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?

Still it is the day the Lord made….rejoice and be glad in it:)

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@becsbuddy

@janlanderz BEAUTIFUL! I’ve bookmarked your post so I can read it again. And you wrote part of it? Just wonderful

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becsbuddy.. thank you for seeing the post for the positive message… I am trying to live by this as my daughter gets very upset when she thinks I am giving in to the disease and not seeing hope, I too have my bad days and think of dying to young if at all.. it just isn't fair for me to put that on others who had nothing to do with my getting the cancer in the first place… she needs to see my strength in order for her to have strength… I know how much it upsets her since she already lost her Dad to cancer 6 years ago..

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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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That is the most amazing thing I have read in a while, can you tell us who the author is? Thank you for sharing this!

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@auntieoakley

That is the most amazing thing I have read in a while, can you tell us who the author is? Thank you for sharing this!

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auntieoakley.. I am so sorry for not remembering which book I got this from… I just wrote it down on a piece of paper as it had a message that I needed to read more than once in order to stay as strong as I can for myself as well as my family… I have read so many books since I was diagnosed it makes my head spin… lol… from diets to help beat cancer to hope to inspiring stories…

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@janlanderz

becsbuddy.. thank you for seeing the post for the positive message… I am trying to live by this as my daughter gets very upset when she thinks I am giving in to the disease and not seeing hope, I too have my bad days and think of dying to young if at all.. it just isn't fair for me to put that on others who had nothing to do with my getting the cancer in the first place… she needs to see my strength in order for her to have strength… I know how much it upsets her since she already lost her Dad to cancer 6 years ago..

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@janlanderz how difficult it must be for both of you. Do you have a support group that you could both go to? Or a therapist? I, too, don’t tell my sons everything. I want them to get on with their lives and not worry about me. It’s tough. I’m really sorry you are going Thur this. Becky

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@janlanderz

auntieoakley.. I am so sorry for not remembering which book I got this from… I just wrote it down on a piece of paper as it had a message that I needed to read more than once in order to stay as strong as I can for myself as well as my family… I have read so many books since I was diagnosed it makes my head spin… lol… from diets to help beat cancer to hope to inspiring stories…

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Well this is certainly profound. Thanks again for sharing it.

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@becsbuddy

@janlanderz how difficult it must be for both of you. Do you have a support group that you could both go to? Or a therapist? I, too, don’t tell my sons everything. I want them to get on with their lives and not worry about me. It’s tough. I’m really sorry you are going Thur this. Becky

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I have just started seeing a therapist at our Hospice Centre… the therapists at the cancer clinic were not all that helpful unfortunately. I do not think I can get my daughter to go … she has a young son.. my only grandson 🙂 who is 8 yrs old and can be quite a handful.. she is very busy with all his activities… however, she is doing much better since I have been hiding my emotions from her… I learned alot from that message I had posted… it really helps to show strength and not weakness…
My immediate family… 4 sisters and my mom live about 1200 miles from me in the East Coast of Canada… my sisters know I have cancer, but I chose not to tell my mom, with suggestions from my sisters… I agreed not to tell her because it will weaken her and she is getting old.. it will not fix my cancer, so I agree she does not have to know…
what is really sad however is that I go to the east coast every year and did not go this year. I told my mom that we were really busy at work and that work asked me to cancel my vacation.. even though the doctor put me off of work since my Diagnosis in Dec 2018… I hate not being truthful to my mom, but I know God will forgive me because it is for a good reason. I did not go to visit this year because of the PVT blood clot I got in May… afraid the long drive will cause me to get another clot… the doctor did put me on eliquis for life…sigh…

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I agree with all of that but please make sure you have a support system, if you are keeping it from them, then they cannot support you. Being up beat is awesome but you also need to process the negative feelings and sometimes just having that one or two people that you can sit and complain and cry and laugh with makes all the difference in how you cope daily. We have an informal cancer group here that meets for dinner every couple weeks, just us girls usually 3 or 4, that we can process all the stuff, good and bad. We all have different cancers but we are all somewhat close in age. Without that, I think it would be harder to be upbeat day after day.

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@auntieoakley

I agree with all of that but please make sure you have a support system, if you are keeping it from them, then they cannot support you. Being up beat is awesome but you also need to process the negative feelings and sometimes just having that one or two people that you can sit and complain and cry and laugh with makes all the difference in how you cope daily. We have an informal cancer group here that meets for dinner every couple weeks, just us girls usually 3 or 4, that we can process all the stuff, good and bad. We all have different cancers but we are all somewhat close in age. Without that, I think it would be harder to be upbeat day after day.

