• What psychological side effects has cancer caused for you?

    Asked by GregP_WN on Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    What psychological side effects has cancer caused for you?

    Have you been able to deal with them? How? Thanks for your input on this.

    36 Answers from the Community

    36 answers
    • Ejourneys' Avatar
      Ejourneys

      In many ways being a caregiver (since 2001) to someone who has brain damage and who can act irrationally helped prepare me for being a cancer patient. I was already dealing with isolation, false hopes, dashed expectations, multiple new normals, chaos, grief, and what have you. I had been through bouts of depression in the years leading up to my diagnosis, followed by learning to really take everything one day (and sometimes one minute) at a time. In the year-plus prior to my diagnosis I had switched my focus to taking care of myself (eating right, exercising, setting limits), which could not have come at a better time!

      Going through treatment forced me to set even more limits and boundaries. The main lesson I learned/relearned was to honor my temperament and trust my judgment. My tolerance for [insert your favorite expletive] pretty much vanished. In many areas I no longer give a you-know-what. At the same time, I've found contentment and happiness in the "small" things.

      over 4 years ago
    • amontoya's Avatar
      amontoya

      As a caregiver, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I'm in therapy.

      over 4 years ago
    • amontoya's Avatar
      amontoya

      I should elaborate, when I hear someone has cancer, I cry. When I found out AmyJo passed away, I balled my eyes out. I have anxiety every day not knowing how Chase is. I'm on medication now. I've changed my diet completely. I no longer eat anything processed, the chemicals scare me. I no longer eat meat, the chemicals scare me. I changed all the products I use on myself, I use only natural or organic items. I research everything and the ingredients in all products before I bring them into my house. I'm starting my own garden because I don't trust food labels. I'm absolutely petrified to get cancer which is why I'm in therapy.

      over 4 years ago
    • Jalemans' Avatar
      Jalemans

      Psychologically, I was OK when I got the dx, & I was OK with the ups & downs with treatment. I was OK with the poor odds & the research i did. When I stopped treatment is when things got the best of me. I was eventually diagnosed with moderately severe depression & anxiety. Things were not so good for a few months, but now I am much better! I take meds for it, but they tell me I am just on maintenance now.

      over 4 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar
      barryboomer

      I ruminate more.
      More ups and downs.
      More anxiety.
      AND I've become certifiably nuts when before I was just a regular nut....lol
      Other than that I'm the same.....

      over 4 years ago
    • flamingogirl's Avatar
      flamingogirl

      I did ok with my first diagnosis. Not so well with the second. I think more about my death. I know the odds are that I won't live to be as old as my grandparents, they lived to their 80's and one is 92 almost 93. Most days I am good though. Not too much depression. I don't plan too far into the future, but then I never did. I try to take more time with family.

      over 4 years ago
    • Traceypap's Avatar
      Traceypap

      I think I am better psychologically than pre dx as I don't sweat the small stuff and stop and smell the roses. If I find myself feeling sorry or thinking about what lifestyle and social changes I have had to make, I think about something else.

      over 4 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      I was a nutcase before I was diagnoses with cancer. Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was planning my suicide. Cancer gave me a reason to live. I wanted to beat the odds. Fear of cancer was one of my many phobias. Once I was diagnosed with cancer I lost that fear.
      One the downside I sometimes have whole areas of my life I cannot remember. Mostly during my second cancer but I was also suffering with a concussion. There were some significant world events at that time. The Catholic church got a new pope at that time. He was immediately extremely popular and still is his piture is often on magazines and in the news but I cannot see him his image just blurrs. Other events that happened during than also I can't remember even when family members tell me about them. They are there for a while then I forget them. Of course I may just be getting old I also sometimes wake up and don't know where I am,

      over 4 years ago
    • meyati's Avatar
      meyati

      I'm having trouble adjusting to staying out of the sun. It gives me frustration and despair. With an aggressive cancer on my face (I'm in remission) I'm terrified about my face being injured, as surgery sets it off and I get tumors popping up. I'm also terrified of any type of liquid soap or cosmetic or cream. I had a reaction to approved sunblock.

