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  • Depression after Cancer

    Now looking back after 7 years of survivorship I realize that I spent a great deal of time in depression. I always felt ripped off when I would see people on TV say, "Cancer has made me live everyday like it's my last". I never got that feeling at all. I came out of cancer skinny, in pain, emotionally freaked out and terrified of every little pain I felt in my body. Heck, if my toe hurt I thought it was cancer.

    I lost my father to brain cancer when I was 22. I spent an entire year with him and hospice doing everything I could to help him and my mom while still finishing up college. At 24 I got cancer and I could barely look at my mom when I had to tell her. I knew that my mom needed me in so many ways that I had to do everything I could to win the battle. I told my doctors, "I don't care what hell I have to go through lets just kill the cancer". Orch/RPLND/2xBEP along with an emergency room trip or two.

    When all the treatment was over I became terrified and did not know what direction to go in. My mom was still struggling with the loss of my dad and I spent years helping her emotionally while ignoring my own depression. I lived that life for about 3 years after treatment. Then I did the inevitable, I fell in love with a nurse and we got married.

    I think I’m now just coming out of the fog cancer put me in however every check-up still summons emotions from that dark horrible time. I realize that I’m lucky to have such a great life and an incredible wife. I'm glad that I found this board because when I read about everything all of you have had to endure it has made me look back at my own struggles and feel more comfortable with it all. I used to think that if I distanced myself from cancer then I would be able to live a normal life again. Now I realize I was just running from the reality that I am a Cancer Survivor.
    May 2000 I/O 100% Emb. Carc./June 2000 RPLND, 1 Node with Micro Involvement/ July 2000 1xBEP, 1xEP

  • #2
    You can't wish away, hide from, or ignore that you are a survivor. It's not really the type of thing that causes pride but it is certainly an accomplishment that deserves respect. I have always found that the best way to overcome fear is to acknowledge its existence.
    Son Jason diagnosed 4/30/04, stage III. Right I/O 4/30/04. Graduated College 5/13/04. 4XEP 6/7/04 - 8/13/04. Full open RPLND 10/13/04. All Clear since.

    Treated by Dr. Rakowski of Midland Park, NJ. Visited Sloan Kettering for protocol advice. RPLND done at Sloan Kettering.

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    • #3
      not in vain

      Somewhere along the path, in exhausted fatigue and I mean truely exhausted from every thought to every aching bone and heartache, I realized that to be this tired was not in vain. That the energy spent, although near torture sometimes could not be a useless waste of time. Still today, with much effort I must say, I turn my thoughts toward looking at the worthwhileness (not sure if that is a word ) of the work being done. Everyday I battle peoples opinions, ideas, fears and judgements, everyday I see new strengths, thoughts, support and read about the amazing people on this path. Yesterday was a thoughtfilled Mothers Day, I loved the hug from my son!!! Russell's Mom, Sharon
      Click here to support my LIVESTRONG Challenge with Team LOVEstrong.

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      • #4
        Jay,
        I have come to the realization that depression is definitely part of the healing process for both cancer survivors and caregivers. People approach this in different ways because everyone's experience is unique. It is encouraging to hear that despite the depression, you life is on the right track. You have fought through it, and you have come out a winner. Flare-ups of the blues do happen, but you have the experience to deal with them so you can keep them in check and so they don't overwhelm you.
        I am glad you have found us; we're here for you. Keep your head up,
        "Life moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -Ferris Bueller
        11.22.06 -Dx the day before Thanksgiving
        12.09.06 -Rt I/O; 100% seminoma, multifocal; Stage I-A; Surveillance; Six years out! I consider myself cured.

