Facing Cancer Recurrence, PTSD & Acknowledging Mental Health

Posted by Merry, Volunteer Mentor @merpreb, Dec 6, 2018

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?

Good morning to @merpreb and the rest of us who have experienced recurrence of our cancer diagnosis.

This morning I read this Mayo article on Managing Your Emotions After Cancer Treatment and felt that many of the ideas were worth sharing. Here is the link to the article,
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/in-depth/cancer-survivor/art-20047129
For me, the paragraph titled, "Fear of recurrence is common in cancer survivors." was most helpful and I thought about others on Connect. The suggestions included being honest about your fears, talking about them, healthy lifestyle habits of nutrition and exercise. As I thought about myself, after three cancer surgeries, I realized that the following have helped me deal with my fears. Here are some examples: I attend support groups with other cancer survivors, I've also joined exercise programs intended to be gentle (not vigorously aerobic), I've worked to plan nutritious eating.

I look forward to hearing from you. What do you do to keep your fear at bay? How do you deal with the normal fears of another recurrence happening?

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@hopeful33250

Good morning to @merpreb and the rest of us who have experienced recurrence of our cancer diagnosis.

This morning I read this Mayo article on Managing Your Emotions After Cancer Treatment and felt that many of the ideas were worth sharing. Here is the link to the article,
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/in-depth/cancer-survivor/art-20047129
For me, the paragraph titled, "Fear of recurrence is common in cancer survivors." was most helpful and I thought about others on Connect. The suggestions included being honest about your fears, talking about them, healthy lifestyle habits of nutrition and exercise. As I thought about myself, after three cancer surgeries, I realized that the following have helped me deal with my fears. Here are some examples: I attend support groups with other cancer survivors, I've also joined exercise programs intended to be gentle (not vigorously aerobic), I've worked to plan nutritious eating.

I look forward to hearing from you. What do you do to keep your fear at bay? How do you deal with the normal fears of another recurrence happening?

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Good morning @hopeful33250. Good morning everyone! What a wonderful article about cancer recurrences. Thank you so much.
My most feared fear is that I would die from my next cancer, that there would be no treatments anymore for me. My feelings are that I wouldn't know what to do. I would be lost. I mean how do you die? How does anyone? What do I do to prepare from this eventuality. I'll be lost. My parents never taught me a thing about dying. The way I handle this – with no guarantee of a solution – is that I let these fears repeat themselves enough that they literally wear themselves out over time. I think dying is a major fear because we haven't a clue what it's all about after we actually die. Is there another type of existence after we die? Will a higher power greet me? Or is death the same thing as before we are born and therefore we will only have existed in people's memories? As you can see, I haven't resolved this yet. I hope that I do but I might not.

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I appreciate your sharing your fear with us, @merpreb. Probably many of us have that fear of death as well.

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@merpreb

Good morning @hopeful33250. Good morning everyone! What a wonderful article about cancer recurrences. Thank you so much.
My most feared fear is that I would die from my next cancer, that there would be no treatments anymore for me. My feelings are that I wouldn't know what to do. I would be lost. I mean how do you die? How does anyone? What do I do to prepare from this eventuality. I'll be lost. My parents never taught me a thing about dying. The way I handle this – with no guarantee of a solution – is that I let these fears repeat themselves enough that they literally wear themselves out over time. I think dying is a major fear because we haven't a clue what it's all about after we actually die. Is there another type of existence after we die? Will a higher power greet me? Or is death the same thing as before we are born and therefore we will only have existed in people's memories? As you can see, I haven't resolved this yet. I hope that I do but I might not.

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@merry

Liked by alamogal635

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I think as we get older we all think about dying whether we are sick or healthy. I think about it now but it’s not being afraid it’s about missing my family will they be ok. But then these are human emotions because we on earth know what it’s like to miss someone. As for after death that all comes down to faith and what we believe. I had a religious upbringing and I believe with all my heart. That I will see my family someday and be with the Lord even tho it can’t be proven to me. It’s all in the heart and what we believe. We will all find out someday but I am
Not afraid. Stay safe and keep the faith.

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@sakota

I think as we get older we all think about dying whether we are sick or healthy. I think about it now but it’s not being afraid it’s about missing my family will they be ok. But then these are human emotions because we on earth know what it’s like to miss someone. As for after death that all comes down to faith and what we believe. I had a religious upbringing and I believe with all my heart. That I will see my family someday and be with the Lord even tho it can’t be proven to me. It’s all in the heart and what we believe. We will all find out someday but I am
Not afraid. Stay safe and keep the faith.

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Very well said, Joan.

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@merpreb

Good morning @hopeful33250. Good morning everyone! What a wonderful article about cancer recurrences. Thank you so much.
My most feared fear is that I would die from my next cancer, that there would be no treatments anymore for me. My feelings are that I wouldn't know what to do. I would be lost. I mean how do you die? How does anyone? What do I do to prepare from this eventuality. I'll be lost. My parents never taught me a thing about dying. The way I handle this – with no guarantee of a solution – is that I let these fears repeat themselves enough that they literally wear themselves out over time. I think dying is a major fear because we haven't a clue what it's all about after we actually die. Is there another type of existence after we die? Will a higher power greet me? Or is death the same thing as before we are born and therefore we will only have existed in people's memories? As you can see, I haven't resolved this yet. I hope that I do but I might not.

