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?

@merpreb

@padovani- I was a bit tired but did not have any other side effects. This treatment is best described by my radiologist, Dr. Henning Willers, Director of Thoracic Radiation Oncology Service at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA explained,

“The goal is to have the last tumor cell killed on the last day of radiation. In that regard, radiation does not really work anymore after all the treatments have been delivered. However we have no test to directly measure tumor kill. We can only use a CT to see the delayed indirect effect of radiation where a dead tumor slowly shrinks over time as the dead tissue is being absorbed by the body. Tumor cells at the end of radiation may not know yet that their DNA has been lethally damaged. So, actual cell death may indeed be somewhat delayed. And then there also exists the possibility that the immune system eradicates any surviving tumor cells with DNA damage that may try to regrow.”

When do you start?

Jump to this post

@merpreb That is a great explanation of the purpose of the radiation process, Merry.

REPLY

Teresa, this is where I got it from: https://health.usnews.com/health-news/managing-your-healthcare/cancer/articles/2011/08/09/cancer-and-me
She has written books: Try this one Living Time: Faith and Facts to Transform Your Cancer Journey. I'm going to order it too. How are you doing?

REPLY
@merpreb

Teresa, this is where I got it from: https://health.usnews.com/health-news/managing-your-healthcare/cancer/articles/2011/08/09/cancer-and-me
She has written books: Try this one Living Time: Faith and Facts to Transform Your Cancer Journey. I'm going to order it too. How are you doing?

Jump to this post

@merpreb Merry,

Thanks for asking, I'm doing OK, right now. I need to have an upper endoscopy at the beginning of the year to check to see that there are more NETs. The previous ones have all been in the duodenal bulb.

As NETs are very small cells that are not picked up during traditional x-rays, CT scans and/or MRIs, I also need to schedule a 68Ga DOTATATE Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to make sure there has been no metastasis as I do have a liver lesion which appears to be of no big issue right now, bone pain, but I also have a lot of slow growing pancreatic cysts. The slow growth is typical of NETs.

There are always concerns when faced with any type of cancer. My goal is to live life as fully as possible and help some others along the way.

REPLY

Tereasa- I'm not that familiar with NETs. I know that all cancers are life altering. I think that being a mentor on Connect really helps!

REPLY
@hopeful33250

@merpreb That is a great explanation of the purpose of the radiation process, Merry.

Jump to this post

I was trying to think of an explanation for my blog. lol, every time I tried to explain it even I couldn't understand it. So I went to the best source I could.

REPLY
@padovani

Interesting. I am on my second cancer – fist lung five years ago, now liver. Now there is also breast lesion we are setting aside until we deal with treatment for number two. I had no idea this could even happen. Very depressed, very anxious, very angry, probably in permanent denial. Not suresure how to take any of this.

Jump to this post

I also have multifocal lung cancer. I am in Rochester now preparing for my CT scan at 8:45. I have had 4 surgeries since 2011. All have been classified as stage 1 cancers as all were morphologically different. It's difficult never knowing what the scans will show. My last surgery was in June and this is the first time there is nothing left to follow. I'm hoping this scan shows no new areas of concern.

REPLY

HI @linda– welcom to Mayo connect. I have a CT scan in early February and I'm already dreading it. I have lots of ground glass. Good luck and let me know the results. Other than anxious how are you feeling? I've had 2 surgeries, chemo and 2 SBRT's. Tell me more when you have the chance. You are the second multifocal person that I have ever encountered in my 21 cancer journey.

REPLY
@merpreb

HI @linda– welcom to Mayo connect. I have a CT scan in early February and I'm already dreading it. I have lots of ground glass. Good luck and let me know the results. Other than anxious how are you feeling? I've had 2 surgeries, chemo and 2 SBRT's. Tell me more when you have the chance. You are the second multifocal person that I have ever encountered in my 21 cancer journey.

Jump to this post

One slightly denser area. Ugh. Just so disappointing. I'm usually very positive about my situation. Back in 6 months. With the multifocal it's never done. I used to dream of being NED. Learned to be excited for stable. Any change is never good. Thanks for allowing me to vent.

REPLY

Oh dear Linda. The good news is that it's not 3 months. I know, it's never done. We have a chronic cancer.
Have your lessons been in both lungs? How much have you had removed?

REPLY

I had a massive head surgery in 2012 for SCC, and related lung mets in 2014 and 2016. Both were removed by VATS wedge resection. Next scans are next week at Mayo so trying to keep positive and not worry. I have a friend Bob who has passed away from his lymphoma, but he was the most positive person you could ever meet. His final "goal" was to "Finish Life", which he did very successfully. I loved his analogy of kicking a tin can down a long road……… every kick gets you a little farther, and the farther you go, the more likely you will encounter something new and different. New treatments are just around the corner. Just one more kick could land you closer to the treatment that will really have an impact on your cancer. Keep kicking and think positive. Don't give your cancer the benefit of all that stress-induced cortisol release!

REPLY
@sepdvm

I had a massive head surgery in 2012 for SCC, and related lung mets in 2014 and 2016. Both were removed by VATS wedge resection. Next scans are next week at Mayo so trying to keep positive and not worry. I have a friend Bob who has passed away from his lymphoma, but he was the most positive person you could ever meet. His final "goal" was to "Finish Life", which he did very successfully. I loved his analogy of kicking a tin can down a long road……… every kick gets you a little farther, and the farther you go, the more likely you will encounter something new and different. New treatments are just around the corner. Just one more kick could land you closer to the treatment that will really have an impact on your cancer. Keep kicking and think positive. Don't give your cancer the benefit of all that stress-induced cortisol release!

Jump to this post

Yes! I have been very fortunate. I have never had to have chemo or radiation as all cancers were stage 1As. I have had a right upper lobectomy in 2011. Right lower wedge in 2014 and 2 left lower wedges-one last June 2017 and one this June 2018. Mayo is the only place I will go. They saved my life. That's why I always try and stay grateful. Actually the wedge in 2017 was AIS. So many are not as fortunate as I have been. Going on 8 years and still kicking

REPLY

Linda. What is AIS? I feel fortunate too. I've 21 years more than I thought. Staying positive can be difficult at times, especially when the news isn't what you want to hear. I applaud you for that. Hopefully you won't have any more growth when you go back in 6 months.

REPLY
@merpreb

Linda. What is AIS? I feel fortunate too. I've 21 years more than I thought. Staying positive can be difficult at times, especially when the news isn't what you want to hear. I applaud you for that. Hopefully you won't have any more growth when you go back in 6 months.

Jump to this post

Adenocarcinoma in situ. It's actually like a precancer. My PA said who knows-it could be scar tissue. It hasn't changed since June. It is denser than it was in 2017. I'm going to shelf it for now. It feels good to find someone with the same condition as me. Sometimes I feel I can't really help anyone because I've had the surgeries but nothing more.

REPLY

I also don't feel so all alone!

REPLY
@linda10

I also have multifocal lung cancer. I am in Rochester now preparing for my CT scan at 8:45. I have had 4 surgeries since 2011. All have been classified as stage 1 cancers as all were morphologically different. It's difficult never knowing what the scans will show. My last surgery was in June and this is the first time there is nothing left to follow. I'm hoping this scan shows no new areas of concern.

Jump to this post

I hope so too

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.