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?

@colleenyoung

@gingerw, thinking of you today.

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@colleenyoung Thank you. If anyone has to go to a Los Angeles area hospital, I recommend Huntington Memorial in Pasadena. This is where I had my PET CT scan done today. After having to reset my appt from Tues AM to this afternoon [the machine broke down as I was on my way in], the entire staff set about making things right. They changed everything to "stat", and took great care with me. The radiologist had already started his read and dictation of first section before second was completed, report headed to hematologist-oncologist tonight. I have an appt on Mon afternoon with my h-o for the results. They were nothing but professional, and sincerely wished my luck on Monday.
Ginger

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@gingerw

@colleenyoung Thank you. If anyone has to go to a Los Angeles area hospital, I recommend Huntington Memorial in Pasadena. This is where I had my PET CT scan done today. After having to reset my appt from Tues AM to this afternoon [the machine broke down as I was on my way in], the entire staff set about making things right. They changed everything to "stat", and took great care with me. The radiologist had already started his read and dictation of first section before second was completed, report headed to hematologist-oncologist tonight. I have an appt on Mon afternoon with my h-o for the results. They were nothing but professional, and sincerely wished my luck on Monday.
Ginger

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Nice to hear you were pleased with the facility in LA. Eager to learn of results if your PETCT, and best wishes for answers.

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@gingerw

@colleenyoung Thank you. If anyone has to go to a Los Angeles area hospital, I recommend Huntington Memorial in Pasadena. This is where I had my PET CT scan done today. After having to reset my appt from Tues AM to this afternoon [the machine broke down as I was on my way in], the entire staff set about making things right. They changed everything to "stat", and took great care with me. The radiologist had already started his read and dictation of first section before second was completed, report headed to hematologist-oncologist tonight. I have an appt on Mon afternoon with my h-o for the results. They were nothing but professional, and sincerely wished my luck on Monday.
Ginger

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@gingerw– This is so refreshing to hear. Both you an @parus are having positive experiences, so we can all pass the word around about these places. I wish you every bit of luck, warm hugs and all limbs crossed for you

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@gingerw

@colleenyoung Thank you. If anyone has to go to a Los Angeles area hospital, I recommend Huntington Memorial in Pasadena. This is where I had my PET CT scan done today. After having to reset my appt from Tues AM to this afternoon [the machine broke down as I was on my way in], the entire staff set about making things right. They changed everything to "stat", and took great care with me. The radiologist had already started his read and dictation of first section before second was completed, report headed to hematologist-oncologist tonight. I have an appt on Mon afternoon with my h-o for the results. They were nothing but professional, and sincerely wished my luck on Monday.
Ginger

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I'm so pleased that you were comfortable in the environment and that they treated you well and with such respect! Both you and @parus have had some positive health care experiences. I look forward to hearing from you again!

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Hi. Gulp. I should be happy — wonderful wife who has taken care of me through 3 surgeries, held my hand through 11 months of every 3 week infusions, takes care of our beautiful home, and I was able to retire early (7/31). Received a clear PET scan in June and feeling well enough to road trip again. Our driveway is 10 minutes from the Mayo parking ramp. Hair is growing back from chemo treatments, little more gray, a little curlier. Large community of friends that have stayed with me through the 1 year journey. Good health insurance, and able to pay COBRA for both of us until Medicare.

But.. I am pissed and mad and cry every time I think of what my life was suppose to look like. Saved for retirement for 30 years, moved to an encore career to slowly move into retirement, looked at snow birding to a pickleball community, loved traveling in our convertible, boating, golfing, gardening, being outside. I was healthy, active, and ate right. Last time I was in a hospital was to deliver my 29 yo son. Used a tanning bed twice, in my 30’s. Did the usual tanning with baby oil in my teens.

It is not fair!! Is this PTSD?

