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Depression and Anxiety after Cancer Diagnosis

todd121's picture
todd121
Posts: 1425
Joined: Dec 2012

It's been 18 months since my diagnosis and 17 months since my nephrectomy. I'm finding that I'm still having trouble with depression and anxiety. I was wondering if any long-term survivors of this damn disease could talk about how long this lasts? Does it go away? What does it take to kick it?

I saw my doctor's PA today, because I've been having some symptoms which I think might be related to the BP med they put me on (swelling hands, tiredness, weight gain, just not feeling good) and mentioned to her how I'm still having trouble with depression and anxiety about my cancer returning, and she told me to not "think like that". I understand that idea, but I'm not so sure I can think my way out of this.

I'm feeling more isolated than ever. I have two sons. One is 30. He's been married 3-4 years now and is a successful, busy attorney about an hour away from me. My younger son is 28 and lives with my ex-wife. This is the worst year ever in my relationship with them. Since my cancer diagnosis they've seemed to distance themselves from me, the exact opposite of my expectation and desire. They never call to just check in on me or ask how I'm doing. When I call my older son, if he answers, he's often distracted and impatient to get off the phone. My younger son has actually said about 9 months ago that he needs space from me. These are kids that I worked very hard to give a good life to. Good schools. Nice home. Helped them with cars and college. Took part in scouts with them and soccer. Piano lessons. 3 months ago I lent a large part of the downpayment on a new house to my older son. I really don't understand it. I'm really down about it. I've treated my birth father that gave me up for adoption, and my adopted father that didn't pay his child support or ever call or visit me better than they've treated me this past year and I just don't get it.

I assume my family have all decided that I'm cured and that I've moved on. I haven't. I wish I could. I'm very aware after this event that my time is limited, one way or another, and I'd really like better relationships with my family, but it doesn't seem to be a priority with them. Some of this may just be normal. Perhaps expecting 20-somethings to call you regularly is ridiculous? I call my parents regularly, but I probably didn't do it so regularly when I was younger. Honestly I don't remember. I know I wasn't checking closely on my mother when she had breast cancer 20 years ago. Now I don't understand how she did it. She worked and supported herself all alone while undergoing surgery, chemo and radiation. I appreciate her now for how tough she must be.

Todd

 

dhs1963's picture
dhs1963
Posts: 510
Joined: May 2012

You are confronting your mortality.  You suddenly realize that the time you spend with your love ones is limited.  Unfortunately, they are busy living their own lives.  The best thing I can recommend is asking for help.  I do not know how I would have made it through this without my happy pill (zoloft). 

Therapy is not a sign of weekness...it is a sign that you know when you are over your head.

APny's picture
APny
Posts: 1971
Joined: Mar 2014

Being told by the PA not to think like that is hardly an answer. Considering the issues you’re dealing with in your family life on top of dealing with recovery from cancer surgery, well, I’m not surprised you feel anxious and depressed. Either one alone would be enough to do that never mind both together. But I would say no, 20 somethings are not the most solicitous, empathetic people in the world and besides that, they may simply not know how to deal with what you went through, nor how to talk to you about it. So for them the easiest thing may be to avoid or distance themselves from the discomfort and that’s what you’re sensing. I agree with Dhs above; therapy or some antianxiety meds may help. I take Xanax and it definitely helps.

cubsfan9
Posts: 66
Joined: Oct 2013

Good Morning, Todd!

I am sorry that you are having to deal with all of these relationship issues along with your illness.  Not knowing your family or its dynamics before your cancer diagnosis I obviously can't shed any light on your children's reactions.  However, I would share our experience...we have two grown sons (ages 38 and 40) who are both married, have children, and live in other states.  When my husband was first diagnosed they took it very hard, especially our older son.  He and  his wife really struggled to accept and deal with the diagnosis.  Cancer is not typically discussed with the boys, but our daughters-in-law will sometimes talk to me about how things are going.  I think it is just too difficult for our children to deal with their parents' mortality.  We know that they care and love their dad, but they can't face this and they try to act as if everything is 'normal'.  Have you tried to express your feelings to them?  There was a thread on another discussion board about how people who have never had cancer cannot really understand all of the feelings, needs, and emotions that are involved in living each day--just as you could not really relate to all that  your mother went through until you were in a similar situation. 

