Friday, August 14, 2009

A Cancer Diagnosis Can Cause Depression

Wow! Who would have thought? Here's a very scary medical diagnosis that they are going to treat the hell out of. And then they say 'that's it you're done. There is nothing else we can do right now. Go back to your normal life. If it comes back, come on back and we'll try again.' That is the mind of the cancer patient at some level. Basically your world gets side swiped by a semi and then you are supposed to get back to normal and your support of medical doctors and nurses for regular support, just go away when treatment ends. You have sporadic follow up appointments but not the day to day hand holding. Damn it I have cancer! Take care of me!

Jerry Remy (who I do not know) but is an announcer for the Boston Red Sox (go Sox!). He just came back to work after being treated for lung cancer, and, oh yeah, by the way, depression as a result. This article summarizes the situation pretty well.

This time when I had cancer (sometime I'll tell my other cancer story where I did everything wrong), I said to myself, I am not going to lose years of my life being miserable. So when I was first diagnosed, I found a support group which met weekly and I ended up attending for almost two years. Then I found another support group that was different for newly diagnosed patients and we still have coffee or dinner once a month. Then I found a therapist who also had breast cancer and keeps me sane. I also go to a couple on line communities for 24/7 support. And I have anti anxiety medication (to go along with the rest of my pharmacy) to keep me from stressing out. I also have lots of cancer friends who I meet for coffee or something and have little discussions on life, and oh that nasty little cancer thing... And I give myself little mental check ups periodically. How am I doing? How's my stress level? What's going on with me?

My point is a cancer diagnosis has a massive impact on one's being at every level - from the 'why me?' to the 'am I going to die?'. You can't do it alone. You need some support. Maybe its you and your spouse allocating special time to support each other. Maybe its a more formal solution. Maybe its multi-tiered support like I do. Support for all different kinds of thing and in different ways.

So if you are diagnosed with cancer, don't just sit there. Figure out what it will take to keep you on an even keel - before you start sliding down one side or the other. Start working on what its going to take for you to be somewhat happy. Everyone is different and just because you friend's cousin with a similar diagnosis liked this support group, you may not. You may want a therapist. You should explore options and see what's out there. Cancer is an isolating disease (as you watch people flee from your life at the C word). So find something to fill the gaps.

So enough orating (I have been doing a lot of that recently. Maybe I should buy a soap box). I am up early because I need to go to work early so we can go away for the weekend before traffic gets bad. But here I am procrastinating on the internet. We will be in the land of no cell phones and no computers (yes there is still such a thing - its called mountains which block all the signals). My goal is to get to the top of a mountain (by artificial means such as a gondola or a car) and see the world from up high. I haven't been hiking in a few years. Pesky cancer crap in the way. So I am feeling withdrawal. We have a new cat feeder for kitty who seems very nice and works at a vet so he won't be lonely and will get his insulin.

1 comment:

Angela said...

Your blog post was very interesting. I liked the way you have highlighted how dreadful cancer is.

Angela