Anxiety due to Cancer

Posted by Bob, Volunteer Mentor @grandpabob, Sep 30, 2019

I am sure there are very few of us diagnosed with cancer that do not, or have not suffered from some form of anxiety. Anxiety, for me started at the time of diagnosis, Large B Cell Lymphoma, the initial shock of that knowledge was the trigger. It is not that it occupied every minute of the day, with everything else that accompanies cancer treatment, there was more than enough happening to occupy the hours. I also recognized that the triggers changed as I moved along the path of cancer care and treatment. Anxiety also led to some wakefulness which led to fatigue, other common side effects.

Some of the triggers of anxiety for me were: How early do we need to leave the house to make it to the appointment on time. Will I have any side effects from this session? Are the sounds of the IV pumps during chemotherapy going to bother me today? (interestingly, those pumps made me very anxious almost all the time.)

To combat anxiety, I took the following actions to lessen this symptom of cancer: Exercise, when I had the energy I walked out of doors, outdoor distractions helped to focus my mind on what I was doing in the present. I meditated and used “apps” such as “Calm” to take my mind off the stresses. When I could, I took advantage of a counselor who coached me to discuss how I was feeling about things.

Are you undergoing any anxiety? What works for you to reduce your anxiety levels?

I started 3 years ago with pulsating tinnitus in both ears 24/7. I had anxiety and one panic attacks after another. I would walk the street in front of my house when ever they occurred which was usually at night. And yes, I thought about suicide. I was weak. I saw a psychiatrist and started on Klonopin. and Paxil. I could not handle it on my own, the noise was so loud. I will b praying for u. Keep posting

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@louise73 – Welcome to Mayo Connect. Yesterday marked my 22 year anniversary with Lung Cancer. Although I was prone to anxiety attacks from the time that I was in my early 20's nothing beat my attacks when I was told that I had lung cancer. I use to dry heave myself around town. Anxiety and panic attacks can certainly manifest itself in so many different ways. I'm with you when your thoughts turned to wanting them to stop. What kind of cancer precipitated these attacks?

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@louise73

I started 3 years ago with pulsating tinnitus in both ears 24/7. I had anxiety and one panic attacks after another. I would walk the street in front of my house when ever they occurred which was usually at night. And yes, I thought about suicide. I was weak. I saw a psychiatrist and started on Klonopin. and Paxil. I could not handle it on my own, the noise was so loud. I will b praying for u. Keep posting

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@louise73 – Thank you for your prayers. I am so glad you decided to get professional help with your symptoms. Consulting professionals I find is most beneficial when we encounter the unknown. I encourage you to continue to reach out on Mayo Clinic Connect as there are many Connect participants that are willing to share experiences.
Are you new to Connect?

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I have a tumor in my right cavernous sinus. They "think" it is a meningioma ( slow growing but large enough now for double vision, partial loss of site, extreme headaches of course and facial pain). My anxiety is that initially I was told by the oncologist that he would see me after the biopsy. So I mentally prepared for that but the neurosurgeon said it was inoperable only can do radiation. I did. 9 months later it has not shrunk and I sought a second opinion and here is where my anxiety comes in: this doctor said he would do surgery but not until surgery became less life threatening than to leave it. This he said would be in about 5 years. I've been treated for cluster headaches for over 7 years and it wasn't working so my very good headache specialist ordered yet another MRI and there was the tumor surrounding the carotid artery and sitting on the optic nerve and 2 other cranial nerves. It doesn't feel natural to wait while you know something is growing in your brain and one is in constant pain and my eye site is so bad.

More anxiety ( and some relief) by joining a Facebook group where many people where having the same experience I am; varying opinions and "facts" about this type of tumor such as radiation rarely works. Others in small town Iowa are having successful surgery.