As for your depression...I think most cancer patients go through some of that.  Counseling or some type of support group might be beneficial.  Your cancer center or oncologist should be able to give you some direction.  I wouldn't take the PA's comment as the final word!  What she said was very shallow and insensitive.  Your anxiety will not just 'go away'.  Everyone has to come to grips with living with cancer in their own way, and seeking help is a very healthy thing to do.  It is  NOT healthy to remain in that depressed state, so I will pray for you to seek and find the support you need so that you can focus your energy on kicking cancer's butt!!!!                                          ~Sharon

pamstayner's picture
pamstayner
Posts: 111
Joined: Apr 2014

I suffered from depression  before my RCC diagnosis.. at times on two anti-depressent drugs.  I am now on only one, a low "beginner" dose of Zoloft.. and I cannot at this day and time, tell if I ever will go without it...

Here is my 2 cents:

Depression creeps in on you.  It is like a vortex.. a slow slow cyclone circle that just widens and widens.  It encompasses everything around your personal space.  It darkens and distorts your thinking, your will to just move... let alone live!  Pretty soon, it numbs you so much, it is like you are comatose.. you exist, but there is no link to anyone around you.  Left untreated, it will put you down.

That's the deep depression.  Nothing you do will change your children's reaction to your disease.  When we get the cancer diagnosis,  it is an announcement to other people that you have a death sentence... since we did not die right away... they will retreat into a position of denial.  And just keep living their lives (as they should).  When they have to face something, they will.

As for us, the cancer patient, and our loving caregivers, the cancer diagnosis did NOT mean death right away... by God we will do every proceedure,  every drug, and live every day we got... months, years,  and we DO IT.  The disease is in on our mind every day.  Depression makes it front and center... and sometimes the cyclone swirling gets faster and faster, and anxiety kicks in...Xannax time.Get into a discussion group... get on an anti depressent... ANYthing that detracts your mind and body from the FIRST line offense you need to fight this cancer has to be eliminated and fast. You need all your reserves to combat the inner battle you have.

The right anti-depressant and dosage will improve the drepression fog, and you will soon be "your" oldself. Your children will also notice this change. Their reactions may change too..... however, you can only control YOUR space... not theirs..

Know that I am walking the same path as you, as will as many on this board. 

Pam

 

 

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 3183
Joined: Oct 2011

Todd, I think you sound a bit lonely and abanded by your family. Especially after what you have been through. Actually I don't blame you for how you feel. So what can we do to help? Having told us how you feel is a start. You know that I am a strong believer in positive thinking. Lets start there. Looking at the good things I see that you were devoted to your kids and they are doing well. Good job. Your cancer has been addressed and you are having follow ups. That's great. You have been a valued member to this forum offering support and advice to others. Very admirable. The solution to any problem is identifying it and defining it. You've done that too. I suggest that you choose small achievable goals and knock them off one by one. Don't set yourself up for failure.  Then let the momentum build.

I know you have heard me state that I decided a long time ago to avoid negatives in conversation. I don't feel "not bad." I feel "great or super or awesome". It isn't that hard to say it. And learn to mean it. Your PA probably does it too and hopes it will be contagious.

Here is what I understand about your kids. My son lives in the same neighborhood. He has NEVER once called or stopped by and asked me how I am doing in 3 years since my diagnosis! Even when I was told that I was going to die. He and his wife used to come over every sunday for dinner. But we stopped that several years ago because NOT once have they ever invited us over to their house. (which we also gave him money for.) NEVER said, "Hey, we'll take you out for pizza and beer." So I figure, too bad for him. My daughter and grandaughters are probably here too much and he is missing out. But if that is what he wants, then so be it. I know it isn't a genaration gap because my best biker buddy is his age. And my son and I are both old vw enthusiists. We should be doing that together. It's hard but I let it go. Otherwise it might bum me out.

