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Merry, Volunteer Mentor
@merpreb

Posts: 351
Joined: Feb 07, 2018

Facing Cancer Recurrence, PTSD & Acknowledging Mental Health

Posted by @merpreb, Thu, Dec 6 11:00am

It’s extremely difficult to face the fact of recurring cancers. After treatments we try and get away from it all and live our life. Then along comes another CT scan or PET scan and POW, you have to face another cancer. My reaction was developing PTSD.

You can read what I wrote in my blog: https://my20yearscancer.com/blog/

How do we cope? How do we react? What do we do?
How have you all reacted to another cancer? Or the possibility of another one? Has your “already compromised” mental health been able to deal with it? How? Or not?

REPLY

That is very interesting what you said. I have had 3 cancers and although one try’s to live one life there is always a fear each time you have an mri or Ct. I recently went to a new doctor the other day as I have always been so positive and happy lately I don’t seem to be my normal self it’s hard to explain, my doctor who also has had cancer asked if I feel that the things that used to do to make me happy do not anymore. Boy did he hit the nail on the head. He said it is normal to feel anxiety and a little depressed after all I have been through. Finally someone who understands. Just to let you know you are it alone.

I just found your blog and want to say thank you for writing it. I'm sorry for all you have been through but thank you for taking the time to outline all your troubles and sharing your wonderful insight. It has helped me today.

@cindyhb – thank you. That's the reason I wrote my blog, to hopefully help someone. Now I know for sure that I have. How did it help you?

@merpreb

@cindyhb – thank you. That's the reason I wrote my blog, to hopefully help someone. Now I know for sure that I have. How did it help you?

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I'm just 3 years in on my breast cancer diagnosis (5 years from my first Stage 0 diagnosis). I was lucky, caught it early (well so far). Seeing someone be so honest about the fear, the recurrence, the treatments, depression…..(all the fun stuff)…..and expressing it. I'm sure it's very common but somehow in my 'journey', though I am quite lucky and thankful for it, you see so many ads and posts and etc that make you feel like depression and anxiety are not the way this makes you feel or that you're not strong enough or tough enough or zen enough. I think also, as I help my husband navigate his serious cancer right now, I saw a lot of myself coping with that on top of my own troubles and thought, 'yes, it's ok to feel depressed, it's normal to hate the unknown aspect of cancer.
You expressed so completely and lovingly the struggle. The Mayo Clinic site has been a great source of support for me but I do try to stay as positive with others and gloss over a bit how awful this feels. I think everyone does. Your blog, for me, was a chance to see that the feelings I've had and are having aren't out of the ordinary. Hugs

Hello…need suggestions…is it ok if I give orange juice to my mother

Hi Samantha-Have you spoken to her doctors/clinic people about diets for your mom? As long as your mom tolerates OJ I don't see the problem with anything that she wants to eat or drink. How is she doing? Has she loss or gained weight?

Liked by samanthaezu

I'm new to this social media connection. I just read your blog post. Thank you for writing. Your post feels helpful because I have felt so alone. And odd. Learning that others have thoughts/feelings/symptoms similar to mine is encouraging. I've had surgery for brain tumors including all the usual trauma that goes along with that, followed by 9 years of no symptoms but annual MRIs, followed by a s.u.r.p.r.i.s.e. recurrence and more surgery, followed by a feeling that I'm just flailing away at life these days. It's like the poem by Stevie Smith – I'm not waving, but drowning! I remember one of my original surgeons told me upon discharge from hospital to "go out and live your life" and I've been struggling with the "how?" I intend to explore PTSD. Thank you.

@jeanadair123

That is very interesting what you said. I have had 3 cancers and although one try’s to live one life there is always a fear each time you have an mri or Ct. I recently went to a new doctor the other day as I have always been so positive and happy lately I don’t seem to be my normal self it’s hard to explain, my doctor who also has had cancer asked if I feel that the things that used to do to make me happy do not anymore. Boy did he hit the nail on the head. He said it is normal to feel anxiety and a little depressed after all I have been through. Finally someone who understands. Just to let you know you are it alone.

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@jeanadair– Good morning. I am so glad that you wrote back. It's quite something, isn't it when you know something isn't quite right and then someone puts the words to it! I'm so glad that you found a doctor who understands you. What three cancers have you had? What treatments have you had? One cancer is a lot to absorb, but three! I have had four lung cancers. It is not easy. WHen was you last cancer?

@cindylb

I'm just 3 years in on my breast cancer diagnosis (5 years from my first Stage 0 diagnosis). I was lucky, caught it early (well so far). Seeing someone be so honest about the fear, the recurrence, the treatments, depression…..(all the fun stuff)…..and expressing it. I'm sure it's very common but somehow in my 'journey', though I am quite lucky and thankful for it, you see so many ads and posts and etc that make you feel like depression and anxiety are not the way this makes you feel or that you're not strong enough or tough enough or zen enough. I think also, as I help my husband navigate his serious cancer right now, I saw a lot of myself coping with that on top of my own troubles and thought, 'yes, it's ok to feel depressed, it's normal to hate the unknown aspect of cancer.
You expressed so completely and lovingly the struggle. The Mayo Clinic site has been a great source of support for me but I do try to stay as positive with others and gloss over a bit how awful this feels. I think everyone does. Your blog, for me, was a chance to see that the feelings I've had and are having aren't out of the ordinary. Hugs

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Good morning Cindy- I am so glad that my blog has helped you feel like you are not alone. I can't imagine what else other than fear, anxiety, tension and depression you could feel after a diagnosis of cancer, or any other major illness. We have not only been told that our lives might be in jeopardy but then we are told that we have to have an operation/treatments where we lose a part of our bodies. And it doesn't really matter if those parts are inside or outside (although this makes it worse ), it's still a loss. Hey, give that back to me! That's mine! I've had it all my life! I don't care if it's rotten! lol
And on top of this you are dealing with your husband's cancer. I consider all cancer serious and how can you not be a bit "down in the mouth" now with all that he is going through? Is he in treatment and what kind of cancer does he have.