I've learned to do relaxation with a great app and I guess I will keep seeking opinions until I feel comfortable. The oncologist I originally saw did say that a biopsy was needed because although "it was acting like a meningioma it didn't have all of the characteristics ." I know this is a cancer site so please excuse me if I am on the wrong site; I just signed up today, but the neurosurgeon said that it was too dangerous to even do a biopsy so we don't know that it is a meningioma or if it is cancerous. All I know is my eye sight is getting worse as are the headaches ( and I am sorry to complain but they can't possibly get much worse).
Anything definitive as far as an answer would relieve the extreme anxiety I'm having right now not knowing.
Thank you for listening.
Julie

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@julieannarcand– Welcome to Mayo Connect! Connect covers a wide, wide range of illnesses, syndromes, aches and pains, and diets, among other topics. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish that I could hug you for all the news and operations that you have had to endure. I'm a lung cancer survivor, 22 years. I have a type of cancer that makes more than one nodule at a time and can be in both lungs and can occur frequently so I get having one bad set of news on top of another.
I have also have had a lot of migraines. Anxiety, unfortunately is one main component that comes with a "maybe" cancer diagnoses. What have you done in the past to help you through these horrible and painful periods of stress?

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@merpreb

@julieannarcand– Welcome to Mayo Connect! Connect covers a wide, wide range of illnesses, syndromes, aches and pains, and diets, among other topics. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish that I could hug you for all the news and operations that you have had to endure. I'm a lung cancer survivor, 22 years. I have a type of cancer that makes more than one nodule at a time and can be in both lungs and can occur frequently so I get having one bad set of news on top of another.
I have also have had a lot of migraines. Anxiety, unfortunately is one main component that comes with a "maybe" cancer diagnoses. What have you done in the past to help you through these horrible and painful periods of stress?

Jump to this post

Thank you so much for your reply and for allowing me into the group not knowing if my tumor is cancerous. I have a rare spinal condition called Klippel-Feil syndrome and at 25 had major surgery to insert 2 long screws through C2 up through C1. And 7 more surgeries in the next 7 years. The pain in my neck greatly intensified and I went through a pain clinic where they actually advised pain medication. I am now 52 and slowly the Migraines got worse and worse until I began having extreme facial pain then swelling and trigeminal pain all on the right. The Migraine specialist treated me for migraines and cluster headaches atypical. So basically a constant dose of pain medication that I and they realized was better for me to just take the lower constant dose than to take pain medication when I needed it. So that has been going on for 20 years. I have been injected with botox, lidocaine, take aimovig for migraine and relpax daily now because all of the neurosurgeons believe it is not cluster headaches but headaches due to the location of the tumor. Although I still suffer from migraines and they all think that is separate from the tumor. The tumor was found last November and I went through radiation and am still exhausted, still in pain and losing hair. I am trying to learn acceptance because I joined a Facebook group that was very helpful in some ways of hearing other's struggle with the doctor's varying and opposing opinions but also unnerving because many people having the same tumor have had successful surgery and are out of pain! I'm in the Seattle area where one expects the best of care and I am told it's inoperable- until death makes surgery the only choice meanwhile a woman in small town Iowa had successful surgery. I think I have to come to terms with this tumor not being the linear way my spine surgeries were. Thank you for listening and I am sorry for anyone who suffers from chronic migraines, cluster, tumor or cancer…and any disease ! Hugs back to you and thank you.

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@julieannarcand

Thank you so much for your reply and for allowing me into the group not knowing if my tumor is cancerous. I have a rare spinal condition called Klippel-Feil syndrome and at 25 had major surgery to insert 2 long screws through C2 up through C1. And 7 more surgeries in the next 7 years. The pain in my neck greatly intensified and I went through a pain clinic where they actually advised pain medication. I am now 52 and slowly the Migraines got worse and worse until I began having extreme facial pain then swelling and trigeminal pain all on the right. The Migraine specialist treated me for migraines and cluster headaches atypical. So basically a constant dose of pain medication that I and they realized was better for me to just take the lower constant dose than to take pain medication when I needed it. So that has been going on for 20 years. I have been injected with botox, lidocaine, take aimovig for migraine and relpax daily now because all of the neurosurgeons believe it is not cluster headaches but headaches due to the location of the tumor. Although I still suffer from migraines and they all think that is separate from the tumor. The tumor was found last November and I went through radiation and am still exhausted, still in pain and losing hair. I am trying to learn acceptance because I joined a Facebook group that was very helpful in some ways of hearing other's struggle with the doctor's varying and opposing opinions but also unnerving because many people having the same tumor have had successful surgery and are out of pain! I'm in the Seattle area where one expects the best of care and I am told it's inoperable- until death makes surgery the only choice meanwhile a woman in small town Iowa had successful surgery. I think I have to come to terms with this tumor not being the linear way my spine surgeries were. Thank you for listening and I am sorry for anyone who suffers from chronic migraines, cluster, tumor or cancer…and any disease ! Hugs back to you and thank you.