      I'm scared of doctors, nurses-people telling me what to do. Most of all, I'm scared of being in bed-filled with tubes and not having any pain killers. I'm scared of being lied to. I want control.

      over 4 years ago
    • Chesil's Avatar
      Chesil

      The dx was like a train wreck. 6 weeks as an in patient, can't work, my life turned upside down. Now I take it day by day and have learned to accept that most days I do really well in maintaining a positive outlook but there will be occasional days that I don't do so well and get emotional. I try not to look too far into the future and worry about it but live far more in the moment and try and enjoy as many moments as I can. I have thought occasionally about anti-depressants but haven't had any to date.

      over 4 years ago
    • kiki95632's Avatar
      kiki95632

      Depression, anxiety and worry. When I was first diagnosed I struggled with all three. Each time I have a CT scan or am told I am out of remission I struggle with them again. I have learned to keep thing internalized because I saw the worry on my families faces and the protector in me wanted to keep them without worry. My husband is having his own health crisis now. So now it feels like my plate is overflowing and I have to be strong for everyone. I find that sleeping is not great and when I am up by myself, I tend to cry and let it out. I hate cancer. I hate what it has done to me. On the other hand it has opened doors for me. I started in Christmas doing Stockings for Chemo patients and with the help of others was able to give 200 stockings filled with items to make it thru Chemo. Now I am working on Valentines for Chemo patients. I have over 300 hundred handmade valentines with goodie bags that were made by local artists, and everyday people who came together to make the cards. 5 infusion centers will get them

      over 4 years ago
    • junebug0121's Avatar
      junebug0121

      I did not know Amy Jo had passed away. I have thought of her so often since she told us her prognosis. I wish I had not read that this morning. Bless her sweet loving soul.

      over 4 years ago
    • hope-n-faith's Avatar
      hope-n-faith

      Cancer makes me work harder at everything that I do. I want to leave a meaningful legacy behind. Although my surgery is tomorrow Jan 29, 2015, I've not taken the time to dwell on it. Too busy. I am totally submerged into my passions: Genealogy & writing. The last few days, I've worked about 12 hours doing family trees with data & photos for friends. I authored 38 books, 10 are private, the other 28 are part of the schomburg Center of Research for Black Culture (NYPL). I'm happy about that, but I want to do more. Only two days ago, I accepted to do a book "The Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn School of Nursing[phone number redacted]." I must get this under way.

      I eat well, exercise, and try to get enough rest, but my faith and my passion are the wind behind my back. What about the bilateral mastectomy, pain, discomfort, hair loss and ...? Life has ups and downs; it's all part of the experience.

      over 4 years ago
    • Beeps' Avatar
      Beeps

      I'm much less likely to 'sweat the small stuff'! Intense anxiety at scan time! - it starts weeks before the actual scan! I often wonder about 'how long', how awful, how painful.....

      over 4 years ago
    • msesq's Avatar
      msesq

      Initially I was in denial because I felt fine and three MDs couldn't feel a lump. I was convinced they mixed up the biopsy path report. Then I had two lumpectomys and I was mad as XXX that not only was it cancer but HERS2 cancer. I journaled and meditated my way out of the anger phase into treatment but now that I only have 5 months to go anxiety of a recurrence has set in, plus my husband is about to have a biopsy for prostate cancer and with the possibility of both of us having cancer I am pretty overwhelmed.

      over 4 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar
      Clyde

      I am pretty short with fools and call people out on XXX now. I used to be able to tolerate that and passive aggressive behavior, but all those actions feel so counter productive that I just cut them short when someone starts in.

      over 4 years ago
    • DeniseD's Avatar
      DeniseD

      I feel like I am half of me. The fatigue is the controlling factor in my life. Other days I feel guilty for being so ungrateful, I still have a life and am being petty because I am tired. I thank you letting me vent.