Metastatic Melanoma wild type
Diagnosed 9\18
59 yo
Procedures: Mastectomy, lung VATS, lung cryoablation
Received my 1st clear PET in June after moving to a second line treatment of Chemo+Pembro
Next scan: 9/10

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@bdpp

Hi. Gulp. I should be happy — wonderful wife who has taken care of me through 3 surgeries, held my hand through 11 months of every 3 week infusions, takes care of our beautiful home, and I was able to retire early (7/31). Received a clear PET scan in June and feeling well enough to road trip again. Our driveway is 10 minutes from the Mayo parking ramp. Hair is growing back from chemo treatments, little more gray, a little curlier. Large community of friends that have stayed with me through the 1 year journey. Good health insurance, and able to pay COBRA for both of us until Medicare.

But.. I am pissed and mad and cry every time I think of what my life was suppose to look like. Saved for retirement for 30 years, moved to an encore career to slowly move into retirement, looked at snow birding to a pickleball community, loved traveling in our convertible, boating, golfing, gardening, being outside. I was healthy, active, and ate right. Last time I was in a hospital was to deliver my 29 yo son. Used a tanning bed twice, in my 30’s. Did the usual tanning with baby oil in my teens.

It is not fair!! Is this PTSD?

Metastatic Melanoma wild type
Diagnosed 9\18
59 yo
Procedures: Mastectomy, lung VATS, lung cryoablation
Received my 1st clear PET in June after moving to a second line treatment of Chemo+Pembro
Next scan: 9/10

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@bdpp– Oh my word life just doesn't give us what we expect or want a lot of the time. I'm a lung cancer survivor of 22+ years and every time I get another lesion I feel this way too. PTSD is so different for everyone. I'll attach my blog post about mine. PTSD is a lot of depression and anger. I'm so so happy that your PET scan came back clean and that you want to get going. Your anger and tears might just be a delayed reaction to your last cancer. I've had 2 surgeries and after the last one I became more and more depressed and eventually house bound from depression. So go get on the road and have fun now, style your new hair in a spunky style and go for it! I firmly believe that being active can be more beneficial than anything. So when do you hit the road?
https://my20yearscancer.com/ptsd-lung-cancer/

https://my20yearscancer.com/climbing-out-of-post-traumatic-stress-disorder/

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@bdpp

Hi. Gulp. I should be happy — wonderful wife who has taken care of me through 3 surgeries, held my hand through 11 months of every 3 week infusions, takes care of our beautiful home, and I was able to retire early (7/31). Received a clear PET scan in June and feeling well enough to road trip again. Our driveway is 10 minutes from the Mayo parking ramp. Hair is growing back from chemo treatments, little more gray, a little curlier. Large community of friends that have stayed with me through the 1 year journey. Good health insurance, and able to pay COBRA for both of us until Medicare.

But.. I am pissed and mad and cry every time I think of what my life was suppose to look like. Saved for retirement for 30 years, moved to an encore career to slowly move into retirement, looked at snow birding to a pickleball community, loved traveling in our convertible, boating, golfing, gardening, being outside. I was healthy, active, and ate right. Last time I was in a hospital was to deliver my 29 yo son. Used a tanning bed twice, in my 30’s. Did the usual tanning with baby oil in my teens.

It is not fair!! Is this PTSD?

Metastatic Melanoma wild type
Diagnosed 9\18
59 yo
Procedures: Mastectomy, lung VATS, lung cryoablation
Received my 1st clear PET in June after moving to a second line treatment of Chemo+Pembro
Next scan: 9/10

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Hi @bdpp I an so sorry to read of your health situation. It's never easy to travel these journeys in life that's for sure. When anyone of us is diagnosed with cancer our lives change and they change without any consideration for what we had been planning for, or hoping for, in our future. It certainly was the case when my wife was diagnosed with brain cancer at 49. Cancer, like all of life, is simply not fair.

It was good to read you have so many positive things in your life. A wonderful partner, good insurance, the financial security to be able to afford COBRA, which can be a brute for sure, and a community of supportive friends. While it is not easy, sometimes we need to force ourselves to look at those good things in life versus the bad or those things we have lost. As I said, easy to say, but never an easy task.