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@julieannarcand Hi, and welcome and please don’t apologize for anything! Are the doctors you’re seeing at a major medical center in Seattle? Maybe get a second opinion. Are you scheduled for regular follow ups on your condition? What have the doctors told you to watch for?

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Have you seen the Member Spotlights on Connect: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/about-connect/
This week features fellow member @grandpabob. Get to know a bit more about Bob, what brought him to Connect, how he finds balance in life and some unexpected things too.
– Don’t Expect What You Don’t Inspect : Meet @grandpabob https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/about-connect/newsfeed-post/dont-expect-what-you-dont-inspect-meet-grandpabob/

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@azkidney57

I have always been able to deal with problems in the past. I have been “strong” and confident I would persevere whatever obstacle lay ahead. One of the biggest challenges was my dads illness. I was living in another state when I received the news that my dad had suffered a stroke. I returned home and dealt with selling his house, assuming power of attorney, taking care of him after his hospitalization. He had a second stroke and had to be placed in a nursing facility where he was eventually placed on hospice. He died in the nursing home. That was 9 years ago. That was very difficult for me but I made it through somehow. Two friends died this year from different cancers. I had followed their struggles. May 2019 I had a nephrectomy for RCC. Now it’s been 5 months since my surgery. I have changed as a person from this experience. It was life altering as it is for everyone. Cancer makes a huge impact on ones life. When my dad became ill I became depressed. But I knew I had to be strong for my mom who was struggling. My friends were each struggling with her cancers and that depressed me but I remained strong to be there as a could for support. When I became ill and had surgery I felt lost. Another challenge life dished out for me. After my surgery I felt panicked. The tumor was gone but I was left with a cancer diagnosis. The panic quelled down I went back to work. But my life is not the same any more. I am depressed again and I also have anxiety. I am often irritated by things that never bothered me before. People in general annoy me at times. Certain people I work with annoy me beyond words! I tend to avoid those people. I am losing some friends but it’s okay because I don’t like them anymore. I have changed. I am evolving into another version of myself. Since I am more of a private person only a select few know about my cancer surgery and that includes family. So some people are confused with my new “behaviors” which manifests as “avoidance”. I just can’t be around certain people right now. The man I had been dating flat out told me he couldn’t deal with my being sick and he walked out of my life. I didnt care! I don’t blame him. I told him it was fine and I felt relief because I wouldn’t have deal with him anymore. I knew that my cancer diagnosis had scared him and he couldn’t deal with it. I feel most comfortable with a few friends and very close family members and my dog. I want things to be simple from now on. Lately I find I can’t stand crying infants, small children, teenagers, and dramatic adults! I don’t like to be in the general public because there are too many annoying people. I don’t like my cancer center and most of the staff. I like my new oncologist. Don’t like his nurse. There is a nurse I trust at my cancer center she is a nurse navigator and she helps me contact my cancer team. She is like my “go to”person. I need to be more involved with my PCP and I don’t particularly like him or his staff. Nothing personal. There are just too many people for me right now and I need distance. I just recently learned how “smothered” I feel at times. I also really hate it when people ask me how I am because depending on what’s going on it can differ greatly. On my way to my MRI I ran into an acquaintance and she stopped to talk. She asked me so many questions! I wanted to scream! I was on my way for an MRI I had been dreading. I was full of scanxiety and I wanted her to disappear! I don’t feel the need or desire to explain my business to anyone! I am having trouble sleeping again because I am worried about my scan results. Then the cycle will repeat. I have hospital bills to pay and I owe thousands of dollars that my insurance isn’t covering so I have deal with that. Cancer is expensive. I will take one day at a time and hope for the best! That is all any of us can do! I am grateful I am not worse off because I know I could be. I need to address my depression/ anxiety because I don’t want to get out of hand. I am grateful for this site because I receive good advise and ideas from people who have been there. No BS here. I appreciate that emmensely!

