• Chemo/radiation treatments ended two weeks ago. Husband is on an emotional rollercoaster - is that common?

    Asked by mmoorewia on Sunday, April 7, 2013

    Chemo/radiation treatments ended two weeks ago. Husband is on an emotional rollercoaster - is that common?

    He has been so upbeat and brave through all of it, surgery, chemo, radiation. Now, two weeks after it is over, he is having an emotional meltdown. He is scared and convinced this all didn't work and he is going to die. He is very depressed and doesn't want to talk about it. He told me last night he was going to die and I should get use to it.

    Has anyone else experienced such a meltdown after treatment?

    14 Answers from the Community

    14 answers
    • kevin_ryan's Avatar
      kevin_ryan (Best Answer!)

      I have it often as I am sure everyone does. I am stage IV rectal cancer, diagnosed 8 months ago. I often feel like I am just a burden on my family and that they would be better off without me. My wonderful woman is very supportive and tells me how stupid I am. She says that if she were in the same position as me, that she knows I would stand by her and never want her to die. I think you need to approach this issue from that same angle. tell him that if the situation was reversed and you were the one with cancer, how would he feel. He would want to support you and tell you that every moment is precious and should be treasured.
      I know this made me look at my situation very differently. Most of my depression comes from when I am in pain but my woman will make sure I have my pain killer medication and gets me moving, even if it is just into the shower, which makes me feel better. She also tells me that we are all going to die, I just have a better idea of what might take me out than most, but it could be that she gets knocked down by a bus tomorrow. We never know, but need to make the most of the time we have.
      good luck with all of this.

      over 3 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      Yes, and I experience these meltdowns every now and then still, and it's been 7 months in remission for me. I had a breakdown at Relay For Life last nigth and had to leave because I was so overwhelmed I could barely breathe. Although my meltdowns are usually related to survivor guilt but sometimes when I get a weird pain I get convinced it is back and I'm done for. I see an amazing therapist who helps me a lot. I also finally found a support group that is perfect for me.

      Good luck.

      over 3 years ago
    • mer1023's Avatar

      I have them from time to time....these meltdowns. One day I am fine and can face the world then the next day I don't want to get out of bed. Just keep being there for him. I like what Kevin_ryan said.

      over 3 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar

      This is pretty normal and not just for cancer (any huge event that ends can have a level of post-meltdown). He might want to consider seeing a shrink for a time. Just to have a sounding board to rant at.

      over 3 years ago
    • lchapman2000's Avatar

      I had the same thing happen to me. I began to feel comfortable going to chemo, radiation, and doctor appointments. Then, suddenly, they told me I was finished and they didn't need to see me for 3 months. They became like family. I put my life in their hands and depended on them. I saw them several times a week. Now, I only need to go in 4 times a year. I didn't know how to handle that. Not to mention I spent the entire time fighting my disease that once they said it was over I finally allowed myself to feel. All of the fear came rushing in and I felt abandoned. I am not saying that this is what is going on with your husband; however, for me it was definitely PTSD. I needed some therapy to get through it all. After a few months, I learned to deal with my new normal and not to feel guilty for surviving the cancer. Now, I try to live my life to the fullest. I am cautious with my health; however, I refuse to let the cancer hold me hostage in my own body. I am going to live with no regrets as long as I can. If the cancer returns, I will fight again. Now, I know what I am up against. Best of luck to you!!

      over 3 years ago
    • CrazyHarry's Avatar

      I'm a husband with the same feelings. So far, my treatments have been fairly low key, at least in my mind. Oral Chemo and Radiation. Been off treatment for a month and still have those bad days when I'm not feeling well. Drugs do help. As they say, a Lorazapam a day keeps the doctor away.

      Wishing the best to you both on our continued healing journey.

      over 3 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Sounds normal to me. I have melt downs every couple of months, and I'm in targeted therapy with some one trained to address the emotional needs of people with cancer, and also take anti-anxiety meds.

      Once the crises is over we get out of numb "lets do this mode" and finally have a chance to feel our feelings. My latest melt down happened 2 weeks ago. After almost 3 months of being off treatment due to low platelet counts and countless doctors visits, test and procedures some of which were physically very painful, I started a Clinical Trial. I finally had the time, to express all of the physical and emotional pain I had been going through.

