Emotions and anxiety with a cancer diagnosis: How do you cope?

Posted by glendafl @glendafl, Dec 8, 2023

My emotions and anxiety along with ADHD since the diagnosis of cancer is extremely high.
I’m finding it hard to keep up with day to day stuff, not to mention all the treatments, etc.
What or how do we cope? I’m so tired and I still got to face radiation treatments. I go to counseling weekly and I’m ok a good part of the time. But I’m having trouble staying focused and emotionally charged all the time. Any suggestions?

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@neekie2

Thank you for these words. Wish I would have found this group in January when I first started experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression during chemo. Wasn't sure why I was feeling the way I was until I mentioned it to my Oncologist, who told me that this was VERY normal for folks going through chemo, and she prescribed a mild medication, which has helped me so much!

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Hello @neekie2 and welcome to Mayo Connect. I am glad that you found this forum. Your oncologist was correct. A diagnosis of cancer, and its many treatments often result in anxiety and depression. I'm glad that you found a helpful medication.

On Mayo Connect, we have many discussion groups for different types of cancer. If you would like to connect with others going through treatment for the same type of cancer that you have, I would encourage you to look at all of the cancer discussion groups. Here is the link that will display the cancer support groups, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/groups/?search=Cancer

How long ago were you diagnosed with cancer, @neekie2?

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@rhongirl

@glendafl Just knowing that this is normal can help a great deal. It's like coming to a great boulder in your life's road, and you try, but you can't go around it, can't go above it, and you can't go underneath it . . .you have to go through it. I think, mentally and emotionally, we want to side-step the entire treatment course. . . (we, of course, would physically take another path) . . . but we cannot. Giving yourself more grace, letting yourself know its okay to be anxious (that's part of it), can sometimes take the edge off the worst of it. A person in cancer treatment often has to live moment-by-moment, because we are taking the onslaught of so much chemically, and we aren't quiet sure, even from week to week, how our body will respond to the chemo or radiation or flu, or virus, or infections. There are no check-lists that say our body will do this or that, and doctors can only share what typically happens. . . so, we often have to wait and see. And this can surely cause anxiety.

What helped me was to surround myself with a few good people, ask for help, admit I was anxious, and then let those moments PASS. Mostly, I asked God to help me let those moments pass. And He did. I remember, specifically, one night I was particularly anxious - waking up in bed in a sweat, my heart racing. It was then that the Lord reminded me of the big open Wyoming skies I had watched when I was vacationing a few years prior. I remembered how those big skies would be clear one minute, and then a storm would rage from seemingly nowhere. The sky would be covered in dark, ominous clouds, and it felt unsettling to be almost enveloped by the impending storm clouds above. But here's the good part. . . .those clouds would MOVE overhead, and then they would PASS OVER. It was in that instant of remembering that helped me in the very moment of my anxious thoughts in bed that night. I needed not fight the anxiety, but name it, realize I was anxious, and then be calm to let it pass over me. Our human nature is to fight something, give it all we got, so-to-speak - in fact, you hear that all the time when it comes to cancer - fight it! But I say, take a moment to consider this . . . that we imagine being on the other side of it, and let it pass over - like storm clouds in the sky that move and leave sunshine in its wake. The sky does not storm forever. 🙂 That imagery helped me a great deal that night, and in the months to come. It was certainly more of a spiritual experience, for I taught myself how to rest in those anxious moments, giving it more fully to God to handle, and waiting for the anxiety to pass over, leaving me breathing normally, returning me back to a state of being able to cope again.

Cancer is hard. But you can do it. I read a lot of positive Bible passages out loud, so I could hear myself say them. I filled my mind with good things, and then, in some small way, it helped to balance all the not-so-good things that go along with cancer. I didn't always "feel" positive, but it was good to hear positive things over and over again. We can't always trust our feelings in life. . . they can deceive us, take us down a path of mental exhaustion and destruction. We have to tell ourselves the truth, and that helps separate those emotions that deplete us from those emotions that wash our very soul. 🙂 Thought always precedes emotion. Getting our minds in the game and feeding ourselves healthy thoughts benefitted me greatly. And at times, when I didn't have the strength to think positively, I would ask God to give me something praiseworthy to think on - and then find another person who could "loan" me their good thoughts for a while! 🙂

I hope this helps in some small way.

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Thank you for these words. Wish I would have found this group in January when I first started experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression during chemo. Wasn't sure why I was feeling the way I was until I mentioned it to my Oncologist, who told me that this was VERY normal for folks going through chemo, and she prescribed a mild medication, which has helped me so much!

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@lavendercottage

You ever see Rapunzel? That scene where she just got out of the tower and she’s like

“I’m amazing and I can do this!”
“Oh my God why am I doing this?”

“This is the best day ever!”
“This is literally the worst day ever.”

“I’m so excited!”
“Why is this happening to me?!?”

And then Flynn Ryder is like “you seem to be having mixed feelings about this.”

Rapunzel is me, “coping”.
Flynn Ryder is my husband 😂

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This is cancer treatments daily refrain!
I never looked at it like that but when I read it, I thought “yep, that it, in a nutshell”.😂
How are you doing with your treatments?

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You ever see Rapunzel? That scene where she just got out of the tower and she’s like

“I’m amazing and I can do this!”
“Oh my God why am I doing this?”

“This is the best day ever!”
“This is literally the worst day ever.”

“I’m so excited!”
“Why is this happening to me?!?”

And then Flynn Ryder is like “you seem to be having mixed feelings about this.”

Rapunzel is me, “coping”.
Flynn Ryder is my husband 😂

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You are doing a great job coping!!
We are your team and we are always with you, thinking about you , praying 🙏🏼 for Gods grace to keep you lifted up!!
If you can find something, place, or trip, lunch with a friend to focus on
It will help to keep you in the positive
Space it’s the day to day that can take joy out of a future!! You are strong and we are running this cancer race with you !!
Maura🎈👏👏👏

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All I would say about these drugs is to make sure they're not fighting with the effectiveness of any treatments you are having. Sometimes primary care physicians who prescribe these don't know the full story regarding this.

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I don't have cancer, but my husband has stage 4 esophageal cancer, and he takes B1 vitamin. Maybe try that and see if it helps with energy.

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I’ve had a Ct scan of my chest in January, compared to the one in September the doctor said one nodule has grown 2 mm. The 8 mm nodule which is the largest of the 5 is the same. My next scan is in May. These are not cancer.

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@lbrockme

What a journey you have had! I admire your determination and resilience!
You are a fighter!
Prayers for your next test!

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Do you have an update on your Scan yet? Hoping you are doing well!

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I found this site to be very helpful..
“ Living Beyond Breast Cancer”

https://www.lbbc.org/
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