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I have to ask . . .

MDCinSC's picture
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

I am now four weeks post surgery.  The first three were great, all things considered.  I've been judicious about exercise . water, meds, staying in touch, and working on getting myself back together.

For the past 5 days,  I feel as though I have run into a depression wall. My wife tells me she misses my smile and my jovial nature.  Frankly, I do too.

Is this unique to me and do I need to look for other causes, or is this a natural course for all that has happened in the last few months?

Has anyone else experienced this?


Posts: 25
Joined: Dec 2012

I think it's perfectly normal. I went through several phases of up and down. Eventually, we decide to live again and it it is mostly "up" Laughing


I got through it by basically telling everyone that would listen that I had cancer. My close friends and family listened, and I was able to get some of the pent up emotion out. I cried, I laughed, and I love to make jokes about it/myself.

icemantoo's picture
Posts: 3278
Joined: Jan 2010

Michael. Of couse you are going to have some good days and some not so good days a month after surgery. Just hope the good days are a lot more numerous.




Stros2013's picture
Posts: 31
Joined: Aug 2012

Yep.  Completely normal.

actually the pink cloud you mentioned is normal.  So is the eventual collapse because you pushed

so hard to get back to normal.


for me,  the mid afternoon fatigue was so very annoying because I had better things to do than take a nap.  

it was only after my first 6 month scans came back clean, that I realized death wasn't imminent (at least not on that day-  there will eventually come a day...I'm fairly certain... Just not that day)  and from that moment on I had greater perspective On life.


for me it took 6 months.  for others 6 weeks.  Some never Gain perspective And the cancer will rule them.  You will have to walk through these down periods.   doesnt matter if your primary was 2cm, 7cm or 12 cm...... know that many, if not all have been where you are today.



thanks for being real with your feelings.  With another scan in 3 weeks,  it's helped me gather further perspective and gratitude.

email if you need additional support.  in the near term,  get outside for a walk.  Eat a double scoop of ice cream.  




Galrim's picture
Posts: 305
Joined: Apr 2013

Its the most natural reaction of all Michael. And you should expect that you will have dips of depression-like moods from time to time for a while. Thats based not only on my own experience, but also on a lot of people I have met in support groups which to a varying degree has experienced this.

When first diagnosed with cancer most people go through shock, fear, contemplation about the future and preparing for the treatment. That phase is for RCC patients which are intendedly curable with nephrectomy a very compressed period of time. 

"You have cancer. It hasnt spread. Were removing your kidney two weeks from now. Snip snap. You can go home now. All done. Youre well and cured. Bye bye and see you in 6 or 12 months for a check-up".

"Wham bam thank you Mam. Was that it? Im done now?".........

What I am trying to say is, that for a lot of us the physical and mental healing and recovery doesnt go hand in hand. And in your case, like for most of us, the transition from shock and having a cancerous tumor inside you to being a ex-cancer patient is very rapid and sometimes overwhelming (Nano is going to come after me for the ex-denomination but what the hell).

I dont know your mental framework and you as a private person, but my advice would be to think a little about this contradiction of being healthy in body but not yet in mind. Come to terms with the fact that mentally theres still some bumps to overcome, simply accept those bumps as they come along, and have faith in the fact that as time passes they will be further and further apart.

Just my five cents.


Ps. Theres some time to your control, but dont be surprised if scanxiety hits you hard especially the first time or two (I was more stressed and scared at my first follow-up than I was when I got my initial diagnosis).

NanoSecond's picture
Posts: 653
Joined: Oct 2012

Galrim. Come after you? Perish the thought.  I enjoy your posts and usually agree with all your advice. 

As you known my beef is with the misleading expression "you are now cancer-free" being pronounced after successful surgery and where there are no other visible signs of cancer spread.

I hate to be the messenger but this is just not true.  Everyone has mutated cells that are potentially, if not totally, cancerous inside their bodies.  However, for otherwise healthy people, their immune system (or other natural mechanisms) are eliminating these cells long before they can take "hold".  But in the case of those of us who had or have a primary tumor (the cancer did take hold) the odds become commensurately increased that there now may be metastases in our future.

So I say that anyone who lets down their guard in these circumstances is making a mistake.  And that applies no matter how small or large the primary tumor was when it was removed or first treated.

None of the above addresses the very real fact that we all face up and downs in this tough journey. It's unreasonable to expect that everyday will be an "up" day.

