• emotional side effects

    Asked by Svaha on Thursday, April 11, 2013

    emotional side effects

    I'm finding it increasingly annoying for people to "encourage" me to stay in treatment (they're seeing me cope with the side effects) by telling me how strong I am. How I can BEAT this. Although I'm hoping for the best but expecting the worse (there IS no guarantee). I'm putting up with treatment because the percentages are in my favor and it doesn't make sense NOT to. If the percentages go down where the quality of what life I have left diminishes significantly I may just change my mind and go on a long vacation. I'm thinking that perhaps with all the control over my person and my life that I've lost maybe I'm hypersensitive thinking these well meaning friends and family are trying to take even more?? Getting very cranky so some advice from the people who are walking in my shoes would be most appreciated on how to handle it and thanks.

    18 Answers from the Community

    18 answers
    • SpunkyS's Avatar

      I can appreciate your frustration. I wanted to reach out and slap someone(s) in similar situations. Also those who told me I looked good. (bald and bloated, but not dying looks good?)
      I was able to bite my tongue, practice patience, and thank the person for their support. Then ask to change the subject because I was tired of talking about cancer.
      Good luck with the patience part. And post a picture if someone gets a black eye. tee hee!

      over 3 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear Svaha,

      Hi. My name is Aliza. I'm a BC patient and the site's unofficial Medical Librarian. I give advice (usually non medical), offer referrals to doctors, hospitals/institutions, agencies and research when required/requested. I can't offer the sometimes "standard treatment suggestions" I see other folks on the site do because though I'm a patient, I came on the site in my professional capacity. My offering medical advice equals practicing medicine sans license-it's unethical and also illegal. My professional training, skills and abilities allow me to look at questions in ways that others usually are not able to.

      I am permitted though to speak from personal experience as well as those of friends and family who've had Cancer.

      I hear what you're saying. You're right. There is no guarantee! People who have not been through a major or chronic illness (I understand this especially because before I was diagnosed with BC last August, I was a Lupus patient for the last 20 years [moderately mild, usually]). generally mean well, they just don't know how to act or what to say other than what they've seen on "The Doctors", "Dr. Oz", "ER", "House", "Grey's Anatomy", "St. Elsewhere" (for those of us old enough to recall [I do-I'm dating myself...;)]. They form their opinions about medical procedures, hospitals, specialists based on these televised dramatizations and that's just not how medicine is practiced. I know. I used to be married to a physician as well.

      Your friends and family are not trying to take anything away. They just don't (understandably) know how to act. Perhaps one of them is your caregiver? What I might suggest for you is to be able to vent your feelings because they're very passionate to someone in person and the best person I can think of for doing so would be one of CancerCare's Social Workers. They're unlike other social workers. They're specially trained to deal only with the highly specialized concerns of Cancer patients and their caregivers. You can speak with them in person or by phone. Your choice! Speaking with them isn't like "regular therapy". No one cares about your "toilet training" and no one's going to blame "your mother". It's completely devoted to the concerns of Cancer patients.

      The lack of control that you describe is very common among all us Cancer patients. I was incredulous last summer when I was diagnosed. Not so much angry as bewildered. There was no family history of BC, I nursed my daughter when she was an infant (with that as a preventive in mind as one reason), I ate/eat broccoli (cruciferous vegetables). Yet I still had a tumor. There came to be a time, when (while I was searching for a Breast Surgeon), I had to stop asking myself those questions. Fortunately, my fiancé, family and friends were very patient with me or else I'd have driven them crazy like a dog who goes in circles biting his own tail. It's just not a productive thing to do. (I also had the advantage of having a daughter who's a Paramedic and the 3 of us, she, myself and my older brother took care of our Dad (and Grandpa) who had CLL [so we're a medically oriented family]). As I mentioned, I may have been incredulous, but the moment I was diagnosed, I didn't shed a tear (my fiancé will verify) and I was on the phone scheduling an appointment with a breast surgeon. We were supposed to get married last December. Instead I had a mastectomy. What's that great John Lennon quote? Life is what happens while you're busy doing other things. it's true. I'd bought a strapless dress for this as well. Now we're rethinking whether we want "that kind of wedding."