During the very worst of the months of my wife's disease we came to relish the fact, when we woke up, that we simply had another day together. That was our greatest gift and we trained ourselves to not look past that.

Wishing you continued strength, courage, and peace.

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@bdpp

Hi. Gulp. I should be happy — wonderful wife who has taken care of me through 3 surgeries, held my hand through 11 months of every 3 week infusions, takes care of our beautiful home, and I was able to retire early (7/31). Received a clear PET scan in June and feeling well enough to road trip again. Our driveway is 10 minutes from the Mayo parking ramp. Hair is growing back from chemo treatments, little more gray, a little curlier. Large community of friends that have stayed with me through the 1 year journey. Good health insurance, and able to pay COBRA for both of us until Medicare.

But.. I am pissed and mad and cry every time I think of what my life was suppose to look like. Saved for retirement for 30 years, moved to an encore career to slowly move into retirement, looked at snow birding to a pickleball community, loved traveling in our convertible, boating, golfing, gardening, being outside. I was healthy, active, and ate right. Last time I was in a hospital was to deliver my 29 yo son. Used a tanning bed twice, in my 30’s. Did the usual tanning with baby oil in my teens.

It is not fair!! Is this PTSD?

Metastatic Melanoma wild type
Diagnosed 9\18
59 yo
Procedures: Mastectomy, lung VATS, lung cryoablation
Received my 1st clear PET in June after moving to a second line treatment of Chemo+Pembro
Next scan: 9/10

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@bdpp Life has this sneaky way of making us sit up and take notice of things. As we merrily go along, planning things out, it has other ideas and often throws a wrench into the wheel. In 1988 I received my first life-altering diagnosis, and here I am 30+ years later, still here. I refused to let it kick me in the teeth, let it have the upper hand. And that is how I dealt with with subsequent health situations in 1997, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017. I grieved for the things I realistically knew would not be possible, then created a work-around. A new reality, a new look at options. I hope you can reread your post and see the positives you spoke of, how the gratitude for those things shine!
Ginger

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@gingerw

@bdpp Life has this sneaky way of making us sit up and take notice of things. As we merrily go along, planning things out, it has other ideas and often throws a wrench into the wheel. In 1988 I received my first life-altering diagnosis, and here I am 30+ years later, still here. I refused to let it kick me in the teeth, let it have the upper hand. And that is how I dealt with with subsequent health situations in 1997, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017. I grieved for the things I realistically knew would not be possible, then created a work-around. A new reality, a new look at options. I hope you can reread your post and see the positives you spoke of, how the gratitude for those things shine!
Ginger

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@gingerw– Wow! Wonderfully said.

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@gingerw

@bdpp Life has this sneaky way of making us sit up and take notice of things. As we merrily go along, planning things out, it has other ideas and often throws a wrench into the wheel. In 1988 I received my first life-altering diagnosis, and here I am 30+ years later, still here. I refused to let it kick me in the teeth, let it have the upper hand. And that is how I dealt with with subsequent health situations in 1997, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017. I grieved for the things I realistically knew would not be possible, then created a work-around. A new reality, a new look at options. I hope you can reread your post and see the positives you spoke of, how the gratitude for those things shine!
Ginger

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Thank you. Yes, I am creating a “new normal”, one that includes handling the treatment side effects. I was going with “living large between scans” now finding that I just want to make sure each day has something that will bring a smile and positive thought. There are many of those moments, every day.

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@IndianaScott

Hi @bdpp I an so sorry to read of your health situation. It's never easy to travel these journeys in life that's for sure. When anyone of us is diagnosed with cancer our lives change and they change without any consideration for what we had been planning for, or hoping for, in our future. It certainly was the case when my wife was diagnosed with brain cancer at 49. Cancer, like all of life, is simply not fair.