Galrim's picture
Posts: 305
Joined: Apr 2013

My inserted comment was all in good spirit, and because I knew you would comment on the MCC. And because youre right about it :-)


Eims's picture
Posts: 423
Joined: Feb 2013

i remember my doc and my pharmacist saying that a little depression could happen weeks or even months after surgery michael and sure after everything you have been through its is completely normal.  the body and mind handle things in different ways and it has been a shock to both.  if you feel you need help just go get it and you look after yourself and remember we are all here for you too......

eims x

garym's picture
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009


I think it just takes longer to heal emotionally than physically.  You are slammed with cancer and surgery and you are stuck in a whirlwind until the surgery is behind you and the pain subsides, then your brain says "wait a minute, CANCER!!!".  Then the emotions that have been bidding their time while your mind tended to all the pressing issues at hand decide its their turn for some attention, its worse for some than it is for others, but we all feel it.  The old you is still there, we see him quite a bit around here and that's "normal" too, give it a little time, you'll find your way.


MDCinSC's picture
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

You've let me know that I don't need counseling (well,not for this anyway) and this is a normal part of the process. 

I love the "Pink Cloud," description because the euphoria of getting things over and the non-realization of everything I feared really kept me up and going. Compared to what I expected, it was so simple, and I don't feel significantly different than I did before.

The depression surprised me!  I suspect it is the realization finally dawning on me that I can't DO or participate, at least for a while, in the kind of life I lived before. My family is very protective, aggressively, almost to a fault, in not letting me do anything containing any risk and/or my dietary choices.  My wife is also a PhD and our grand daughter is an 18 year old Nursing Student.  There is no shortage of hubris in this family. Wink

Thanks for listening, ALL of you!

What a GREAT Group of People to be forced to join!  LOL

Te Amo amigos!


CR1954's picture
Posts: 1393
Joined: Jul 2008

I am 4 1/2 weeks post-op and I am feeling the same depression, so I'm so glad that you asked about it!

I think some of mine also has to do with members of my family feeling that I should be doing everything that I used to do...that I have had a month to heal and time to get going.  I try to tell them that it will take awhile, and I get the "eye rolling" from them, like I am trying to milk it for all i's worth.  I have tried to do some things that I knew I probably shouldn't just to please them, but I don't want any setbacks at this point.

At any rate, enough whining, and once again Michael, I'm glad that you asked these kind and knowledgeable folks.


Posts: 108
Joined: Apr 2013

I would not hesitate to call your doctor and get an antidepressant and an antianxiety script. They have helped me tremendously in the past three months. Prior to having mine, I would tear up at the though of the situation I was facing. I would also dwell on my pending death and how it would affect my family. I was an emotional wreck. Three months later I still take my antidepressant, but rarely touch the antianxiety meds. There's nothing wrong with having a little help getting through these darker times in out lives. At least that's my opinion and your mileage may vary.

Darron's picture
Posts: 310
Joined: Jun 2013

I typed about three different messages this morning trying to say the right things..didn't post a single one of them, they all sounded a bit cheesy.

In reading all of your posts, I never picked up on the fact that you were so close to surgery. Your ability to share the experience with the newbies and be such good support to all made me thing you were a savy veteran of this crazy stuff. I am only 9 months out and still have bad days and moments. It is scary stuff and there is no way around it.

My wife has also become fanatical about my diet, so I feel some of your pain there. She got to a point where she took Doritos out of the kids lunches because they had too many preservatives. They are gone this week to Pittsburgh to see family and Cedar Point on Friday... Just a tip - if you pay cash for the Ckick fil A milkshake, she can't track down your bad habits. Once you start driving again, your secretstops will be safe with us. I like kale smoothies as much as the next guy, but every now and then you gotta live. It is a marathon, the tough part of it is figuring our how fast you need to run.

Know that you are not alone on those bad days.

Keep your chin up

MDCinSC's picture
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

The "Pink Cloud," (I love that description by the way) is very powerful.  It also sets you up!

 Thanks for your support!  It's appreciated!

Your ChickFilA secret is safe!


Fizziwiz's picture
Posts: 42
Joined: May 2013

I am so grateful for this website. We really have come together on this place, and it is a good group of people!

Michael, I don't know if you recall that our surgeries were within two days of each other I believe. I am off all pain meds, have started driving, and I'm thinking about going back to work part-time, the end of the month.

My telephone nurse from my insurance company, gave me the tip to write a gratitude list morning and night. She said that glum feelings or the fear of cancer will return! If I have those gratitude lists, then I have a real tool. I can open my journal read them and it gives me a different focus for the day.

My youngest child is 13, he's the only one left at home. He was really starting to make me feel a little crazy before my cancer. Since then, I have only seen the joy that he gives me and not the crazy teenage junk.  That is a real gift.

I also have allowed myself to spend time alone doing something that I really want to do. Sometimes it's read, yesterday it was watching Dr. Who.  I am learning how to listen to myself. That's also a gift.

I think of you a lot Michael. I hope you're doing well, and I hope you know that I am with you.  I got your back, so to speak.

