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Author Topic: PTSD after two bouts of cancer  (Read 1237 times)

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Offline Ihadcancer

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PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« on: March 13, 2014, 09:00:02 AM »
I've not posted in this section before (don't think I have) but I'm quite sure I have PTSD after my liver resection 2 years ago this April.  I do quite well most of the time other than hypochondria but when it comes anywhere close to a 'check up', I get very down and anxious. 

I have a PET scan on April 11th and won't get the results til April 15th.

Has anyone else had cancer and had their whole psyche turn upside down?
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Offline mhmommy

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2014, 04:05:55 PM »
I have not had cancer, however, I have 3 young children to raise and have had my risk of cancer increased substantially from testing
so I could have it induced at any time due to high dose per my doctors, and it could be anywhere, thyroid, liver, breast, etc. please lmk
if that counts and id be happy to share my story with you. I have ptsd from child abuse, neglect, abandonment, infidelity and spousal abuse on
top of this recent development.
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Offline Ihadcancer

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2014, 01:08:32 PM »
I didn't get notified you'd replied and just came back to see if I posted again,  if I could get any help.

First, I've dealt with many of the things you listed but those haven't caused lasting concerns.  I either forgave them or let them go in my head. 

I think we've spoken before. You've had a lot of CT scans?   Let me try to count my scans.  For years 1-3 I had CT scans  - 1 before surgery and then 1  a few months after chemo ended. Next two years they were every 4 - 6 months. At the 3 year mark, I had a CT with contrast and had a reaction to the dye. Then a few days later, a PET/CT w/o.  Surgery for the liver met and then for the year 1 after that PET's at 3 months, then 3 at 4 months and this will be my 2nd at 6 months.  That's a general guess.  I can't allow myself to be afraid of leukemia from PET/ CT's when the possible spread of colon cancer, again, is SO real in my head.

How are you coping with your fear? My children are all grown with only the 19 year old at home.  I don't want to get sick again. I KNOW what it feels like to heal from having 80% of your liver removed and a rib spreader pulling your chest apart.  I also have scar tissue in my abdomen so when I take a deep breath, the organs that are 'stuck together' pull on each other and remind me of cancer.

Have you found anything that helps?  I'm taking Klonopin .5mg 2 x's a day.  I'm supposed to take it 3 x's a day but that would mean setting the clock to either get up earlier or wake myself a few hours after falling asleep. 

Thanks for answering, now go for it!  I'll be your sounding board and you be mine!
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Offline Ihadcancer

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2014, 02:17:24 PM »
Correction in the middle there.......  I said 'then 3 at 4 months and this will be my 2nd at 6 months.'  It should say then went to 4 months and this will be my 2nd every 6 months'. 
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Offline Ira

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2014, 09:25:49 PM »
Ma'am, you are quite the strong woman.  God Bless and I pray your results came back great  ;D
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Offline Snoopy10

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2014, 10:29:16 AM »
Hi there! How could you not have PTSD after 2 bouts with cancer?  I can imagine you have been through so much, feeling anxious seems like a natural reaction.  I am giving you a big universe virtual hug to start, and then a virtual cheer for surviving your cancer and working hard to beat your fears.

For me Klonopin works but a real antidepressant (I am on Lexapro) really is what helped the most.  When my mom had cancer (she had ovarian) she was on Lexapro and also an ADHD drug to improved her mood and it helped her with energy. But that is obviously a personal choice (the meds). Your fear is real and you are doing your best to deal with it. You should be proud of yourself for trying so hard to overcome it!
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Offline Myocdragon

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2014, 11:33:27 AM »
I agree with snoopy10 here. It seems like PTSD would be a fairly normal reaction. You can get treatment for it, of course. I think the only problem is if you let the anxiety get in your way of staying healthy with regular check ups and such. I'm sorry, that's not the only problem, the other, even larger problem is if the anxiety is also affecting your quality of life. PTSD May flare up around doctor visits, but chances are it's always playing in the background a little. It may never go away entirely, but with treatment you can quiet it down even more.
Good luck!
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I'm not crazy, I've just lost my mind

Offline Ihadcancer

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2014, 08:35:44 AM »
I've been doing really well since I got great news in April when all my tests came back normal.  In the last week, tho, I've been having some H/A (Health Anxiety) that not only extended to me but to my puppy.

The Klonopin .5mg eventually works but not until after the 2nd dose (8 hours apart) of the day.  I wake VERY anxious and have bad dreams. 

It's over 4 months til my next check up so I don't know what triggered this fear!
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Offline Venomsoar

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2014, 09:09:21 AM »
I agree with the previous posts that this is a natural reaction to having cancer twice! I get anxious phases that come and I can't seem to find a reason. My Dad also gets them too. I think my only advice is that you shouldn't dwell on it too much because it could make it worse. I know that it's easier said than done.

As a side note, I think you are an incredibly strong woman for dealing with cancer twice and still battling through. This in itself is something you should be proud of. You have beat cancer so don't let anxiety effect you. If you are strong enough to face cancer, then I believe you can laugh in the face of anxiety.

It would be a shame for you to use up your time and energy into worrying about test results although I can completely understand why you do worry. I mean I would be losing my mind - I couldn't imagine what it must be like. Cancer is the biggest dreaded fear of mine. For you to be here and have faced cancer twice and still stay strong is massively empowering for me and I suspect many others here.

Good luck and stay strong!
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Offline Snoopy10

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2014, 09:53:35 AM »
Hi ihadcancer, I love it that you got a puppy! Getting a dog was the best thing I ever did. I have an assistance dog tag for her (my psychiatrist wrote a note to qualify her for one) and I take her places to help reverse the fear around phobias that I have ( like going to the grocery store or on a walk). It's not a magic pill but it helps me a lot.