It was good to read you have so many positive things in your life. A wonderful partner, good insurance, the financial security to be able to afford COBRA, which can be a brute for sure, and a community of supportive friends. While it is not easy, sometimes we need to force ourselves to look at those good things in life versus the bad or those things we have lost. As I said, easy to say, but never an easy task.

During the very worst of the months of my wife's disease we came to relish the fact, when we woke up, that we simply had another day together. That was our greatest gift and we trained ourselves to not look past that.

Wishing you continued strength, courage, and peace.

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Thank you for sharing your experience. I am very fortunate and realize there are so many people addressing much harder lives. But there are also many that have never been touched. I can see where it would be wiser to not look past the day at hand. Will have to think on that and see if it is something we can accomplish. Peace to you too.

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@merpreb

@bdpp– Oh my word life just doesn't give us what we expect or want a lot of the time. I'm a lung cancer survivor of 22+ years and every time I get another lesion I feel this way too. PTSD is so different for everyone. I'll attach my blog post about mine. PTSD is a lot of depression and anger. I'm so so happy that your PET scan came back clean and that you want to get going. Your anger and tears might just be a delayed reaction to your last cancer. I've had 2 surgeries and after the last one I became more and more depressed and eventually house bound from depression. So go get on the road and have fun now, style your new hair in a spunky style and go for it! I firmly believe that being active can be more beneficial than anything. So when do you hit the road?
https://my20yearscancer.com/ptsd-lung-cancer/

https://my20yearscancer.com/climbing-out-of-post-traumatic-stress-disorder/

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Powerful blog!!
I see myself in some of your journey, similar feelings, similar frustrations.
Not at your darkest, but definitely hissing at those closest to me. Great description, I will see a spitting cat for now on.

On the day we found out I had 5 new melanoma tumors, we upgraded the convertible. Had a good cry, then literally went and drove cars. Added more space, red interior. Several trips planned. Our love for music has us jumping states to see musicians we adore, and we are returning to the ABQ Balloon Fiesta in October.
Thank you for asking.

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I am experiencing all the emotions that everyone here is experiencing… I have Stage 4 inoperable lung cancer… I try to hide the emotions and read this little thing I put together below, part came from I book I read:

If I let cancer make me bitter or angry, then I would of spent the last days of my life in sorrow and isolation; making a living hell for my loved ones, and be remembered if at all, a bitter old woman who let cancer defeat her.

I would receive their temporary show of sympathy, but in the end they would only have contempt for me and how I left them;

On the other hand:

If I were positive and hopeful, it wouldn't change the day of my death a bit, but, it would mean that I would spend the last days of my life breathing deeply, clearly, contented and blissful, and in love with my family and everyone I met…
I would die a happy woman and be remembered as that brave soul who faced a terrible death with courage, fortitude and aplomb.
I would be cherished by those who knew me.

Why waste months of my life wailing about an end that wasn't even near?

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@janlanderz

I am experiencing all the emotions that everyone here is experiencing… I have Stage 4 inoperable lung cancer… I try to hide the emotions and read this little thing I put together below, part came from I book I read:

If I let cancer make me bitter or angry, then I would of spent the last days of my life in sorrow and isolation; making a living hell for my loved ones, and be remembered if at all, a bitter old woman who let cancer defeat her.

I would receive their temporary show of sympathy, but in the end they would only have contempt for me and how I left them;

On the other hand:

If I were positive and hopeful, it wouldn't change the day of my death a bit, but, it would mean that I would spend the last days of my life breathing deeply, clearly, contented and blissful, and in love with my family and everyone I met…
I would die a happy woman and be remembered as that brave soul who faced a terrible death with courage, fortitude and aplomb.
I would be cherished by those who knew me.

Why waste months of my life wailing about an end that wasn't even near?

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Amen…beautiful. This is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it:)

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@bjh369

Amen…beautiful. This is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it:)

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I have Glioblastoma grade 4…so I also have to remind myself to live in the moment. It's not progressing at this time and I'm almost a year since surgery:)

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