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Good morning @azkidney57, Your very genuine self disclosure statement is a great step in the process of letting go. You are evaluating your life. This is a perfectly transparent example of what it means when you LET GO. Many of us have trouble accepting the realities that emerge e.g. your sensitivity to crying babies.

My decision to simplify my life was both disturbing and rewarding. Last February I made the decision to sell my home of 20 years and to release my hold on “things”. I gave away almost everything in my home….to friends, family and customers. Everything I own would now fit in a very small dresser. And I moved 1500 miles away from my family and many friends.

I turned the corner when my role on Connect was upgraded, if you will, to Mentor. I have found my new opportunity to make an impact, to use my years of experience, 77 to be exact, to assist others somewhere along this journey of letting go, moving on and living life with an anticipation of some rocking, joyful days, May you be safe and protected…..Chris

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@azkidney57

I have always been able to deal with problems in the past. I have been “strong” and confident I would persevere whatever obstacle lay ahead. One of the biggest challenges was my dads illness. I was living in another state when I received the news that my dad had suffered a stroke. I returned home and dealt with selling his house, assuming power of attorney, taking care of him after his hospitalization. He had a second stroke and had to be placed in a nursing facility where he was eventually placed on hospice. He died in the nursing home. That was 9 years ago. That was very difficult for me but I made it through somehow. Two friends died this year from different cancers. I had followed their struggles. May 2019 I had a nephrectomy for RCC. Now it’s been 5 months since my surgery. I have changed as a person from this experience. It was life altering as it is for everyone. Cancer makes a huge impact on ones life. When my dad became ill I became depressed. But I knew I had to be strong for my mom who was struggling. My friends were each struggling with her cancers and that depressed me but I remained strong to be there as a could for support. When I became ill and had surgery I felt lost. Another challenge life dished out for me. After my surgery I felt panicked. The tumor was gone but I was left with a cancer diagnosis. The panic quelled down I went back to work. But my life is not the same any more. I am depressed again and I also have anxiety. I am often irritated by things that never bothered me before. People in general annoy me at times. Certain people I work with annoy me beyond words! I tend to avoid those people. I am losing some friends but it’s okay because I don’t like them anymore. I have changed. I am evolving into another version of myself. Since I am more of a private person only a select few know about my cancer surgery and that includes family. So some people are confused with my new “behaviors” which manifests as “avoidance”. I just can’t be around certain people right now. The man I had been dating flat out told me he couldn’t deal with my being sick and he walked out of my life. I didnt care! I don’t blame him. I told him it was fine and I felt relief because I wouldn’t have deal with him anymore. I knew that my cancer diagnosis had scared him and he couldn’t deal with it. I feel most comfortable with a few friends and very close family members and my dog. I want things to be simple from now on. Lately I find I can’t stand crying infants, small children, teenagers, and dramatic adults! I don’t like to be in the general public because there are too many annoying people. I don’t like my cancer center and most of the staff. I like my new oncologist. Don’t like his nurse. There is a nurse I trust at my cancer center she is a nurse navigator and she helps me contact my cancer team. She is like my “go to”person. I need to be more involved with my PCP and I don’t particularly like him or his staff. Nothing personal. There are just too many people for me right now and I need distance. I just recently learned how “smothered” I feel at times. I also really hate it when people ask me how I am because depending on what’s going on it can differ greatly. On my way to my MRI I ran into an acquaintance and she stopped to talk. She asked me so many questions! I wanted to scream! I was on my way for an MRI I had been dreading. I was full of scanxiety and I wanted her to disappear! I don’t feel the need or desire to explain my business to anyone! I am having trouble sleeping again because I am worried about my scan results. Then the cycle will repeat. I have hospital bills to pay and I owe thousands of dollars that my insurance isn’t covering so I have deal with that. Cancer is expensive. I will take one day at a time and hope for the best! That is all any of us can do! I am grateful I am not worse off because I know I could be. I need to address my depression/ anxiety because I don’t want to get out of hand. I am grateful for this site because I receive good advise and ideas from people who have been there. No BS here. I appreciate that emmensely!