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        • #5
          hey jay 1st off sorry to hear about your father! I have been past cancer for two years now, and to be honest when i was going through my treatments and surgeries i didnt care. what i mean is looking back i think i was in shock during that time. after it was all over all my emotions started coming out. I go for my routine checkups now and i get the chills. I think now as we get married and have better lives, we shouldnt hide from our past or be scared of it. We had the strength to beat cancer, and i am sure all of us still have enough strength to get through anything else. God bless you and your family

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jaybird
            I always felt ripped off when I would see people on TV say, "Cancer has made me live everyday like it's my last". I never got that feeling at all. I came out of cancer skinny, in pain, emotionally freaked out and terrified of every little pain I felt in my body. Heck, if my toe hurt I thought it was cancer.
            Jaybird:

            I agree with you completely. Cancer certainly has not made me enjoy every day, in fact, sometimes quite the opposite. I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was 16. Even though it's been 29 years, I'm still very angry about it. So I can understand what you went through with losing you father.

            I don't think anyone ever gets back to the pre-cancer normality, but hopefully, a new level of "normality" sets in. But anxiety and depression can certainly drag you down. I have collegues, who really don't understand the toll cancer can take on a person, for years after the "cure". They think "OK you're all better, everything is fine now". Survivors and co-survivors know all too well, that's not necessarily the case.

            Best wishes and hang in there!
            Fish
            TC1
            Right I/O 4/22/1988
            RPLND 6/20/1988
            TC2
            Left I/O 9/17/2003
            Surveillance

            Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will; to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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            • #7
              I did not mean to come across as someone still struggling day to day because I'm actually a very easy going happy guy. The main point I am trying to make is that it takes time to fully appreciate and except what we have all gone through.

              Have any of you ever thought back to the guy you were before cancer? I for one was much different. Let's say I liked my beer and parties a little much. Now I'm in bed by 9:30 reading a book. I went from a diet of fast food to home cooked veggies and chicken.

              Not to say I don't crack a couple of beers open with friends on the weekends .
              May 2000 I/O 100% Emb. Carc./June 2000 RPLND, 1 Node with Micro Involvement/ July 2000 1xBEP, 1xEP

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              • #8
                I think we all struggle with what being a survivor means. Will I ever be the guy I was before I was diagnosed? No - but that is not a bad thing. The whole experience and dealing with uncertainty has definitely caused a shift in my attitude. I feel more human now. I have a better appreciation of how important family and friends are. I definitely don't take myself as seriously as I used to. And, I have tried to slow down a bit - not work quite as much or as hard, and take more time to play or just enjoy life.

                Yes, I still have my moments (or even days sometimes), but then I remember how lucky I am, and how quickly things can change - so I am usually able to snap myself out of it pretty quickly. I still think about it and still find myself drawn to visit this Forum, but it is becoming less frequent.
                Right I/O 4/17/06, Seminoma Stage Ib
                RT (15 days) completed 6/1/06
                All clear as of 5/8/09

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                • #9
                  My son Chris doesn't share his feelings much...wants it all behind him...but coming up in July to his two year mark...I get more depressed now more than ever. The thrill of him being cured, chemo over, surgery over...wears off, and now I feel, why at 22 do I have to watch my son and worry when I look at him. He looks as healthy as ever..but now I seem to think in my mind he is more fragile....although he is strong as an ox. And the worry every couple of months of the tests, I just can't shake it. He is home for the summer soon, taking summer classes to catch up on what he missed...when he was sick...so I just have to enjoy every day....and I wish you all that enjoyment this summer....Mary Ellen

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                  • #10
                    "Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life."
                    Scott, [email protected]
                    right inguinal orchiectomy 6/5/2003 > nonseminoma, stage I > surveillance > L-RPLND 6/24/2005 for recurrence, suspected teratoma but found seminoma, stage II > chylous ascites until 9/2005 > surveillance and "all clear" since


                    Your donation funds Livestrong services for people facing cancer now. Please sponsor my ride!

