror I'm reminded of what's happened and I keep reliving it over and over in my mind.  The minute I wake up it hits me really hard and I'm basically just trying to make it until I can go to bed at night.  I'm getting really scared of how deep I'm sinking.  

po18guy's picture
Posts: 1222
Joined: Nov 2011

Have you asked doctor about speaking with someone regarding your feelings? Medication only goes so far and may only serve to make make your depression tolerable - but you end up still being depressd. One aspect of the cancer journey that can be a shock is that we must face end-of-life issues at an age where such things would never normally occur. Hodgkin's has an excellent remission and even cure rate. So, your recurring negative feelings may be reopening a wound that is healing or has already healed. As I see it, you really need to speak with someone. Do you have a counselor, pastor or priest that you can speak with in confidence? Even though the cancer is gone, emotional injury seems to be persisting. A change or refreshing of your world view can make a world of difference. This cancer journey is a struggle. It takes work to get through it. Compare it to swimming: it is excellent exercise, and you can make progress toward a goal by swimming. Or, it can be frustrating and frightening if you are afraid of the water. This fear can be conquered and you may then progress in confidence. But, you may need "swimming lessons" before this will happen. Just ask.  

illead's picture
Posts: 875
Joined: Aug 2012

I wonder if some of your anxiety could come from what a lot of us have felt.  When you are in treatment, you are attacking and winning the battle but when the battle is over you are left wondering if the enemy will attack again.  So in a way, although we are happy when our treatments are over, it a bittersweet feeling.  I am speaking as the caregiver.  Bill, my husband has a lymphoma that is not curable, but we are able to go with our life with much optimism because of the advances in the research they are making with cancer and lymphoma in particular.  We know we and the doctors have done the best possible so we really just try to put it out of our minds.  Of course we think about it but we don't dwell on the negative thoughts.  I know though that you are a lot younger with a young family so what I say is easier said than done.  As poguy said, many lymphomas are treatable and curable and it sounds like that is the case for you.  As he said too, there may be other issues you are facing.  Thank goodness you have a supportive husband.  One thing that you can do is just try to get back to normalcy.  Hopefully these feelings are just temporary.  I think sharing with the doctor is a good idea.  Also if your oncology nurses were as incredible as many are, you may want to talk to a few of them.  They have seen everything and probably have a good take on why you feel the way you do and can give you some good counsel and advice.  In the meantime, stick with us, we are a good support for one another.  You will see that many will be answering your post.  We help one another and new ones like you and that is one of the things that keeps us going.  When we encourage others, we are actually encouraging ourselves. Our thoughts are with you through this difficult time, Bill & Becky 

Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 3699
Joined: May 2012

As wonderful as my oncologist was (is), the Infusion RNs at my treatment practice were wonderful people. I went back after about four years recently for iron infusions (not cancer related), and one of the RNs and I got to talking. She was never my "regular" infusion tech before, but I had had her for one infusion before, and she remembered me a little bit.  I learned that she had had NHL years ago, and two years ago had both breasts removed due to late-stage breast cancer. Her attitude was positive and full of faith. She did a TV spot recently, documenting her path through all of this. 

Also, most community Cancer Society chapters have local support group meetings.


Rocquie's picture
Posts: 857
Joined: Mar 2013

It sounds like you may be suffering with post traumatic shock. It is a very real thing after cancer treatment and I'm sure you can find more information about it and resources for it.

You may also be grieving for your former life. Unfortunately, I think we all have to come to terms with the fact that we will never have that life again. We have to learn how to live and appreciate our new life. 

Talk to your oncologist about it. Also, a support group sounds like a good idea. Talking with other people who have lived through and understand always helps. Don't feel guilty! It is not your fault. Try to find ways to comfort yourself--candles, fresh air, bubble bath, music, favorite nighgown? Cookies.

Keep posting, OK?

(((Big Hug)))




allmost60's picture
Posts: 3184
Joined: Jul 2010


 Feb 27 is not that long ago from finishing treatment, so I think you might be expecting too much too soon. The one thing I've learned through my cancer journey is that everything really takes time.....lots of time. Don't rush yourself...take it one day at a time. Keep coming here and let all of us help you cope. Finding a support group in your community may be good also. It will get better. Much love to you...Sue


onlytoday's picture
Posts: 610
Joined: Jun 2010


Although you are quite a bit younger than me (I'm 60) ... I think that the journey with this disease can be similar for all of us.  The shock of it really can take a long time to heal.  Someone mentioned PTSD and I think that is right on.  It's very hard and takes  awhile to adjust to our "new normal".  It's terrifying, lonely at times, painful, sad... oh I could go on.  It's a time of transformation and that is always hard.  I have found that giving it time (which many of our other partners have already said) and being really really kind to yourself helps.  Reaching out to trusted friends, clergy, or a therapist helps because you can talk openly without the fear of being judged.  Come here and vent- we get it.  :)


Hugs and prayers to you-

It will get better.





Gina 1009's picture
Gina 1009
Posts: 14
Joined: Aug 2012

Hello! I was reading your comments on the way you felt after treatment had finished. I know very well the feelings and fear that you talk about. I always thought there was something else I was supposed to take or procedure that I was supposed to continue with. When chemotherapy stopped that was it and, happy though I was, it is a strange feeling.

I was diagnosed in May, 2012 with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Diffuse B Cell and went through chemotherapy from July 6, 2012 through October 30, 2012. My last chemo was October 30th and PET scan was the last week of December, 2012. My PET scan came back showing no active cancer and that was January 3, 2013. For a few weeks I felt elated and then, for some reason, I fell into a depression. I do have a therapist and was going to her long before my diagnosis for other issues. It happens that she worked with cancer survivors (which I didn't know when I first went to her) and she has been a real help letting me talk this out and giving me advice.  She conveyed to me that quite frequently survivors feel the post traumatic stress disorder that I have been reading about. The oncologist said my prognosis was good and I actually feel strong and pretty active so I also do not understand why I still can not feel comfortable with my diagnosis either. I started to tell my husband i couldn't believe I could relax about it. My oncologist wants me to have another PET scan in July which is six months from the last one and I increasingly feel more and more nervous and unsure. I find that keeping active and my mind off of this does help. I don't believe it is unusual to feel this way, from what I have been told, but I do understand and think a support group of some kind is really important. This is a life altering situation so I presume the after effects don't just disappear right away from such a traumatic situation. I hope all that feel this way will somehow feel better and get the help they need.

jimwins's picture
Posts: 2111
Joined: Aug 2011

Hi MVallerie :).  I've been monitoring posts here and I have to say I agree with them.  PTSD would not be unusual after this experience.  Also it hasn't been that long since you finished treatment.  I know for several months, I had similar feelings after I completed chemo.  I think at this point what you are going through is not unusual.  I hope things improve for you soon and please know we're here for you.



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