So Todd, stay, share, and set some short term goals. Look forward to enjoying your time left by doing what you want, for yourself. Life is good. You'll get back on track. You have proved you can overcome alot. Fox.

aamdsi
Posts: 284
Joined: Apr 2014

After all you have goe through that you feel this way. 

But, as I have found the last couple days, you are NOT alone.  At least here you find many poeple who care and can help.

I pray that your family realize that you need them.  But in the meantime, try to take a little joy in the small things and lots of joy  in the fact you are a survivor!

Billy's Wife's picture
Billy's Wife
Posts: 52
Joined: Jan 2014

Wow Todd, your ability to articulate your feelings to everyone on this board astounds me!  In my humble opinion you have just taken the first step in fighting back that depression.  Facing a cancer diagnosis has to be one of the hardest challenges this life has to offer.  It requires so much from everyone it touches.  You need to be kind to yourself and tell yourself how courageous you are everytime you go to the doctor or get another test done.  Not just to tell yourself but because you TRULY ARE!  Fox put it so well.  He brought out the positive without dismissing you the way I think that PA did.  As some already know, I was my husband's caregiver.  He passed from RCC 16 months ago. He was 60 years old.  His battle has little to no bearing on yours--that is not why I mention it.  I mention it for a few reasons one is that we have 5 children who range now in age from 24-33. I have learned that the relationship from parent to child and from child to parent are two completely different animals.  Our children, even as adults are our 'children'.  They look to us for unconditional love, guidance and support and I think they crawl into the denial cave when that relationship is threatened.  I was 31 when my mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer.  As a daughter ( I think girls do it differently but not always better)  I did pay attention.  But I still bogged her down with my petty problems.  She never brought it up, she just let me.  I needed her as a Mom for as long as that was possible.  Maybe your kids are holding onto their safety net of the pre-cancer days, so denial is their way to cope.  I wanted my Mom to be there for me, I wasn't seasoned enough to hold her up in any meaningful way. I wasn't ready to let her go.  She died at 63.  My husband went to a zillion appoinments and even at the end I was the only one who wasn't a little shocked.  It was too hard to face for our kids and many friends who were much older than our kids. He went to many appoinments that no one asked about until reminded.  My kids loved their father with all their hearts but they wanted to keep him as the guy they leaned on, went to Jets games with and called to share a joke.  They didn't want to hear that it might end.  Even now they are busy with young lives.  They try but they really can't help me.  I am the one who lost my pal.  I am the one they want to continue to lean on.  Life is hard. 

And now the other part of why I mention that my husband had RCC is that I am struggling with depression too.  I lost my best bud, my confidente, my partner in crime when needing to discuss those 'rotten' (LOL) kids!  Just almost a month ago my father died too.  Granted he was 86 but grief is grief and too much is a bummer! I also had to retire at the end of my husband's battle because of a VERY  bad boss.  All these life changing adjustments take their toll.  I have been seeing a therapist for a while.  It really does help.  Like this board you can let your hair down and no one will criticize you for it.  My doctor prescribed Xanax for me a while ago too.  I use it sparingly but it does help!

This is just a thought but maybe if you can express yourself, even a little to your kids maybe they'll be able to step up a little more.  Maybe not but you won't know unless you try.  If they can't try not to take it personally.  I bet they have no idea that they are hurting you.  Think about talking to someone, think about getting medication.  You deserve the best treatment you can get!  In my book all of you, on this board are heroes.  I just wish cancer would go away with a shot one day sooooooon!!!

I will say some prayers for you!  I applaud your courage!

