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?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Cancer: Managing Symptoms group.

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.

REPLY
@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.

Jump to this post

@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!

REPLY
@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?

Jump to this post

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

REPLY

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!

REPLY

She just has little weakness on her legs …so she is getting massage daily😊

REPLY
@samanthaezu

She is walking around 😊

Jump to this post

That's wonderful Samantha. When does she see her doctor next? When is her next CT scan?

REPLY
@samanthaezu

She just has little weakness on her legs …so she is getting massage daily😊

Jump to this post

Samanth- I bet that she is grateful for that! It will keep her circulation stronger to help the weakness.

REPLY

She enjoys when I give her a massage…..hope you too you doing good there

REPLY

Samantha- Thank you. Right now I feel very good. But I know that I could use a massage every now and then 🙂 Are you interested?. I have a very complex type of cancer that has many sub-groups. All the new research is showing that Multifocal Adenocarcinoma of the lung is a stage 4 cancer. I have it in both lungs. It means that I have many small precancerous/cancerous cells at one time. Some come and go, some have to be medically removed. The ones that don't grow stay put until they change. It's a different type of metastasis that your mom has. Samantha- You told me that your mom has stage 4 lung cancer too.
I do not believe that diet will have much of an affect on your mother's health or outcome at this point. Stage 4 cancer means that the cancer has spread throughout her body. Since she has chosen not to receive any treatment to stop her cancer like chemo or radiation then her care will be to just keep her comfortable and as much as possible, pain free. Don't pay any attention to diet, what she eats and drinks should be only what she wants, not what is dictated. Please google stage four lung cancer and read what metastatic lung cancer means. When is her next CT scan?

REPLY
Please sign in or register to post a reply.