      over 4 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar
      Nonnie917

      I suffer from anxiety and have had for years before my DX. Three years ago I was dx bi-polar disorder so am on an antidepressant and plan on going off of them completely next month. I knew 6 mos. before my DX because a little voice inside me was telling me so. I now believe that it was the Lord preparing for the shock of the DX. I had 4 surgeries and for two years I was afraid the cancer would come back even though the MRI's showed no further evidence of the disease. I still have that fear and now I am going through, "I am afraid to go to sleep at night because I might not wake up in the morning." It certainly has changed my life in that I now have much more fear than I did before. I read the Bible every day and try to understand what I am reading. So it gets me through the day. Being in church and praying also helps. But I don't think that the fear is going to leave me. After 2 years since my last surgery, February 2013, I sometimes wonder if it is ever going to go away. In the meantime, I am learning to live with it.

      over 4 years ago
    • Debbie's Avatar
      Debbie

      Oh boy, GregP, this topic is a tough one. Before cancer, I was the most boring person in the world. Working full time, boot camp style exercise class 5 days a week, try to fit in dinner with my husband at least 3 times a week. Just a typical LIFE. Now, it's monthly onc doc appointments, lucky to make a 30 hour work week, trying to start some type of walking program, session with a psychologist every 2 weeks. Meds for nausea, high cholesterol (thank you faslodex), and anxiety. ACK!

      over 4 years ago
    • kimijo's Avatar
      kimijo

      I want to recommend a great book my daughter gave me. I felt a lot of what many of you described. Fighting Brain Cancer 2x and now in remission for the 2nd time. The book is called, "Picking Up The Pieces"-Moving forward after cancer...by Sherri Magee, Ph. D. and Kathy Scalzo, M.S.O. D. It's a very normal thing to go through all these things. I live my life 100% with God...I have walked with him totally, knowing He knows my feelings. Lots to go through...I grieved a lot....Much is given & much is taken away...I live life to the fullest, disabilities and all. Positive thinking, helping others on 2 support pages I run on FB. Try to pray for others and get my mind off my stuff. Helps me....

      over 4 years ago
    • myronbob's Avatar
      myronbob

      hi, completely unaware AMY JO PASSED ? SAD beyond belief . this is perfect reason I hate cancer and what it does to a young beautiful person . may she rest in peace . i'm truly heartbroken .bob

      over 4 years ago
    • myronbob's Avatar
      myronbob

      I haven't seen anything on AMY JO hoping beyond hope its in error ,if not she will be truly missed .

      over 4 years ago
    • jennifer1010's Avatar
      jennifer1010

      I think the biggest help in dealing with my diagnosis was being a caregiver to my ex-husband when we were first married. He had Hodgkins Stage IV and went thru 9 months of chemo and then a stem cell transplant and radiation. I learned so much 17 years ago with being strong for him and learning so much about the process and insurance and all kinds of stuff. So that helped me know what questions to ask, know what to expect somewhat as far as process, and also has helped me be a better patient for MY caregiver. Seeing what he dealt with all those years ago and seeing now how he is doing and being 15 years post treatment and just the sheer fact he IS 15 years post treatment when he was given 50-50 odds and told he was 3 weeks from death. I know HD is different than Ovarian cancer, but it still has been a help.

      I have worked really hard throughout the past 3 months in dealing with my diagnosis and treatment to maintain a positive attitude and not get to down on myself or my situation. Its really hard to do that, but focusing on getting back to normal activities and getting a dog has really helped keep me away from depression.

      At the beginning I was able to compartmentalize everything... I was able to kind of put aside the cancer because I had to deal with my surgery recovery first... by the time I needed to focus on the cancer (4 weeks after dx, 2 of those in the hospital) the cancer had been bouncing around the back of my head and I was able to wrap my head around it all easier.