Arleen

twinthings's picture
twinthings
Posts: 409
Joined: Jun 2013

Hi Todd,

I love that you brought this to us, for discussion.  I can hear the pain in your words and talking about it will absolutely help you, I promise!  Here's why...you are not alone.  You will hear, and have heard, so many parents our age with mirror image situations, just different circumstances.  I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this.  Your younger son saying he needs space from you tells me he has his own issues.  Whether induced by your cancer diagnosis or something else, if he wants space, give him space.   As much as it hurts your heart, it's just the easier, softer way.  Maybe he'll come around, maybe he won't.  But I am a firm believer, there will come a day, our kids will wish they'd made time for us.  Sadly, it's usually too late. 

A quick story; my brother left his wife of 23 years, whom he loved, respected and admired but found he just wasn't in love with anymore, and hadn't been for years.  His son was in the Army and daughter had just gone off to college.  As far as the kids knew, their parents were very much in love.  They appeared to adore each other, so the shock of him up and walking out on the marriage devastated his daughter.  She told him he was never ever welcome in her life, to lose her number, I hate your f'n guts...it gets worse.  Initially, he tried calling her, texting her, writing her letters; to no avail.  She didn't speak to him for over two years.  Not one word.  He made no further attempts to call her.  He gave her the space she needed.   He simply texted "I love you" at various times over the next couple years.  Once or twice a month.  He never forgot, set his alarm in fact.  But there was never a single response from her.  Not one...for over 2 years.  A little bit of him died each time there was no 'ding', signaling a reply.  Finally, after much perserverance, almost immediately after hitting 'send', a long waited for ding.  Her response..."I love you too".  Now, a year later, they are as close as ever.  My point is, all you can do is tell them you love them.  Even if they don't want to hear it or say it back.  Tell them anyway.  It will pay off.

Perhaps your younger son living with your ex-wife has something to do with his animosity towards you.  I don't have an ex but I know plenty who do and it seems more often than not, exes tend to influence the kids negativly against the other parent. 

As for your older son, once they take a wife, that's all she wrote.  She being the operative word.  You've probably heard the saying, a daughter is a daughter her whole life, a son is a son till he takes a wife.  I can attest to that.  My children are 29, one boy and one girl.  He and his dad have always been particularly close.  From the time our son was 2, his dad would give him a hammer and nail and a 2x4 and together, they would work in the garage.  Trying to hammer those nails into that 2x4 kept bubba busy and dad could do his work.  They were always piddling in the garage.  By high school, together they had rebuilt and repainted a couple different Jeeps and a pick-up truck.  Still piddling in the garage.  Before long, bubba was an adult and the two of them would sit out at our place at the lake and have a few beers together or go shoot pool and have a few.  They rode their Harley's, took turns driving the boat, pulling each other skiing.  That all but stopped when he got married.  His wife saw to it.  My hubby has had an incredibly hard time with our sons distance and takes it very personally.  It breaks my heart for my hubby, he feels like he lost his best friend.  Our daughter works several states away but when she makes it home for a few days or a week, we might see her once, twice if we're lucky.  At this age, their friends are still more important to them, than mom and dad.  They love us and would do anything for us.  They're just too busy for us right now...still.

As for how they dealt with my cancer, they cried with me, came to hospital for surgery, called and came to check on me afterwards and sent flowers.  But now, it's really not discussed.  I don't talk about it with anybody except you guys.  For one, I know my kids don't want to hear about it.  Out of sight out of mind.  It's over and done with, move on.  I think that's a normal response because there's no way for them to know the fear and anquish I live with daily.  I don't and won't put that on them.  So, while it seems my children are uncaring and insensitive to what I am going thru, it's only because I protect them from what's going on inside, emotionally.  That's my fault, not theirs.  They think I'm hunky dory, but I know differently. 

I do think a large part of this is normal.  I don't have my own experience with my parents, so I don't know how I would have been with them, in my twenties.  It does seem as tho, of all our friends with adult children, the ones who see their children regularly are those whose children are still requiring some level of financial support.  Our children were financially independant upon leaving the house at 18.  They really don't NEED us.  We would just like them to WANT us a bit more often and to do so without a guilt trip. 