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@azkidney57 You're absolutely right that cancer puts a different color on your life! Some days that tint is pretty dark, some days not quite so. Do you find that, also? I have read your post a couple of times. I am presently going through my fourth type of cancer, and just this morning had another kidney biopsy before they decide which treatment plan to go with. That has nothing to do with your situation, except that I can relate! We each have the power to choose who we want in our lives. That's a heady feeling but it comes with responsibility too. There's nothing wrong in wanting to limit your exposure to certain types of people and we shouldn't have to explain. We have to do what is healthiest for us physically, emotionally, and mentally. There are some who will get it and many who won't. That's not our problem. We already have enough to deal with on our plates, right? Take care of yourself in whatever manner that maybe. Those who are our true friends and supporters will be there for us on the bright and dark days. You sound like a very giving person, having been there for your dad, your mom, and your friends. Unfortunately, sometimes that same support is not there for us when we need it. You deserve to surround yourself with those who will hold you up and lend you a shoulder or ear. I'm glad that you have found people here at Mayo Connect that you can share with, as we do try to make sure we are supportive for everyone

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@artscaping

Good morning @azkidney57, Your very genuine self disclosure statement is a great step in the process of letting go. You are evaluating your life. This is a perfectly transparent example of what it means when you LET GO. Many of us have trouble accepting the realities that emerge e.g. your sensitivity to crying babies.

My decision to simplify my life was both disturbing and rewarding. Last February I made the decision to sell my home of 20 years and to release my hold on “things”. I gave away almost everything in my home….to friends, family and customers. Everything I own would now fit in a very small dresser. And I moved 1500 miles away from my family and many friends.

I turned the corner when my role on Connect was upgraded, if you will, to Mentor. I have found my new opportunity to make an impact, to use my years of experience, 77 to be exact, to assist others somewhere along this journey of letting go, moving on and living life with an anticipation of some rocking, joyful days, May you be safe and protected…..Chris

Jump to this post

Chris thank you for your thoughts it made sense to me. I am evaluating my life! I am taking stock. A man I had been dating left me but it was a relief! I don’t need negativity right now. I thought his departure would make me sad but it did not. I am moving on!

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@gingerw

@azkidney57 You're absolutely right that cancer puts a different color on your life! Some days that tint is pretty dark, some days not quite so. Do you find that, also? I have read your post a couple of times. I am presently going through my fourth type of cancer, and just this morning had another kidney biopsy before they decide which treatment plan to go with. That has nothing to do with your situation, except that I can relate! We each have the power to choose who we want in our lives. That's a heady feeling but it comes with responsibility too. There's nothing wrong in wanting to limit your exposure to certain types of people and we shouldn't have to explain. We have to do what is healthiest for us physically, emotionally, and mentally. There are some who will get it and many who won't. That's not our problem. We already have enough to deal with on our plates, right? Take care of yourself in whatever manner that maybe. Those who are our true friends and supporters will be there for us on the bright and dark days. You sound like a very giving person, having been there for your dad, your mom, and your friends. Unfortunately, sometimes that same support is not there for us when we need it. You deserve to surround yourself with those who will hold you up and lend you a shoulder or ear. I'm glad that you have found people here at Mayo Connect that you can share with, as we do try to make sure we are supportive for everyone

Jump to this post

Ginger everything you wrote rings true! It is the kind of validation I need. Thank you for “getting” it! This site has been a great comfort for me. I am happy I was directed here. Everyone is very supportive and I feel “safe” here.