@eewtao

I'm new to this social media connection. I just read your blog post. Thank you for writing. Your post feels helpful because I have felt so alone. And odd. Learning that others have thoughts/feelings/symptoms similar to mine is encouraging. I've had surgery for brain tumors including all the usual trauma that goes along with that, followed by 9 years of no symptoms but annual MRIs, followed by a s.u.r.p.r.i.s.e. recurrence and more surgery, followed by a feeling that I'm just flailing away at life these days. It's like the poem by Stevie Smith – I'm not waving, but drowning! I remember one of my original surgeons told me upon discharge from hospital to "go out and live your life" and I've been struggling with the "how?" I intend to explore PTSD. Thank you.

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Good morning @eewtao ! A warm welcome to Mayo Connect. You have come to the right place for company. Isn't it something when we are hit over the head with another cancer after such a long time! It does make us feel like drowning. I mean who is born and taught how to deal with this type of thing? It's like being shot. Does anyone teach us about the pain with that? Well, we are a feeling species and the emotional pain that we feel is just as bad, and usually lasts longer because there really are no bandages for it.
Let me ask you, what has your treatment been for brain cancer? Are you in treatment now?

And good morning to you. It's a different feeling to get a diagnosis of recurrence. Not the same quality of fear as with the first, but a different flavor of fear. The undercurrent of dread that I didn't realize I was hauling around with me until it surfaced powerfully and I was able to identify it and name it. The dread I am still carrying but want to address. My treatment – craniotomy in 2006. No chemo or radiation. Endoscopic endonasal surgery in 2015, followed by additional time in hospital with septic shock. Then a stint in hospital to remove a kidney that seemed to have a mass. It was benign, but they didn't put my kidney back in :)! Then back for gamma knife radiation to brain. There are pieces of the original tumor still in my head, so I live with watchful waiting. My original surgeon said, "go out and live your life", but to me this was not helpful. I don't think he really knew what he was saying to me. How does one live a life that has been so profoundly altered!?! And that, Merry, is what spoke to me in your blog post. That you've been on that journey. I am searching for clues that will work for me. Thank you.

@eewtao

And good morning to you. It's a different feeling to get a diagnosis of recurrence. Not the same quality of fear as with the first, but a different flavor of fear. The undercurrent of dread that I didn't realize I was hauling around with me until it surfaced powerfully and I was able to identify it and name it. The dread I am still carrying but want to address. My treatment – craniotomy in 2006. No chemo or radiation. Endoscopic endonasal surgery in 2015, followed by additional time in hospital with septic shock. Then a stint in hospital to remove a kidney that seemed to have a mass. It was benign, but they didn't put my kidney back in :)! Then back for gamma knife radiation to brain. There are pieces of the original tumor still in my head, so I live with watchful waiting. My original surgeon said, "go out and live your life", but to me this was not helpful. I don't think he really knew what he was saying to me. How does one live a life that has been so profoundly altered!?! And that, Merry, is what spoke to me in your blog post. That you've been on that journey. I am searching for clues that will work for me. Thank you.

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@eewtao– You have been through a lot. And you are absolutely correct. Recurrence is a different flavored jolt. After we make it through the first one, and time has passed, we think, "Hey, I made it!" A recurrence says, "No you haven't. I gotcha!"
"Go out and live your life" should be stricken from human speech lol. Well it's very tough because no one tells you how. No one says, give it time, your life will just be a different normal. You will learn to be more humble, appreciative and grateful. You've heard the term, "wake-up call". Although it can be a bit condescending it really means, "wake-up, become aware and take care of yourself now!" And by grateful I mean for your support system, the medical profession, the science and research that has allowed you to be taken care of.
How do we get to this stage of "live your life?" One day at a time. It's the only way, I think. It means that you tackle each day coping and trying to come to some control over your life. Deal with your physical well being. Decide how far you can push yourself physically. Take power/control over your medicines, you bandages, your diet, your exercise. Make your appointments. Set times for visitors, family, friends if need be. Go where you want when you are physically are able. Research anything that you don't have answers for, but remember: not everything has an answer. That was my biggest hurdle!
In my blog post, https://my20yearscancer.com/life-after-cancer/ I deal with this question.
Thank you for your your kind words. Reliving all of this for me is worth it when I can help someone else. It's the gift that keeps on giving!

@merpreb

Hi Samantha-Have you spoken to her doctors/clinic people about diets for your mom? As long as your mom tolerates OJ I don't see the problem with anything that she wants to eat or drink. How is she doing? Has she loss or gained weight?

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She has gain weight and eating well …..and she was told not to have meats…..

Samantha- I wonder why no meats. Meat in moderation wont cause cancer, I don't think. But if she really wants it than I say give it to her. Is she bedridden or up walking around? I am so glad that she has gained weight! You are doing the right things!

She is walking around 😊

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