      There comes a time when you must accept what you have (whether you wanted it or not [none of us did ]) and learn to make peace with yourself. Otherwise, you will alienate those around you (they won't know how to act anyway, but if you can seem more "normal" they'll calm down) or you'll make yourself horribly depressed and that won't help your Cancer.

      One of the best books I'd recommend for you to read is called "Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips" by Kris Carr and Sherryl Crow. Kris Carr is an amazing young woman who's an actress and writer who developed a very rare Stage IV Cancer and must learn how to live with it as a chronic illness. Not only does she learn to do that, but she does so with vivacity and style and gusto, forming her own "cancer posse" (other surivivors who are determined t live just as vivaciously). It's a fascinating and fun book and I really think it would lift your spirits. But you have to first want them to be lifted...

      If I can help you further, I'd be happy to do so. Just message me here or email me offsite.

      Wishing you better days ahead!

      Warm wishes,

      over 3 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      Svaha, the problem that most people (non patients) have with talking to us (cancer patients) is they really don't know what to say, they want to be supportive, and they have all heard what the standard statement is to one of us. So what usually comes out is, what you have described. I do truly believe that they mean well, but there's not much they can do. I take their compliments and thank them and move along. I do know it gets frustrating at times, especially when the treatments are getting hard.
      I wish you the best.

      over 3 years ago
    • derbygirl's Avatar

      I certainly know how you feel. I got so tired of people telling me how sorry they were for me that I wanted to scream. I know they mean well but I just wanted things to be normal. So I made a decision to just smile politely, say thank you for the concern, and go about my business. To me it seems they want to support you and try to offer help the only way they know how so don't be too angry with them. Take care.

      over 3 years ago
    • Teachertok's Avatar
      Teachertok (Best Answer!)

      Svaha, I think that this is a vey 'American' problem of our culture being optimistically focused. I completely hear what you are saying. People are taught to be positive and encouraging. I guess if you look at it this way, they are trying to keep you alive and happy through uplifting words. However, "fighting" seems like a tiring thing when you are already tired and living with illness. When or if you decide to go on your long vacation tell them, "Well, this is MY cancer and we all get to live through our illnesses in any way that has meaning for us...someday you may want the same consideration". Because, as my best friend once told me during her cancer, eventually we all meet the same fate...we don't live forever.

      over 3 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes you just want someone to say. Yes this s* and it's ok to be angry, cranky, etc. We need to be able to acknowledge our negative feelings and have them verified so that we can cope with them and move forward.

      I am seeing a therapist who specializes in treating individuals with cancer. She gets me, she gets where I'm at. She helps me make sense of my universe and move forward. I am also on anti-anxiety and antidepressants to help me stay on an even keel. I don't feel drugged, I feel in control.

      over 3 years ago
    • fastdog's Avatar

      I think "hypersensitive" may be a key word here, and frustration makes us all fall into that mindset at times. I've said it on here before, and I'll say it again: every dumb thing people say to comfort or encourage me, I've said to cancer patients in the past, before my own diagnosis. I meant well, and others mean well. What, really, can they say? What do we want them to say? For me, the fact that they say anything about the subject at all is appreciated. It may be clumsy, but I know it's well-meant.
      I thank them, and move on. My battle is not with these people, it's with cancer. And if cancer has taught me anything at all, it's to have a bit more patience.

      over 3 years ago
    • Svaha's Avatar

      I would like to thank each and every one of you. I'm well aware we all come with an expiration date and while I'm trying to extend mine a bit I'm not under the illusion I'll live forever, successful treatment or not (I am almost 64 and I have to die of something). I really wish everyone would just let it lie and talk about the things that really matter to them and let me talk about the things that matter to me and have the conversations we used to instead of "how are you feeling" and describing to me how I look. I do have a mirror and I'm well aware of how I look. I really miss having decent eyebrows. I could say volumes with one raised:-) I remember growling at one well-meaning person "for the love of all that's holy DON'T be pulling the grass up over my grave because I'm not DEAD yet". Poor woman. Again, thank you. I am fortunate to be well loved and you're right, they're doing the best they can.