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                    • #11
                      It's been 3 years and still I live with my sons cancer everyday. It's like a poltergeist in my soul, all noise and fear. Everyday I have to beat it down and push it back into the corners where it can’t feed on the light or my joy. Everyday as I work to help others it’s grip on my life weakens, sometimes I think I have killed it, beaten the beast, banished him back to hell and then I hear him. Wait till the next scan, wait till the next blood work, if not then maybe I will get your son in 5 years 10 years, he will be mine again I’m patient, I’m relentless. Today was mine, tonight belonged to the beast but tomorrow I will beat him back again, find a way to help someone and his grip will weaken even more.
                      Last edited by dadmo; 05-18-07, 07:52 AM.
                      Son Jason diagnosed 4/30/04, stage III. Right I/O 4/30/04. Graduated College 5/13/04. 4XEP 6/7/04 - 8/13/04. Full open RPLND 10/13/04. All Clear since.

                      Treated by Dr. Rakowski of Midland Park, NJ. Visited Sloan Kettering for protocol advice. RPLND done at Sloan Kettering.

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                      • #12
                        Last year i was seeing a psychologist during chemo and a little bit after. When i told her that i was clear with 95% of chances to stay healthy, she told me to not give to cancer too much place in my head more than it really deserve. So i try at least 95% every day to think to anything but cancer. I think i will think about cancer at least 1 minute every day till the end of my life even if i die at 99.
                        Eric

                        Stage 1 seminoma in august 2001
                        with invaded spermatic chord and treated with RT
                        Relapse november 2005, 4 BEP and now back to surveillance

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                        • #13
                          Quoting Sans rt1: "I definitely don't take myself as seriously as I used to" and, I add, I don't take others as seriously as I used to. Neither job or those things that "before" cancer seemed so important. It's not that I've become a kind of ascetic thinker, but whenever life seems a bit hard to handle (some hard tasks to come through) I think of how horrible it was some years ago lying in a hospital bed with a flebo in my arm, ill, weak, with nausea, no hair, while outside the window there was the bright sun shining and i knew kids were playing basketball, lovers were kissing, people were working, friends were having a beer somewhere and others were walking their dogs in the park enjoing the sun, life... and when i remember my little-cancer-experience, everything (worries) takes a different "perspective": my life has become simpler and I've probably lowered my expectations, but I'm really enjoying every little bit of it, its simple things, every sunny day.
                          Ok, my boss is calling, I have to get back to work................................ or maybe I'll just have a walk outside and enjoy an icecream.

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                          • #14
                            .

                            Paradoxally the cancer experience has ended my panic attacks and depression periods. I'm much stronger and less emotionaly sensitive at nasty life events.
                            Daily exercise, daily 3-4 bottles of beer and sex at 2-3 days its the best regimen for a suvirvor. I'm a survivor! Thats the point. I'm special and I feel the life moore complex than other 'normal' peoples. Its a very strong reason to enjoy each moment and to do all you want to do.
                            Dont forget, life it's very short so dont spend your time and energy with parasite feelenga.

                            Best regadrs
                            2005-03
                            Stage III EC 85% + Sem 15%
                            AFP=2.6; HCG=10, 20,28 and rising
                            FULL CAT scan:
                            -abdominal lymph clear
                            -subpleural lungs metastasis [bipulmonary lesions with diam <= 1cm]
                            4 x BEP changed to 3 x BEP at my request
                            from 2005-05....Surveillance

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                            • #15
                              wow, lots of good posts on this thread.

                              I think the reason why i like coming to this site and talking/listening to others is because all of us here "have been there", and we have an understanding of each other. I get the feeling a lot of times that some people just dont understand what we (survivors AND co-survivors) went through, or go through currently on a daily basis. and thats not their fault, they just do not fully understand. I'm not really sure of the point i'm trying to make... but just thought I'd add my 2 cents.

                              -Kevin
                              Diagnosed 10/03/03
                              I/O 10/15/03
                              RPLND 1/21/04
                              Completed the Boston Marathon 4/19/05
                              Completed the Boston Marathon 4/17/06
                              Baby Riley born on 3/29/09

                              2012 Livestrong Challenge Web page

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