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Wow, Merry, such deep thoughts. I'm sorry that your family didn't talk about dying. I was raised in an active Christian family and with grandparents who died when I was a teenager.. We knew that they believed in Jesus and so they went to Heaven when they died, which is a better place. The process leading up to death seems to be an unknown for most of us – dying in our sleep, or very slowly losing our ability to function, or anything in between.
There are a lot of books about death and dying, and also near death experiences – people whose bodies stopped then they were revived and had experiences to share. "Imagine Heaven" looks at hundreds of these experiences, and researchers who checked them out (such as woman who was "flying" outside the hospital and saw a shoe on a 3rd floor ledge – the interviewer found the shoe on the ledge, just as she described it). My understanding is that there is a lot more to our lives after our earthly existence ends. It's definitely worth checking out. Maybe checking it out will help dispel your fears. Keep asking questions! Blessings Wendy

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@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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Feel same way…wonder what is wrong with me?

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@cctoo

Feel same way…wonder what is wrong with me?

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@cctoo– Good morning- I'm so sorry that you are feeling lost. I have felt that way too. I think that I started to feel less lost when I realized that things might happen, a cancer recurrence, stock losses, more than one perfect day of sunshine a year…Your life now will include the chance of another recurrence. It is what it is, as the saying goes. Since I couldn't delay it or stop it's potential recurrence I felt that I had lost all power in my life, all control. It's a horrible feeling. In order for me to "go out and live my life" I had to accept that I most likely will continue to have recurrences and that I had to learn to live with that fact. How did I come to think like this – when I was sick of my not doing things that made my life better. It takes time. There is not anything wrong with you. You are doing fine, trying to readjust your mental life with your physical life. Please do pursue PTSD. I know that this is a very rough time, but you can get through this. Let me know how you do, please!

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Just saw your post. Ia m two plus weeks out of surgery (lobectomy) for a cancerous small mass count in my right lung. Part of my training and work has benign mental health counseling and I find myself, relieved the doctors got all the cancer, yet in partial denial as well as fear that "they" will find a new cancer in my lung, or elsewhere. I have some support from my mentor in psychology and eh will be of help with positive thinking. However, there is a lurking fee that it will show up again. I am worried at an almost subconscious level–fear of the unknown–all the what ifs. Glad to see this part on the lung cancer site. Would appreciate hearing from others and will read your blog. Thank you.

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@alamogal635

Just saw your post. Ia m two plus weeks out of surgery (lobectomy) for a cancerous small mass count in my right lung. Part of my training and work has benign mental health counseling and I find myself, relieved the doctors got all the cancer, yet in partial denial as well as fear that "they" will find a new cancer in my lung, or elsewhere. I have some support from my mentor in psychology and eh will be of help with positive thinking. However, there is a lurking fee that it will show up again. I am worried at an almost subconscious level–fear of the unknown–all the what ifs. Glad to see this part on the lung cancer site. Would appreciate hearing from others and will read your blog. Thank you.

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@alamogal635 I am coming up on 5 years past my surgery for pancreatic cancer. As time passes, hope grows stronger and fear slowly decreases. But I don't think the fear of recurrence will ever go away completely. If cancer comes back, I will deal with it at that time. Meanwhile, I am going to celebrate and enjoy every day of life the good Lord gives me.

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Thank you for your kind reply. I will do my best to put into practice what you are saying. I try and love and treasure each day as it comes. True you are right–it is in the Lord's hands and that is where one finds comfort. Congratulations on your 5 years past surgery for pancreatic cancer–that is marvelous. God bless and keep you.

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@alamogal635

Thank you for your kind reply. I will do my best to put into practice what you are saying. I try and love and treasure each day as it comes. True you are right–it is in the Lord's hands and that is where one finds comfort. Congratulations on your 5 years past surgery for pancreatic cancer–that is marvelous. God bless and keep you.

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@alamogal635– Good morning. I know just what you mean and how you are feeling. I spilled coffee on my laptop and m missing some letters. I've not been on much because of it, but I'm following everyone. Your uestions and uneasiness at this time are very normal as you adjust to your new life after major surgery. No one knows what will happen in the future. l also depression is very common after major surgery. Two weeks, or even three is very little time after lobectomy to feel "normal" I found that if I didn't get enough sleep, or if I was hungry or if I didn't exercise I was more so. Your feelings of denial come from the "why me" uestion. I think. It's not so much why me that yu were ill, but why me that I could die from this, and that this can come back and slap me in the face. Both are true, it's scary for sure. I would advise that you continue to talk to your counselor and just give yourself time. My heart is with you.

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Thank you for your wise words. I think you are right. I will be talking by phone to my counselor today and look forward to "pouring my heart out." What you say makes sense. On top fo everything else, I have depression and take prozac for it. I guess it helps, but like you say this lobectomy is not a "normal" occurrence. It is early in the recovery time. Sorry you spilled coffee on your lap top. You wrote well despite it. Again, what you've written has really helped. Blessings to you and I will be reading a lot of these posts. Don't write as much as others right now. This however is a great site. I wish everyone all the good ness that we can glean from the others here.

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@alamogal635

Thank you for your wise words. I think you are right. I will be talking by phone to my counselor today and look forward to "pouring my heart out." What you say makes sense. On top fo everything else, I have depression and take prozac for it. I guess it helps, but like you say this lobectomy is not a "normal" occurrence. It is early in the recovery time. Sorry you spilled coffee on your lap top. You wrote well despite it. Again, what you've written has really helped. Blessings to you and I will be reading a lot of these posts. Don't write as much as others right now. This however is a great site. I wish everyone all the good ness that we can glean from the others here.

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@alamogal635– You re such sweetie. Have you considered changing antidepressants? I found that Prozac kind of numbed people, and my self rather than deal with depression. I had to change to Zoloft and wellbutrin. By the way I have said lobotomy more than once! lol.

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