I hope knowing you aren't alone helps.  It has helped my husband and he isn't taking it as personally, since talking to his buddies only to hear similar stories. 

Hang in there, Todd.  Sounds like you've been a great dad and I bet if someone asked them, they'd concur.  Maybe just text a simple "I love you", every so often.  Eventually, I bet it will pay off. 

Sindy

Karen0074
Posts: 64
Joined: Apr 2014

Todd, speak to your dr, antidepressants do help and can make you feel so much better. I think you are fab and I am very grateful for your advice. (((hugs))).

 

karen x

a_oaklee
Posts: 489
Joined: Nov 2013

Todd.  Thankyou so much for reaching out and sharing your feelings.  I also appreciate everyone else who has written and shared their story and helpful ideas.  What a wonderful group of people we have here. 

It sounds to me like you are currently experiencing a bout of depression that has been ongoing since your diagnosis.  Obviously you are aware that everyone goes through it when faced with a cancer diagnosis, but you wonder how long it will last.  My best advice that I can give is to tell you that this is very normal, but that everyone is an individual with their own circumstances, personalities, support network etc..  I think you have to ask yourself if these feelings are getting in the way of your daily living.  In other words, sleeping too much, not socializing, not eating etc..  Are you tired of feeling the way you do?  Do you think you need help?  I read somewhere that at least 25% of cancer survivors are medically treated for depression.  Frankly, I would think the number would be higher.  You can google depression following a cancer diagnosis and come up with all kinds of articles with helpful advice.  I'm a caregiver person, and I did this for me.  I did not have the will to do the things it said to do, like socializing more, exercising, blah blah blah.  If you find you can't get feeling better, then talk with your doctor.  A doctor will look at medications and lab values too.  Surprisingly, low hemoglobin, low thyroid, medication side-effects can all be part of the problem.  Frankly, I think it's best to take an antidepressant for awhile.  Doesn't mean it's forever.  I also think it's very helpful to talk with a psychologist (hopefully a good one with experience).  A person can get stuck in depressed thinking and everything is skewed, distorted, and a therapist can help you see things from a different healthier perspective.  Remember that what works for one person may not work for another. 

Re adult kids:  You sound like a very good father, and frankly, your kids sound normal to me.  That doesn't mean you don't miss them, want more, and feel lonely or abandoned.  Twin Things gave you some wonderful advice re adult kids.  Basically be there for them, but give them space.  My kid has finally gotten into a rhythm with me where he calls about once a week while he is commuting.  I guess he has nothing else to do at the moment.  But it works for me.  I remember being that age and life was busy and hectic.  No time for parents...  This generation wants to text and not talk.  But I digress.  I almost forgot to mention that they connect with eachother via FB.  One thing I know about kids, is that everything is a phase.  (probably with us too).  I would bet that all of this will turnaround, given time.  

My husbands cancer diagnosis has caused us both to reflect on our lives and take inventory.  We contemplate the past and the future, successes and failures, and get stuck on lost opportunities.  Our lives won't ever be the same and some of what we planned is never going to happen.  I know we went through a time of mourning, which from what I have read is quite normal.  Now we are at the point of trying to formulate a new lifestyle.  Cancer sucks, to put it bluntly. 

I encourage you to try to formulate a plan that will work for you.  It's kind of trial and error.  I have complete faith (because you wrote here) that you will get through this.

Best wishes, Annie

todd121's picture
todd121
Posts: 1425
Joined: Dec 2012

I'm overcome with gratitude for all your replies which I read carefully. It helped me tremendously. Thank you, thank you!