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I am just beginning to meet people who are becoming some support to me.. One girl from the hospice centre who beat her cancer but lost most of her family members to cancer… calls me every few days.. we are going to a barbeque together tomorrow where the band that plays at the hospice centre will be playing… its at one of the band members camp ground… I also got our public library to start a cancer support group..first meeting will be Sep 11 and every month after that on every second Wednesday… so I am sure I will meet some others who will also be supportive… thanks for your input.. it's nice to hear from others who care 🙂

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@merpreb Haven't posted for a while, but have been reading the posts. My CT scan–first one post the lobectomy is coming up this Tuesday. The doctor wanted the first CT scan six months after surgery. Anyway, here it is coming up and I am a basket case. I can put up a good front and do what needs to be done, but gosh inside I am flat scared. It is as I think of it simply the unknown. I FEEL like things will be good, but then doubt creeps in. A week after the CT scan I see my oncologist.
The cancer diagnosis was difficult along with the surgery to start with, but this CT scan has lurked in the back of my mind and lowly grown into outright fear. I notice that since the diagnosis and surgery, I've become more and more avoidant of social situations. I have always been shy, but now I would call it more like genuine Social Phobia. Talking about it helps some, but it all boils down to going to the imaging center and getting the thing done and the results known. I pray a lot, but have avoided my church community for a good while. I make excuses for avoiding attendance there and in other social situations. My anxiety level is high with the unknown of the CT scan results. I think it is the unknown that is so difficult. Already have lived a long time with depression and anxiety and have great help in that area with great therapists and necessary meds. So, I guess the thing to do is simply hang in there, pray, keep on reading the posts here, and get the darned thing over and the results known. That is how I'm coping right now. It is probably not the healthiest way, but it is what is happening now. I'm thankful that I've been connected with this group and find such support here. Thank all of you and know you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

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@alamogal635

@merpreb Haven't posted for a while, but have been reading the posts. My CT scan–first one post the lobectomy is coming up this Tuesday. The doctor wanted the first CT scan six months after surgery. Anyway, here it is coming up and I am a basket case. I can put up a good front and do what needs to be done, but gosh inside I am flat scared. It is as I think of it simply the unknown. I FEEL like things will be good, but then doubt creeps in. A week after the CT scan I see my oncologist.
The cancer diagnosis was difficult along with the surgery to start with, but this CT scan has lurked in the back of my mind and lowly grown into outright fear. I notice that since the diagnosis and surgery, I've become more and more avoidant of social situations. I have always been shy, but now I would call it more like genuine Social Phobia. Talking about it helps some, but it all boils down to going to the imaging center and getting the thing done and the results known. I pray a lot, but have avoided my church community for a good while. I make excuses for avoiding attendance there and in other social situations. My anxiety level is high with the unknown of the CT scan results. I think it is the unknown that is so difficult. Already have lived a long time with depression and anxiety and have great help in that area with great therapists and necessary meds. So, I guess the thing to do is simply hang in there, pray, keep on reading the posts here, and get the darned thing over and the results known. That is how I'm coping right now. It is probably not the healthiest way, but it is what is happening now. I'm thankful that I've been connected with this group and find such support here. Thank all of you and know you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

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You are in my prayers as well! I will be thinking of you, while you wait for results.

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@alamogal635

@merpreb Haven't posted for a while, but have been reading the posts. My CT scan–first one post the lobectomy is coming up this Tuesday. The doctor wanted the first CT scan six months after surgery. Anyway, here it is coming up and I am a basket case. I can put up a good front and do what needs to be done, but gosh inside I am flat scared. It is as I think of it simply the unknown. I FEEL like things will be good, but then doubt creeps in. A week after the CT scan I see my oncologist.
The cancer diagnosis was difficult along with the surgery to start with, but this CT scan has lurked in the back of my mind and lowly grown into outright fear. I notice that since the diagnosis and surgery, I've become more and more avoidant of social situations. I have always been shy, but now I would call it more like genuine Social Phobia. Talking about it helps some, but it all boils down to going to the imaging center and getting the thing done and the results known. I pray a lot, but have avoided my church community for a good while. I make excuses for avoiding attendance there and in other social situations. My anxiety level is high with the unknown of the CT scan results. I think it is the unknown that is so difficult. Already have lived a long time with depression and anxiety and have great help in that area with great therapists and necessary meds. So, I guess the thing to do is simply hang in there, pray, keep on reading the posts here, and get the darned thing over and the results known. That is how I'm coping right now. It is probably not the healthiest way, but it is what is happening now. I'm thankful that I've been connected with this group and find such support here. Thank all of you and know you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

