It took a new study to confirm what all of us living with cancer know - its still scary years and decades later. The study said that for the first few years after a cancer diagnosis patients cope with depression but then it turns to a much longer bout with anxiety. Why you ask? Because there is no guarantee it won't come back.
This study also looked at anxiety in both patients and their caregivers. The caregivers also tend to cope with anxiety.
If you have some sort of other chronic illness such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia or many others, patients tend to deal with it as a chronic illness. Cancer patients also deal with it as a chronic illness but its also a chronic threat because there is no way to control or prevent it from coming back or showing up with a new cancer some place else.
It took this fancy research study to tell me something I know well, 32 years later, that it still looms over me. In 2005, 24 years after my first diagnosis, I had millions of uterine fibroids that resulted in a hysterectomy. I expressed my concerns to the surgeon that I had had cancer before and was concerned about more cancer. Her reply 'fibroids usually are benign but to be sure we slice and dice them to make sure' left me feeling better about it. But I had been concerned enough to ask.
In 2007 with my breast cancer diagnosis, I started the roller coaster again. But full of little tips and reminders, that because it was my second cancer at such a young age (never say that to patients please), I got extra tests and exams as a special perk.
Years of going to doctors who say things like 'with your medical history, we need to be sure', while reassuring it does reinforce the possibility of cancer looming.
So now I shouldn't worry about depression but only the anxiety and wait for a guarantee.
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