      over 3 years ago
    • Svaha's Avatar

      Interesting article on "How Not to Say the Wrong Thing". http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/07/opinion/la-oe-0407-silk-ring-theory-20130407

      over 3 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar

      A point to remember is cancer strikes the whole family. In a way those encouraging words are their way of finding courage. When they tell you are looking good they are really trying to convince themselves. Remember it is not easy to hear of a friend or family's cancer. Thank them for their concern then turn the conversation to the passions you share.

      over 3 years ago
    • carolynm's Avatar

      I agree with BoiseB. If I was annoyed with all the questions, I would say that I was tired of talking about it and could we discuss something else. It usually worked. I basically did not discuss all the details except with my closest friends and immediate family (about 5). After they got the hint, others mostly asked "how I was feeling", a one word answer "fine!", regardless of how I felt, ended the discussion.

      I was and still am seeing a psychologist and any venting or complaining goes to her.

      What really annoyed me: A cancer survivor heard me discussing with my chiropractor that the cancer had just come back. She grabbed on to my arm and would not let me out the door until she told me about her experience and to hang in and all the various other platitudes. As angry as I was, I kept telling myself that she was well meaning. If I hadn't let my anger control me, I should have told her that I didn't want to talk about it. The moral is that well meaning people keep showing up even after treatment and we just need to communicate that we are private people and do not always want to discuss our condition.

      over 3 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar

      First, if you don't want to talk about cancer, don't bring it up. Second, when someone does, simply tell them you find talking about it boring and you would like to change the subject. If that doesn't work, walk away. They'll get the message soon enough. Its ok to be a little aggressive about this but only if you didn't start the subject.

      over 3 years ago
    • Svaha's Avatar

      Gee Clyde, what makes you think I brought it up? Just a tad judgemental aren't we

      over 3 years ago
    • hugs' Avatar

      It has been 10 years since I felt that way. A little angel in the form of my grand-daughter got me up and moving. She keep coming to my room saying UP.. She was just 1 1/2 yrs old. I feel very blessed now that even though I hated everything going on inside my body I listened to that little girl. I got cranky and wanted to give up, too. I read where my treatment could give me 6 months longer to live or something like that and I thought that is not worth this pain. I felt like just putting my weak bald head in a pillow and not moving again. Very hard times, but if you get out and walk each day a little more and a little more you will see life is beautiful and you can make yourself strong again with God's loving help. I lived where it rained almost everyday and was cold so do not let that stop you. God's gift of life is so much more beautiful after that journey is over...Ask everyone one you know to pray for you and those prayers can do amazing things... May God hold you tight and give you strength thru His Love.. In Jesus Name, Amen...:)

      over 3 years ago
    • Menglert's Avatar

      I'm currently going through chemo and have found that when I don't feel well, those people telling me how strong I am and how I need to stick it out make me so frustrated that I want to lash out. On the other hand, when I feel better, it doesn't bother me as much. I just have to keep reminding myself that the people who have never been in this situation do not understand what you are going through. The final decisions for what I do in my life still rests with me. If others take over that power it's only because I let them. My daughter-in-law is also going through breast cancer, so we've found that talking to each other and venting really helps. If you can find someone who truly understands what you're going through, I think it's really helpful to have such a cancer buddy.

      over 3 years ago
    • 2bbcontinued's Avatar

      When I express my wishes as far not wanting to talk about cancer or hearing how well I look, I am told I'm in a "mood". And what's wrong with me. Denial of any "mood" results in are u serious? You haven't realized how moody you are. Saying I want to keep some aspects of my situation to myself, must mean I'm in a "mood." I say so be it. If they want to look at as being that, it is fine. Whatever works for them

      over 3 years ago
    • Judit's Avatar

      I hope you can discover a support group where people understand what you are going thru. Do you have a Gilda's Club near you??

      over 3 years ago
    • emdanuco's Avatar

      Patience indeed is a virtue that does not come easily to me. I totally understand what you mean. Only we as patients can truly understand these feelings in particular. It is reasonable to feel frustrated because we don't feel particularly good all the time and we can't be sure how much longer we can be strong and keep going. The same way our friends and family are entitled to their feelings too. My way of handling it is asking about them, fun things, parties, travels, etc. You will find that they'll be so happy to talk about themselves too.

      almost 3 years ago

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