As I posted yesterday, I had had an anxiety attack that had been going on for a couple of hours. It went away around noon. Around 5pm it came back, and I was having other symptoms that made me really nervous (tightness in my chest, breathing too fast, dizziness). I decided I ought to go to the ER and check it out. I spent nearly 4 hours in the ER. The doc did blood work and an EKG and said everything looked ok, that it was probably just a panic attack as I thought.

I'm traveling to Oklahoma tomorrow to see my family. I think that's what is stressing me out. My brother and sister both have serious alcohol and drug problems and are putting a big financial and nerve strain on my mom and it makes me both sad and furious with them. I won't go into all the details of the family dysfunction. Suffice it to say it's a real mess. I'm going mainly to see my mom and take her out to celebrate mother's day. I'll also travel around the state and see my birth dad (who just got out of the hospital) and my adopted dad (who has had a stroke and can't communicate very well) and my favorite aunt (who is also having very serious health issues). My mom is overwhelmed with my brother and sister's problems. It's always been like that since we were small. I'm sure this is why I probably look to my children perhaps in a way that isn't even healthy expecting their support. Fortunately, I've been able to keep myself back and I think I need to keep doing that. I'm doing the right thing. It is good that they are taking care of themselves.

My boss drove me to the hospital and I thought I might need a ride home so I texted my sons. Both were responsive and obviously care about how I'm doing. My older son sent me a video of their new dog while I was getting my EKG. Somehow he always seems to know how to do something that is just really right. I have two great kids. I'm absolutely ok with how I raised them. Very few regrets there. What I screwed up, I screwed up because I was trying to do some other good thing, or because I just couldn't do any better.

Thanks again everyone. It really helped to read your wise advice and your stories about your own families and struggles with depression and anxiety.

Best to you all.

Todd

Srashedb
Posts: 482
Joined: Dec 2013

we have 2 sons; 33 and 37. We have 2 granddaughters and a grandson on the way. The daughters-in-law are night and day; the younger one never misses a birthday, holiday and does not let a week go by without checking on my husband's health.

the other daughter-in-law has never once reached out either before or after my husband's illness. She never called when I was losing my mom 3 years ago and nada after she passed away. Never a thank you for any gift; in fact, we don't have her phone number. Numerous gifts to the baby to be have not been acknowledged.

The youngest son was very available when his dad had surgeries, stayed with us when needed; the oldest totally absent. 

I am not depressed by this but extremely disappointed; the behavior seems to be unique to this generation and it is spoiled and entitled. We were not raised like this and we didn't raise them this way either.

As I told my oldest son last summer when his dad was in the hospital for 16 days and losing weight with the small bowel obstruction, this is the first and last time that I will ask for your help. As I spent long nights alone and afraid, they drove by our house to spen 5 days with her parents. 

Sorry to sound negative but your post really hit a note today; glad that you are feeling better. Hope that Oklahoma has cooled down some.

sarah

todd121's picture
todd121
Posts: 1425
Joined: Dec 2012

Hi Sarah. At one point last year I was feeling a lot of jealousy with regards to how I imagined my son and his wife were spending a lot of time with her mother and father. Later I was talking to my daughter-in-law, some what complaining about my son's attitude of not returning my calls or calling to just say hello and she told me her parents are constantly giving her a hard time about the exact same thing. Then I actually had a short conversation with her mom, and she told me her daughter never calls her and how upsetting it was for her. I was really actually surprised that what I imagined was going on with them wasn't the way I imagined it (at least completely).

Still, I do get jealous and disappointed when I hear about my son and daughter-in-law meeting her father or mother, or taking a trip with them (which they never do with me). But I also don't really push them, don't really invite them very much, and have noticed that I really don't know what's going on with all of them too much because we don't talk often.

It is hard not seeing them as much as I want to, but we live a good distance away (through heavy traffic) and they are busy, and really so am I. I have to remember that they don't know what I want or need unless I open my mouth and say something. Expecting them to read my mind hasn't worked very well. But then sometimes I need to stay back and just take care of myself. Hard to know which is the right amount of which, isn't it?