      I will say I get super emotional super easy since dx. I cry really easy... over anything. I kinda blame the hysterectomy and hormone stuff there.

      over 4 years ago
    • CASSIEME1's Avatar
      CASSIEME1

      FEARS OF REOCCURANCES. FEELING LIKE MY WHOLE LIFE WAS A FAILURE AND WHY DID GOD PUT ME AND LEAVE ME HERE TO SUFFER. ITS HARD TO STAY CHEERFUL. TIRED OF FAKING IT TIL I MAKE IT

      over 4 years ago
    • Rthompson's Avatar
      Rthompson

      in truth, I had no reaction at all to my diagnosis of cancer which is not surprising when you realize that I was in a coma resulting from it. hahaha. I vaguely remember, during a brief moment of consciousness, someone telling me I had cancer, but thought it a dream. It was not until a week later when my husband and oncologist were discussing my future course of action that I learned I was stage IV cervical cancer and while my initial expectancy was only 6 months, he still wanted to treat. My reaction to this was maybe not the norm, but I became angry and determined. I am a stubborn woman, always have been, and did not anyone or anything, in this case, thinking it was going to determine the course of my life for me. So I looked at the dr and said..."okay, what do we do and when do we do it?" That was the attitude I have tried to maintain through everything. Cancer has taken a lot from me and I mean a lot...mentally and physically. Even now, nearly 4 years post cancer, NED, it continues to take from me as I lie here recovering from a broken hip and fractured femur resulting from bone loss from chemo and early menopause. Throw that in with the no bladder, colon and 2 ostomies, the kidney failure, the previously fractured vertebrae, and the numerous other conditions and you would think I would be the unhappiest person in the world. Quite the contrary. I instead try to be the happiest, most optimistic and positive person I can be. I do this because I know that I am not going to let cancer beat me, no matter what it tries to throw my way. I refuse to have come this far only to give up now. And plainly because I do not like to LOSE....EVER! I also do not want my 5 kids, 12-18 at diagnosis, now 16-22 to know that no matter what, I gave it my all, the entire way through. I never surrendered, I never admitted defeat. Now, if there is an area where I have been psychologically impacted, it was with my husband and my children. I think this, too, was one of the ways I was able to remain positive...I did it for them. I knew if I looked like I thought or knew when things were bad, so would they. A few of them already showed signs of depression and such hurt and loss. One and my husband, had to go on antidepressants; ironic since I never did. I saw their growing concern for me and I knew I had to convince them that I was okay...and so I did. But, while I was doing this for them, it also made me stronger for me. I wish I knew how I "did it" If I did, I would write a book and share it with each of you, free of charge. Sadly, I do not. I simply tried to live my life as I always had only with a hospital stay, surgery or two, or treatment/recovery stent thrown in every now and then. If anything I can say that I have learned that to often we find it easier to give into those negative thoughts and images we plant in our heads and live with the resulting fear they create. If we could only supplant them with the positive potential outcomes and choose to believe in them instead, just imagine the difference that one little act would make. If anything, that is the one thing I was able to do, and continue to focus on to this day! I wish you all the very best with what ever difficulty you are overcoming, but know that if I can do it...SO CAN YOU!

      over 4 years ago
    • victoria14's Avatar
      victoria14

      I try too not to let little things bother me (tho it's hard). I try to appreciate the people around me more, trying to find their good side. I guess I am trying to be less critical and judgemental because I realized that people carry many scars and pains that can't be seen from the outside. I started yoga because I finally think I want to be as strong as I can, yet don't like most sports. I love yoga though, and I love the time to relax and breathe deeply. I also realize that though the idea of perhaps dieing young someday and being in pain is scary, it was more scary not knowing what it was like to have cancer, but knowing someday I probably would. For me, unknown fear was always in the background of my mind. . .Anyway, I am so grateful to this group for giving me an opportunity to "speak" in my native language! Thank you everybody for listening.

      over 4 years ago
    • DoreenLouise's Avatar
      DoreenLouise

      to Nonnie- Has your physician approved the discontinuation of the medications? If not, keep in mind that one has an inreased suicide rate when the medications are discontinued.