With care and concern,


Posts: 70
Joined: Apr 2013

I had the same exact issue last week. Before I was having ups and downs - and the downs were short lived and sporadic - but last week I had a few days where I just wanted to sit...and be alone... and I wasn't happy. This week Im fine! I know my situation is different,mine wasn't cancer so I dont have that hanging over me, but I think the surgery alone can take so much out of a person... I only even bring it up because my surgery was one week before yours and it is quite coincidental.



I wanted to add that one of the things that helps me whenever I get into a funk that I cant shake is to go to my favorite place in the world - my "Happy Place" if you will. This is where I went for a week 2 wks postop  -  http://thelaundryhamper.blogspot.com/2010/05/my-favorite-place-on-earth.html (this is a link to a blog that I had for a while then kinda stopped doing - but thats a long story for another day)

I am lucky that my happy place exists and I can go there and stay as long as I'd like whenever I like (kinda) But Everyone should have a "Happy Place" even if its just a coffee shop or park or bookstore... The point is, when you know you're in that "funk" it helps to go...even if you have to force yourself to do it - which I do sometimes but I am always glad I went!! 

cancerat46's picture
Posts: 52
Joined: Feb 2013

I'm amazed how similar most of our experiences are. Yeah I think what you're experiencing is normal.  I have to say that I think my depression lasted longer than it needed to and that's because I didn't reach out to folks on this board sooner.  I was in such shock when I heard "cancer" and between the time of my diagnosis and my radical nephrectomy (about 4 weeks) time just crawled. Then the big day of the big event (surgery) came and it was over just like that. When I got home from the hospital I was practically euphoric (seriously an ecstatic happiness) for about 3 weeks.  I swore I felt better physically than I had in 2 years (albeit very sore) and for a time was on top of the world....then I fell.  All of a sudden I mentally and emotionally felt like I had been hit by a semi truck.  Everything had happened so fast and I just couldn't believe or trust that it was really over.  I didn't find this board until just before my 1 year follow up.  I know that reading all the positive posts here and the encouragement the members have given me have been the key to my ability to wake up every day without my first thought being "Cancer? Really?"  I actually get many days in a row now when I don't even think about cancer.  You're way ahead of me; you're already reaching out for support and that's the best thing to help you through this bump in your road!  And with every clear scan it will also get better.  That 1 year scan I mentioned (back in March) showed all clear so I have some breathing room....until next year.  Don't get me wrong, not thinking about cancer every day does not mean I have any intention of being less than diligent on scans and making sure this thing hasn't come back.  But it sure is nice to not feel like Ziggy; the little guy with the cloud over his head all the time. As much as I hate that this disease exists so that a board like this has to exists I sure am thankful that it does!!  You keep sharing here and you'll be feeling better day by day!! 

Take care!


Raine22's picture
Posts: 33
Joined: Jun 2012

The one-year anniversary of my radical nephrectomy was 3/28/12.  9cm, stage 3, grade 4.  I went through much anguish and although I was physically able to get up and do things, I was completely mentally disabled.


 I have always been a giver and wasnt used to needing help, and pretty much refused to ask.  I did not return to work until 10/15/12.  I had to see a therapist and get on anti-depressants and anxiety pills, along with sleeping pills.  The only thing I take daily is the anti-depressant, because I feel so much better on them.   I take sleeping pills when I have those wide-*** awake sleepless nrights and take Zanax before my scans.  At the end of May, I went for final scans for the study I was in and the spot on my left remaining adrenal gland is growing.  Next scan in August.   I figure I might as well be happy on my anti-,depressants, before I turn into a 300-lb raging wench on steroids when my other adrenal gland is removed;)

trying to be funny, but truthful.   I am optimistic - this just sucks.  I just turned 50 years young, and have 3 beautiful daughters.


"Life's just not fair!", as my middle daughter would tell my husband and I when she busted us, eating ice cream after her bed time when she was about 3 yrs old!!!!


This site is so helpful amd necessary!  I don't post often, but read daily and I wish everyone only the beat!

Lorraine in Houston

MDCinSC's picture
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

The interaction and care that is demonstrated for each other on this board astounds me.  I could not want for a better group of supporters and cheerleaders!  I value each of you deeply!

You have reinforced that to me in the responses here and I will never forget your care.

With great affection


Eims's picture
Posts: 423
Joined: Feb 2013

michael you know that anything goes here and its fabulous that we can all meet here and laugh, cry, freak out, vent, whatever really and we all need that sometimes and it so important to do it!!  


eims x

foxhd's picture
Posts: 3183
Joined: Oct 2011

Mike, just back from a little R&R on my bike. So, late to butt in.... We all hit that flat spot. I hate the word depressed. Sometimes part of the survivors guilt. Weird. Sometimes self pity. Sometimes, reality sets in. What a crappy thing to go through. We all just want to live to a nice old age like Betty White. But we realize it may not happen. I know that when I have felt that way, I just need a day or two. I tell my wife, " I'll be ok tomorrow." And I am. You will too. You have proved it to me with your support to others. Those who are all self absorbed, take longer. You are not.