The loneliness is hard. I divorced my wife 5 years ago and live alone now. I actually miss her and them. The only person living with me right now is a 28-yo guy that rents a room from me. He's really kind of a jerk most of the time. I keep him around to help with my mortgage, certainly not for the company! :)

Thanks for writing. It helps to hear how you're doing. I'm so glad you wrote.

Todd

a_oaklee
Posts: 489
Joined: Nov 2013

I'm glad you are feeling better.  I hope that your visit with the family will be pleasant.  Have a safe trip.

Annie

Limelife50's picture
Limelife50
Posts: 476
Joined: Nov 2011

Hope you are able to wrap your mind around your condition soon  since i know first hand what it like to be the other person that being the one with cancer.For me sorry everyone i no longer think about my upcoming scans do not get me wrong i am scared to death to die from this disease but yet i am able to function with out giving it too much of a thought hey i got 52 years look good feel good sorry there is no gaurantee in life.Oh by the way just got the results of my CT scan last week and guess what HA HA i am NED so for the last couple of days i have been shopping for a Harley Davidson Street Glide hell cant take my money with me but yet my wife will probabally get my pension which is generous oh and she has said she will never marry again yhea right so i should be picking up my new motorcycle by Tuesday

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 3183
Joined: Oct 2011

Nice choice!

GSRon's picture
GSRon
Posts: 1304
Joined: Jan 2013

Nothing beats a nice bike ride to clear your head.. and get some fresh air... Nice..!

Ron - "I don't want a pickle.. jus wanna ride my motor sickle..."

todd121's picture
todd121
Posts: 1425
Joined: Dec 2012

Do you think there is a connection between kidney cancer and the desire to ride motorcycles? I've been thinking about getting one and you guys are pushing me closer! Smile

Todd

Galrim's picture
Galrim
Posts: 305
Joined: Apr 2013

Hi Todd,

Its obviously a very individual thing as to when or ever the fears and scanxietys dissappear. I can only share my own experiences 4 years down the road.

I had what most likely would be described as a mild depression after my nephrectomy in 2010. And it lasted on...one NED scan after the other. Fears of the future, mildly depressed, scanxiety that kinda overlapped from one scan to the next, being unable to be interested in or taking decisions about anything that was happening after my next scan...my whole life became a 6-month cycle...

After roughly 18 months I had enough. Short and simple. I went to my local cancer survivor network, who offers free therapist sessions with licensed psychologists with extensive experience in counseling cancer patients.

I wont go into all the details of the therapy here as that would comprise a small novel, but the bottom-line was a therapy more ore less targetted towards fear-management. As yourself I had the "Everyone says Im cured and treats me as such, professionals and relatives alike, so why dont I feel that way?" experience.

What I learned was that the fear, depression, the lack of being able to move on,was a natural and logic consequence of having survived cancer.

And I learned that the trick to claiming your life back doesnt lie within getting rid of the fear. In short I was taught how to accept it, kinda embrace it almost, but also to put myself in the drivers seat and not let it dictate my life.

One line I still recall everytime the anxiety kicks in that my therapist said was:"Dont hide your fear, dont supress it, greet it once everyday for five minutes but then ask it to piss off because its allotted 5 minutes are spent and you really dont have time for it"...

To get to that stage took a mental effort from me and some professionel help, but now Im there...scanxiety still kicks in, but from being a fulltime thing its now down to just being the waiting time from the scan to getting the result, and that is just as it should be...

Hope the above is an experience you can use for something...

/G

aamdsi
Posts: 284
Joined: Apr 2014

Only 12 weeks post partial, but I still am terrifed of the whole thing.  They say only 15% chance of coming back, yet that's still 15%. I actually wake upmat night telling myself that dreams are silly - I have cancer.   Every twing, ping or ache scares me that it's returning or I have done something wrong.

i know that I am just being stupid.  I am back into my training, planting my gardens, playing with 2 yr granddaughter, work and all - and feeling fine most of the time.  Yet, sitting quietly somewhere, late at night, watching a dumb ad on TV can bring the fears back in tidal waves.  I try to hide it from my family, my husband's father is on the last months/weeks of Alzhimeirs (Spelling) and he has been there for both his father and mother through it all.  So adding to his stress in not my plan.  My daughter has just gotten her feet under her and I don't wany to burden her.  so.....