      You may want to consider getting him into therapy and/or put on anti-anxiety/ depression meds to help him get over this hump and prevent a downward emotional spiral

      over 3 years ago
    • Peroll's Avatar

      I know exactly how he feels. I had the same reaction after my first round of chemo ended. As you can see from the reponses it is a common issue. Chemo can and does mess with seretonin levels in the breain which is the cause of depression. It is chemical and it is not his or anyone elses fault. The good news is that it can easily be treated with meds and he can get back to normal. The meds do take a couple of weeks to reach full stregnth and are not an instant cure. Often cancer Drs are not well trained to recognise and treat depression so you two may have to seek treatment from his primary care Dr or get a referal from one of the cancer Drs. Please have him do this as soon as possible and let us knowe how it goes. Good Luck

      over 3 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I had a big letdown after treatment -- During treatment I had gotten so involved in my battle against this evil and elusive enemy whereby I found the strength to stay positive and maintain hope. When treatment ended, I felt like I was laying down my weapons - like I was using control.
      I tried to convince myself that the pill I am taking for 5 years is also a powerful weapon - in fact my Oncologist told me it was more crucial to my treatment than the Chemo.
      In addition to these feelings, I felt the reality hit as I was phasing back into the real world. I had been in the "twilight zone" of the Cancer World -- where I was numb. Things became focused as I phased back into the world where my family and friends were. It was like dealing with the diagnosis all over again. I knew that I would never be the same person again -- but I wasn't quite ready for this person that I had become. I found that the meltdowns that I have seem to be related to the fear of recurrence. I got an appointment card in the mail for my follow-up scans (for May 3) - when I opened it, I burst out crying - my husband asked why I was crying - I told him "I am scared!" The fear of recurrence is what keeps us on the emotional rollercoaster. We have to work very hard at staying strong and POSITIVE -- we need to live each day to the fullest and to realize that worrying about tomorrow does not make a bit of difference in the outcome -- worry just robs us of peace and a decent quality of life. Like the old saying -- you could get run over by a bus!!!
      I find that hearing success stories of people who are 15 and 20 years out gives me the hope that I need to move forward. I avoid people who are negative --- I just want positive!!! I wish you the best.

      over 3 years ago
    • xxx19xxx's Avatar


      over 3 years ago
    • RachaelC@StF's Avatar
      RachaelC@StF Community Outreach Coordinator 317-528-7794

      Hi mmoorewia,
      You've posted a great question, and as you can see, this is something that happens quite often to cancer patients. The end of active treatment in a patient's life is a huge change. Does your husband's treating center offer any type of survivorship program? Programs like these are meant to help patients ease back into their day-to-day life, manage lingering side effects and monitor distress. That might be something you check out. A social worker should be able to point you in the right direction. Also, is there a LIVESTRONG at the Y program anywhere near you? That's something we pair with our survivorship program here at St. Francis, because it offers patients the chance to regain strength, energy and meet any goals they might have while also offering a support group type atmosphere. Call your local Y and see if they can help. If you have any questions, look up LindaD at StF on this site. She is the nurse practitioner who runs our survivorship program and can help with any questions you might have. (There is actually an @ in her name, but this site redacts it for security issues.)

      over 3 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar

      First I want to say that Chemobrain is very real and it takes people different times to get over it. Radiation also has lingering effects (that I was not told about). Also sometimes we have expectations for recovery that are unrealistic. The body needs to heal and it needs to heal for more than two weeks after treatment ends.
      Second cancer represents a loss (physical, a part of the body, financial, a big one, and some time life) we must grieve for these losses. I beleive that meltdown is part of the greiving process. You might find some litature on grief and find a way to help him through this process.

      over 3 years ago
    • BLBragg's Avatar

      Hi. My husband had these same types of feelings soon after treatment was over. In fact after his 6 month check up where he was told there was no cancer...he continued to be depressed and then angry. It took him about a year to get rid of the anger and feelings of "gloom and doom." I am happy to report, this past year he has been much better but I suspect as we get closer to his next CT scan, his mood will change.Hang in there, it is a difficult time for you both and our prayers are with you.

      over 3 years ago
    • LubeDude's Avatar

      I was a 4 stage EC patient and chose to go to battle against an enemy with no feelings or sympathy. I chose to fight with determination to win. Many patients don't win but give the fight of their life and leave this world knowing they are fighters. Those of us that survive often go through a stage of guilt because we are still here and so many are not. We are all different in personality, attitude, and personal life styles but we all share the same thing and that is the choice to fight and win or the choice to give up and die. The easy way is to let things run there course and put forth very little effort to survive. What a selfish thing to do to those that love you and care about you.
      I look at my battle as the most worthwhile thing I have ever done in my life for those that care and love me. I owed it to them regardless of how I felt about myself. My new definition of true love doesn't even include me. It is what I have done and what I can do for those I owe. I have nothing else to prove to myself because I have done what was best for all involved. Sometimes we have to look at all the pros and cons and be truthful with self to make the choice. When you make the choice to fight and win sometimes you have to fight within yourself to understand why today is today. The answers are there if you open your mind and realize the reasons you are alive. When the meltdowns hit, just cry them out, they will pass and your life goes on. Only survivors know what this is all about and you are not alone. Handle it the best way that works and never ever give up. I wish you the best and hope every day is a better day. Fight to Win, Win to Live !!!

      over 2 years ago

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