Posts: 63
Joined: Feb 2013














Hi, I get down too, usually around scan time.  After the scans I generally start to pick up. Then its the wait to get the results from the oncologist that's when I get really nervous. I did have a really bad month in April. But I talked to one of the drs and he set me straight. I am coming up to my 2nd year since surgery and 1st year since being told that I had mets in the lungs. I am having a week off Votrient because of severe diaherea, then going one a lower dose for a month then back up to the higher dose.












icemantoo's picture
Posts: 3278
Joined: Jan 2010



There are many on this board with less than perfect results and who manage to press forword in beating this little sucker.




DonMiller's picture
Posts: 109
Joined: Feb 2013

Hey Michael

I was trying to think of something that might be helpful but almost a year down the road I know how you feel.  I have scans scheduled for July 10th and it’s constantly on my mind.  I am at high risk of reoccurrence and I know it.  My oldest son is graduating with Distinction from Cambridge with an LLM a week from Saturday.  It’s a big deal but I just don’t feel like flying to England.  It’s not because I went through most of our money and can’t really afford it anymore. It’s certainly not that I am not proud of him and normally would be shamelessly bragging.  When I was a kid I remember this Bob Dylan song in which he sang (well to the extent he sang) “He not busy being born, is busy dying”.  I have been able to hide this from almost everyone except my wife………she knows and I know she is worried.  Got to stay busy being born but it aint so easy.



Gamecocks's picture
Posts: 30
Joined: Jun 2013

Going in this morning for my 1st scan (PET) since surgery 5 weeks ago. I am more nervous than I was the day of the cutting..I have experienced the ups and downs too. The diagnosis and surgery was swift, and now I feel like I have come out of a hurricane (which I have actually experienced over my years on the coast of South Carolina). 

Makes me feel better knowing I am not alone in my emotions, feelings...looking for more "up" days down this road, hopefully after a positive repot from today's scan...I do have faith, always have, and I do trust God, but I also lock my car! :)

so glad to have found this group!!!!

MDCinSC's picture
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

I've been fortunate so far that my up days far outnumber my down days. 

A dear friend of mine urges me to stop each morning and make alist of the things I am more grateful for. A suspect that helps crystalize a positive outlook. 

I know I am grateful they found it so early; I am grateful to still be able to work; that I am able to function and take care of myself; that I can look into the faces of my students and see a vibrant future for them whether I am still around or not and know that I helped them achieve that.

Its not the end I fear.  Thats natural and normal; a part of living. It is the journey and how it can be impacted by this disease that worries me. 

I am thankful for every day I can get up and function in the world.  I hope you can find that joy too.



Southwest966's picture
Posts: 18
Joined: Jun 2013

Hi Michael:I think I am about a week ahead of you surgery-wise.  I got double whammied with the death of my young step-daughter before surgery and the death of my one and only sibling sister just after surgery.  You talk about depression!  I cry so much every day, I hope it's not depleting all the water I am taking in for my OAO kidneyCry.  I just can't seem to pull myself out of it.  I go nowhere, I see no one and barely talk to anyone either. Many friends called and came by shortly after but most of them are gone now for the Summer. My feeling is that I really don't care about the Cancer anymore as I have lost all my loved ones and the will to live is waning.  I know I am a real downer here for this board of very encouraging people.  But sometimes it just helps to vent.  I think the person above who said she kept a journal is a good idea, might help.  I don't and can't take meds as I tried them all after my husband died 10 years ago.  Made me a zombie.  I think I ought to go talk to a priest to give me some strength to fight these feelings.  Many suggest grief counseling but it expensive, at least for me.

As far as my surgery, I feel okay, have not had first testing yet.  And the person above...not sure who, that said when they tell you they got it all and it hasn't spread sure didn't help my state of mind.  I was encouraged when told that.  Now I just have to worry about it all over again.

MDCinSC's picture
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

We lost our son a few years back. I do understand. We are raising our grand daughter as a result.

She is among the reasons I keep after it and continue to fight back.  I also take strength and inspiration from the people on this discussion board, the positive ones and the ones just dealing with new shocking news.

I come here daily to try to provide encouragement and support for folks whose lives have been unalterably changed by this diagnosis.  In helping them to face this awful disease, it helps me. I find purpose and meaning in what could be horribly negative circumstances.

LOL don't misundersand me, I don't think I am the panacea remedy for others, far from it.  However, my experiences and a positive outlook may well make an improtant difference in the life of someone with a new diagnosis.

Coming here helps me in every conceivable way. Being active amplifies that help. 

I am sorry for your losses. My heart and my prayers go out to you.

Find peace!


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