I see my surgeon next week, just office visit - no scans.  Blood tests an all that, I am not really sure what else.

I feel so alone.

But I think I will try your little "5 minute" idea, Galrim.  Can't hurt, right?  Anyway, it is a beautiful Memorial day here.  Running shoes and gardens are calling.  And for a few moments I will push the C demon back into its cell. 

Djinnie's picture
Djinnie
Posts: 945
Joined: Apr 2013

aamsdi,

It is still pretty early days from diagnosis and surgery, you are bound to be still in a state of shock, and finding it difficult to process all of this. Having a cancer diagnosis shakes your world to its foundations. Unfortunately we tend to dwell on the negative and ignore the positives. There may be a 15% chance of reoccurrence but there is also 85% chance of remaining clear, that is a very high percentage. Remember stress is our worst enemy and cancers best friend, try to concentrate on the good chance that you will have a cancer clear future to look forward to.

All the best:)

Djinnie x

APny's picture
APny
Posts: 1971
Joined: Mar 2014

Aamdsi, you just about summed up my feelings exactly. Galrim, so glad the therapist helped you. I’m going to try the 5 minute thing myself because the anxiety and depression are just awful.

aamdsi
Posts: 284
Joined: Apr 2014

Thank you, djinnie.  do try to find the bright side since feeling sorry for myself isn't my style.  Hopefully time will lessen the worry and stress. 

Apny, maybe if we "team up" we can beat the shadows away.  8-). 

Just am glad I founs this site. Helps to have others "around"

safado
Posts: 18
Joined: May 2014

So, for the lucky 85% - does life become a series of 6-month waiting games??

 

Anxiety and depression - that sums it up nicely.

 

It's going to take some doing to get used to "time-bomb" living.  The new paranoia awaits...

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 3183
Joined: Oct 2011

It is a shock to be diagnosed with cancer. There are no do-overs. But here you are. You have a good prognosis. So with more time you will be able to go on living. You'll be ok.

safado, that is how you do this. Otherwise you are only wasting time on the negative thoughts. But believe me, you will never stop thinking about cancer. If you are going to live or die, move forward. You have to learn that you are living with cancer. Not dieing from cancer. It makes all the difference in the world. But takes practice.

safado
Posts: 18
Joined: May 2014

Foxhd/Gilram - 

Thank you.  I learn best being slapped upside the head.

I'm 4 weeks out from the radical nephrectomy.

Brain MRI scan next week.

PET scan the week after.

Hell - I haven't even had a six-month wait yet - more like a six week wait.

I can't help but wonder why they don't do the PET scan BEFORE the surgery.  If I light up like a Chirstmas tree I'm going to be some kind of pissed having wasted time and pain on the surgery.

I guess I'm in the P.O.'d stage of processing all this crap.

thaxter's picture
thaxter
Posts: 124
Joined: Jan 2014

I had my radical open nephrectomy last September and was stage IV right out of the gate because of a secondary tumor on my adrenal gland.  Even though my urologist was "cautiously optimistic" I was not too surprised when my first post op scan in January showed small lung mets.

But I have felt so much better after the nepnrectomy--my appetite returned, I gained weight, had more energy, etc.  So I don't regret for a minute having the kidney out since most of 2012 and 2013 I was pretty sick and we had no idea why.

I've got my fourth CT scan of the year next week--January 6 was initial diagnosis of lung mets, Feb 24 was admission for IL-2, April 21 was first post IL-2 scan which showed a halt in progression and if my scan next week is good I guess we will schedule another round of IL-2 this summer. 

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