      over 4 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar
      Nonnie917

      DoreenLouise, I see my counselor on the 4th to talk to him about being weaned off the medication slowly so I don't fully crash. I figure that if I have depressed episodes I will deal with them with the help of God. I have been a walking Zombie for over 3 years now and I am tired of it. This medication helps me not to feel that way, but I can't deal with side affects that disrupt my sleep. That is why I have chosen to get off ALL anti-depressants. It is just too much for me to handle. So I promise that I will be extremely careful about getting off this medication. I have too much to live for to do something crazy like do away with myself. I plan on living until I am 84, if the Lord tarries in coming to take his church home. That seems to be the life expectancy in our family so I have about 24 more years or so. I have lived a pretty healthy life since 1990 when I quite smoking and that was only a pack a day. I only smoked for about a year when I quit. Nasty habit. I quit drinking about the same time. God changed my whole life and I have him to thank for that. So I will be okay. Thank you for your concern and love. It means a lot to me.

      over 4 years ago
    • DoreenLouise's Avatar
      DoreenLouise

      Nonnie- thanks for your response. Best whishes, In Christ, Doreen

      over 4 years ago
    • kashubian's Avatar
      kashubian

      My husband's Dx changed everything; some for the better & some not. What did not change with his Dx changed 22 days later when my dad (my confidant and the person I'd always turned to when I needed to talk as we were very close) suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage. Within 8 days of my husband's Dx he was in treatment, only 4 days after getting out of IMC and having lost about half his blood to his ulcerated tumor. Things just moved too fast to think, we just went to work on it. It was while my dad was in a coma that things got tough. Too much had changed and it only took 2 days to do it, everything was different and it would never be the same.

      I no longer suffer fools, I just don't have the time or energy to waste on it. I've dropped out of some of the things that were very important to me before, like Labor Council (I was an officer). I just don't need the heartburn of politics anymore. I cry alot now, at all sorts of things, my nerves are just too raw. I no longer have a career, I'm a full time caregiver and part time to my dad, and caregiver to a caregiver (my mom). I used to identify myself by what I did, now I don't even know how to define myself. Many of our friends don't call anymore, I think this scares them. Others don't get it, they think that since he completed chemo, he's better...he is not, his cancer is now advanced. I think more about the future and try to make contingencies, all the what if's. While I cry more, I don't think I am depressed, but I have anxiety. Lots of it. While spending hours a day at my dad's bedside or with him in rehab, I was working overtime on a commissioning project and spending a day a week in oncology with my husband...and I had crushing chest pains from bottling up the anxiety. I no longer fake it til I make it, it takes too much out of me. If a day is a tough one and someone asks how I am, I am now honest. Some quit asking the rhetorical question, others began to ask it and really mean it. I was laid off because I was out every monday (chemo day) and then some. My boss fought for me, but could no longer keep me due to all my missed days. It used to really burn my behind when people would ask if I was working...my God, I was working 24/7! Since I shared our schedule of doctor visits last year on his caringbridge site, roughly 1 or 2 visits every week between the husband and my parents, I just ask who would employ me with that schedule. If I did not do what I am doing, nobody would. That leaves me feeling alone, admittedly this has isolated me/us. We have had 3 kittens in the last 2 years that have brought some joy to us, they are fun to watch and we try to live in those moments. I now have health issues, I'm often just as fatigued as he is. Too late in the game I'm trying to find ways to cope. Some of my co-workers shared with me that they were amazed I was still working while going through this, I look back and don't know how I managed...and realize how it burnt me out. Our faith offers us hope and comfort, it has deepened. My friends, those who remain, get that shell shocked look at what we endure. I've given up on soothing them, it is too hard to cater to them and handle all I must at the same time. My sleep cycle in wrecked, my heart beat irregular and the headaches are exhausting. Still, we are blessed because most with his type of cancer don't survive the surgery. We've had every specialist we needed within driving distance. So, I guess I also spend more time counting my blessings than I used to, since being forced in to a sort of early retirement. As my mother said just weeks ago "if tomorrow you woke having only the things you thanked God for yesterday, how much would you have?", So I spend some meditation time daily dwelling on all I am thankful for.