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@alamogal635 – I get the absolute fear, and I seem to react just like you. I hide when I'm fearful, until I can put them in perspective, I'm a basket case too. I just took a mini step back from Connect so that I could wrap my head around new news about my cancer. And that is I am walking around with a minimum of 4 cancerous lesions with many more that are too small to be considered much of anything. My cancer has increased in both the number of nodules and time in between treatments. And this will progress as time goes on, which I didn't know. I'm better now after a great visit with my oncologist.
During the first year of having cancer we really don't know what is going on and everything is new. I have a CT scan in December and because one of my lesions has grown it's likely I might need it zapped with SBRT. I am petrified, even if I know what it will be like.
I also tend to shy away from friends as I am so wrapped up in myself that I have nothing to say–ok, ok, I know, I always have something to say, but not when I'm petrified. I do not know if this is a good thing or not but it's how I seem react.
I think that we need to come up with a mantra for when we feel like this. What might yours be?
Having cancer turns us into being self-centered, not out of selfishness but being consumed with this disease. Friends are really necessary and the world is bigger than we are. It's good that you pray, if this gives you comfort. I don't pray to a God, I write and Mentor here. I also turn to Connect when I don't know what to do, or feel lost. It's amazing how comforting how some people can be and just pull you out of something. One of my mentor friends reminded me of something that I wrote and it woke me right up!
Are there any friends that call you at all or email? Staying home doesn't serve any purpose after a while and it does feed into our fears. I am going to try and get out more when this happens because I'm going to be afraid no matter where I am and being out makes me less afraid!
Hang in there honey- the Scan and knowledge are just around the corner.

REPLY
@auntieoakley

I agree with all of that but please make sure you have a support system, if you are keeping it from them, then they cannot support you. Being up beat is awesome but you also need to process the negative feelings and sometimes just having that one or two people that you can sit and complain and cry and laugh with makes all the difference in how you cope daily. We have an informal cancer group here that meets for dinner every couple weeks, just us girls usually 3 or 4, that we can process all the stuff, good and bad. We all have different cancers but we are all somewhat close in age. Without that, I think it would be harder to be upbeat day after day.

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@auntieoakley– Your group sounds wonderful!
@janlanderz– I agree with @auntieoakley, being positive is terrific but you need your mind to process all of your feelings, just not the positive ones. If you don't let loose then as time goes on it will become harder and harder to live with your diagnosis.

REPLY
@alamogal635

@merpreb Haven't posted for a while, but have been reading the posts. My CT scan–first one post the lobectomy is coming up this Tuesday. The doctor wanted the first CT scan six months after surgery. Anyway, here it is coming up and I am a basket case. I can put up a good front and do what needs to be done, but gosh inside I am flat scared. It is as I think of it simply the unknown. I FEEL like things will be good, but then doubt creeps in. A week after the CT scan I see my oncologist.
The cancer diagnosis was difficult along with the surgery to start with, but this CT scan has lurked in the back of my mind and lowly grown into outright fear. I notice that since the diagnosis and surgery, I've become more and more avoidant of social situations. I have always been shy, but now I would call it more like genuine Social Phobia. Talking about it helps some, but it all boils down to going to the imaging center and getting the thing done and the results known. I pray a lot, but have avoided my church community for a good while. I make excuses for avoiding attendance there and in other social situations. My anxiety level is high with the unknown of the CT scan results. I think it is the unknown that is so difficult. Already have lived a long time with depression and anxiety and have great help in that area with great therapists and necessary meds. So, I guess the thing to do is simply hang in there, pray, keep on reading the posts here, and get the darned thing over and the results known. That is how I'm coping right now. It is probably not the healthiest way, but it is what is happening now. I'm thankful that I've been connected with this group and find such support here. Thank all of you and know you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

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Just had my scan at the Mayo Clinic was also nervous (my cancer is terminal) as I had different feelings within lung and stomach. Of course one always thinks the worst. Turned out everything was same.my scan was read and meet with Dr same day which helped me. Tumor stayed the same as did the nodules.get sick 8-10 days after treatments, which I get every 21 days, so I took holiday and skipping the next 21 days. Hoping I made good decision but my mind was tired of being sick. Prayers coming your way.

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@richcolleen – That's great news that your cancer has stayed the same. Is there not a way for you to continue to do the chemo and get help with the symptoms?

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