You mentioned the health fear transferring to your puppy. I can relate.  My doggie got her rabies shot a few days ago and it made her a little sick (which is normal) and when I took her out for a walk yesterday all of the sudden she started acting like she wanted to chase something. I went into catastrophic thinking and thought she got rabies from the vaccine and was even checking her mouth for frothing when I spotted a cat darting out from behind a bush. That is what she wanted to chase! Not a rabies attack :)

If you had a clear appointment and it's 4 months until the next, just try as much as you can to think of it as a free 4 months. Try to think "I just got a clean scan or blood draw. Today, I don't have cancer, so today is a great day and I am going to enjoy it."  Just take each day as it comes. Who knows what tomorrow holds but today, I am alive and I can go outside, see the sun, pet my dog, eat something yummy. Then the next day do the same. It starts again each morning. That way of thinking seems to help me. If I have a bad day (yesterday wasn't great) I tell myself "today is a new day" and try to think positive and look forward to the day to come.

Hope that helps!
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Offline fishmanpa

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2014, 08:36:50 PM »
Hi IHC,

Congrats on the NED! Fellow survivor here. SCC Head and Neck Stage IV. What you describe is what I call "Scanxiety". I'm fine for the most part, but when check up time comes around, I get a bit bent out of shape....irritable, anxious, don't sleep well etc. Docs gave me a chill pill and it helps but nothing like getting a NED to calm things down. I also went through some depression as well. What you're describing doesn't sound like PTSD as much as it does GAD of which I have a bit of.

Having cancer changes us in many ways both physically and mentally. There's always that nagging beast in the back of our minds. You can't go through the experience unscathed. In many ways we're stronger but we've been compromised and it's pretty normal to experience psychological issues post treatment. Being only 15 months post treatment, I still have 9 more months until the 2 year mark at which my odds improve dramatically. I go next week for my 3 month "scope, poke and prod". I feel "Ok" and I don't suspect anything is out of whack but I still have some butterflies if you know what I mean.

Look into CBT. While all of it may not apply, there are some very useful exercises and techniques that have helped me cope.

Positive thoughts
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Offline philp5787

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2014, 08:55:45 AM »
I agree with the previous posts that this is a natural reaction to having cancer twice! I get anxious phases that come and I can't seem to find a reason. My Dad also gets them too. I think my only advice is that you shouldn't dwell on it too much because it could make it worse. I know that it's easier said than done.

As a side note, I think you are an incredibly strong woman for dealing with cancer twice and still battling through. This in itself is something you should be proud of. You have beat cancer so don't let anxiety effect you. If you are strong enough to face cancer, then I believe you can laugh in the face of anxiety.

It would be a shame for you to use up your time and energy into worrying about test results although I can completely understand why you do worry. I mean I would be losing my mind - I couldn't imagine what it must be like. Cancer is the biggest dreaded fear of mine. For you to be here and have faced cancer twice and still stay strong is massively empowering for me and I suspect many others here.

Good luck and stay strong!


Agree with this reply & just want to say one thing that never lose hope, everything is possible. Be courageous.
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Offline Buddymom

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2014, 08:40:43 PM »
I've not posted in this section before (don't think I have) but I'm quite sure I have PTSD after my liver resection 2 years ago this April.  I do quite well most of the time other than hypochondria but when it comes anywhere close to a 'check up', I get very down and anxious. 

I have a PET scan on April 11th and won't get the results til April 15th.

Has anyone else had cancer and had their whole psyche turn upside down?


I totally get it.

 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma when I was 28 and again when I was 33.  Spent 15 years getting CT scans until I was pronounced "cured". (Notice quote signs. ;) )  I'm now 58.

I find that I have gotten more anxious as I get older, only because I'm now at the age to get mammos, colon screens, etc, all of which are reminders of the early cancer days.

It's the fight or flight response gone haywire.  Our brains are trying to protect us from the threat it thinks we're facing.  Dumb brains anyway. >:( ;D
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Offline Ihadcancer

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Re: PTSD after two bouts of cancer
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2014, 12:34:45 PM »
So, I had my Oct. CT/MRI and onc visit and the onc says 'Your scans are fiinnnnee.  You're in remission.  The 2 mm spot on your lower left lung remains unchanged since April'  WHAT SPOT???????????

The new radiologist (same place, same machine) saw a grain of rice sized something and compared it to the only CT scan I've had since before my liver resection and 'no change'.  Not concerned, they say.  Watch it for a year to see if it changes...... they say.  I asked if he would go back and look at my CT scans from 3 years ago but they won't. 

THEN I remember after my liver surgery that a bunch of people were all around me in ICU doing a chest x ray, asking me questions about breathing problems, doing blood gasses minutes apart. I went to the hospital patient portal and the first two blood gases, an hour apart after surgery said "Test result is critical. Physician directive followed."

They did them again at 4 a.m. and just had the numbers or the tech with no notes.  My mother (age 82) had stayed the night and she 'thinks she remembers' someone telling her 'they might have nicked her lung.  Of course, I'm searching for reasons for a 2 mm spot that is anything but cancer....... and just wanted to get your thoughts.

NO ONE ever said anything to me about this but a lung doctor had to also sign my release forms before I could be discharged,  which I didn't understand until today.  I have no idea who he was!!!  No name!

I don't know what to think.  I'm afraid of something the size of a grain of rice that hasn't changed in 6 months. I wonder if they did nick my lung and that's a scar.  I worry that it's cancer. My husband keeps saying 'the doctor said he's not worried......' 
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