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I have always been able to deal with problems in the past. I have been “strong” and confident I would persevere whatever obstacle lay ahead. One of the biggest challenges was my dads illness. I was living in another state when I received the news that my dad had suffered a stroke. I returned home and dealt with selling his house, assuming power of attorney, taking care of him after his hospitalization. He had a second stroke and had to be placed in a nursing facility where he was eventually placed on hospice. He died in the nursing home. That was 9 years ago. That was very difficult for me but I made it through somehow. Two friends died this year from different cancers. I had followed their struggles. May 2019 I had a nephrectomy for RCC. Now it’s been 5 months since my surgery. I have changed as a person from this experience. It was life altering as it is for everyone. Cancer makes a huge impact on ones life. When my dad became ill I became depressed. But I knew I had to be strong for my mom who was struggling. My friends were each struggling with her cancers and that depressed me but I remained strong to be there as a could for support. When I became ill and had surgery I felt lost. Another challenge life dished out for me. After my surgery I felt panicked. The tumor was gone but I was left with a cancer diagnosis. The panic quelled down I went back to work. But my life is not the same any more. I am depressed again and I also have anxiety. I am often irritated by things that never bothered me before. People in general annoy me at times. Certain people I work with annoy me beyond words! I tend to avoid those people. I am losing some friends but it’s okay because I don’t like them anymore. I have changed. I am evolving into another version of myself. Since I am more of a private person only a select few know about my cancer surgery and that includes family. So some people are confused with my new “behaviors” which manifests as “avoidance”. I just can’t be around certain people right now. The man I had been dating flat out told me he couldn’t deal with my being sick and he walked out of my life. I didnt care! I don’t blame him. I told him it was fine and I felt relief because I wouldn’t have deal with him anymore. I knew that my cancer diagnosis had scared him and he couldn’t deal with it. I feel most comfortable with a few friends and very close family members and my dog. I want things to be simple from now on. Lately I find I can’t stand crying infants, small children, teenagers, and dramatic adults! I don’t like to be in the general public because there are too many annoying people. I don’t like my cancer center and most of the staff. I like my new oncologist. Don’t like his nurse. There is a nurse I trust at my cancer center she is a nurse navigator and she helps me contact my cancer team. She is like my “go to”person. I need to be more involved with my PCP and I don’t particularly like him or his staff. Nothing personal. There are just too many people for me right now and I need distance. I just recently learned how “smothered” I feel at times. I also really hate it when people ask me how I am because depending on what’s going on it can differ greatly. On my way to my MRI I ran into an acquaintance and she stopped to talk. She asked me so many questions! I wanted to scream! I was on my way for an MRI I had been dreading. I was full of scanxiety and I wanted her to disappear! I don’t feel the need or desire to explain my business to anyone! I am having trouble sleeping again because I am worried about my scan results. Then the cycle will repeat. I have hospital bills to pay and I owe thousands of dollars that my insurance isn’t covering so I have deal with that. Cancer is expensive. I will take one day at a time and hope for the best! That is all any of us can do! I am grateful I am not worse off because I know I could be. I need to address my depression/ anxiety because I don’t want to get out of hand. I am grateful for this site because I receive good advise and ideas from people who have been there. No BS here. I appreciate that emmensely!

REPLY

Hi, @azkidney57 – since you talked about anxiety and depression due to cancer, I've moved your post here to this discussion entitled "Anxiety due to cancer" so that you can connect with others talking about similar situations.

Glad you have connected with @artscaping and @gingerw on what you've shared here with your cancer journey, the evolution of yourself as a person and the new irritations you are discovering post-diagnosis. I'm hoping that members who've participated here like @grandpabob @merpreb @julieannarcand will have some input for you on the depression and anxiety. @parus and @jiffer69 also may have some thoughts for you.

azkidney57, how have you managed your anxiety thus far, particularly at night, when you mentioned it had interfered with your sleep?

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@lisalucier

Hi, @azkidney57 – since you talked about anxiety and depression due to cancer, I've moved your post here to this discussion entitled "Anxiety due to cancer" so that you can connect with others talking about similar situations.

Glad you have connected with @artscaping and @gingerw on what you've shared here with your cancer journey, the evolution of yourself as a person and the new irritations you are discovering post-diagnosis. I'm hoping that members who've participated here like @grandpabob @merpreb @julieannarcand will have some input for you on the depression and anxiety. @parus and @jiffer69 also may have some thoughts for you.

azkidney57, how have you managed your anxiety thus far, particularly at night, when you mentioned it had interfered with your sleep?

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My doctor put me on Clonazepam the smallest dose I take one at night it helps me sleep. I can use more because it is used for panic attacks which I don’t get thank God. I sleep mostly OK but when I am stressed out I tend to wake up around 2 or 3 am. Sometimes I can’t shut my brain down. I am working on trying to distract myself. I have a full time job and that helps. I will be less stressed out when I get my scan results back! Thank you for asking.

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