      over 4 years ago
    • HILARIOUS's Avatar
      HILARIOUS

      Hello my name is Hilarie and I have surivied Breast cancer. I had it a year ago! God helped me through the rough times. I suffered when I received Chemo treatments alot. I suffered physically and mentally. I would fall into very deep depression and do nothing but cry and feel sorry for myself. Those were very rough days and nights for me, but by the Grace of God and and the support of my daughter, Adrienne and friends...I pulled through those rough times!!!!!

      it is very important to for you to have a very strong and powerful support network to help see you through the good and very bad days; cause you will experience rough days while undergoing Chemotherapy especially. Chemo gave me very bad bodily aches and cramps and spasms in my colon.

      I have a new hard lump on my breast wall (that breast was removed due to cancer a yr ago) andn i went to have a Sonogram done last week. The doc said that the lump looks suspicious, and that I have to go next week to have a Core needle biopsy in order to rule out cancer the 2nd time around.

      Please pray for me as i pray for all of you that we remain CANCER FREE!!!!!!!!!! I will get back to all of you and keep you posted.

      My name is Hilarie/Hilarious and i'll be seeing you soon. Take good care of yourselves and eat properly.

      over 4 years ago
    • HILARIOUS's Avatar
      HILARIOUS

      Hello all:
      My name is hilarie/Hilarious!
      The trick is to DON'T FEEL SORRY FOR YOURSELF. PRAY, STAY CLOSE TO YOUR FRIENDS AND PRAY SOME MORE. TALK ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL--PREFERABLY WITH A COUNSELOR OR CALL[phone number redacted] THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY HOTLINE. THEY ARE THERE TO HELP YOU THROUGH WHATEVER ROUGH TIMES YOU ARE GOING THROUGH!!!!!!

      When I was down and depressed, Iwhen I had breast cancer, I would call ACS 24-hour hotline telehone number and they were there for me, as they will be there for you too. I promise!

      You can get through the emotional and physical tough times. If I can do it...and i did...SO CAN YOU!!!!!!

      God Bless All.

      Love: Hilarie
      [email redacted]

      over 4 years ago
    • MichaelS's Avatar
      MichaelS

      Almost all positive results. I appreciate the people and things around me more. I have re-prioritized a lot of things. I am enjoying things more because I pay attention to details more. I am a little frustrated in that I did for others and now need to have some things done for me which I am not used to. A result of chemo caused anemia, low hemoglobin and extreme shortness of breath. But that is my main battle now. I want to get back to being independent. I feel the fight for that is making me stronger. And I know there is more to come.

      over 4 years ago
    • glam's Avatar
      glam

      in day by day it seems that no physiological damage were left. .. But then when something happen outside of the "normal" I realize that anxiety reaches me in a level different than before cancer. ...I also have anxiety when telephone rings because for almost a year practically all calls in and out where to talk about cancer as I live abroad. ...God continue blessing all of us

      over 4 years ago
    • vinsickc's Avatar
      vinsickc

      This is my second battle with the disease, breast cancer. Found out on year 10 that it had returned on my mastectomy scar and my internal memory nodes. The past year and a half I've gone through several different hormone therapy and radiation. Up until now all of my pet scans have shown activity continued in my lymph nodes. Current results show activity still however being told that there is Molecular activity in right breast at surgery site, which is confusing because it's been 11 years since my mastectomy and 10 years since Reconstruction. My doctor says quote unquote so this is normal. How can you have normal Molecular activity by a surgery site that hasn't been touched for all these years? Now that whole area had then radiated a year ago can it be due to that? It's hard when you feel a lack of support from your doctor because he gets irritated when you ask questions, hello expect it! I don't trust anything I'm told, is this normal? Maybe because I was told I was out of the woods for 10 years. Maybe it's because I trust instinct, which is what found my cancer both times.

      over 3 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      If you can't get a straight answer from your Dr. get a Dr. who can answer your questions. Most insurances pay for second opinions.

      over 3 years ago

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