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Podcast: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After a Cancer Diagnosis

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder After a Cancer Diagnosis

December 19, 2018

For nearly 25 years, Kelly Grosklags has dedicated her practice to minimizing suffering through her work in oncology, palliative care and hospice. An experienced therapist, Kelly is a licensed clinical social worker and a board-certified diplomat in clinical social work. She also earned a fellowship in grief counseling from the American Academy of Health Care Professionals and is the author of A Comforted Heart: An Oncology Psychotherapist Perspective on Finding Meaning and Hope During Illness and Loss. Kelly speaks frequently about end-of-life issues, including care, grief and loss, both in person and on her website, Conversations With Kelly. Her passionate and supportive demeanor helps patients, caregivers and health professionals connect with the wisdom of making life more meaningful, coping with depression and anxiety, transforming fear into hope, healing versus curing, and the wisdom of dying a good death.

Listen to the podcast to hear Kelly talk about:

  • what PTSD is, what causes it, and some of the most common symptoms of PTSD in people diagnosed with cancer
  • why people who've experienced trauma in the past may want to be proactive and schedule an appointment with a mental health professional or spiritual guide shortly after being diagnosed
  • when PTSD can happen
  • how PTSD is treated
  • three things people diagnosed with breast cancer should know about PTSD

For more information on PTSD in people diagnosed with cancer, you can read a piece Kelly wrote for the journal Oncology Issues.

Running time: 38:18

Listen now or read the transcript.

Comments

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited March 2021
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    I have read this transcript and it was simply amazing. I have developed PTSD type symptoms during cancer treatment and on top of other mental health issues. I have a psychiatrist to handle my physical symptoms but I'm finding it hard to find a therapist that I can afford that deals specifically with cancer in general. I wish I had an oncology psychiatrist earlier on. I stopped going to my regular therapy sessions after my diagnosis because they specialized in OCD and anxiety. How can I be a part of helping to bridge mental health and physical health for cancer patients?

  • annabelle2
    annabelle2 Member Posts: 27
    edited March 2021
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    I wish I had seen this 2 years ago. Phoenix I sent you a PM.

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited March 2021
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    Thank you Anabelle2!

    Thank you for your PM! I haven't chatted through PM in so long! Also, let me know your thoughts on the article and we can discuss!

    I hope more people find this article helpful as well!


  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited March 2021
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    Please read if you are struggling with PTSD. Hug

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited March 2021
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    bump

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited April 2021
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    Let’s start a quotes game!


    State a quote that inspires you. My first quote is from Albert Einstein:


    Space-time tells matter how to move; matter tells space-time how to curve.”
  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited April 2021
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    “Spread Gratitude.”

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited April 2021
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    I'm going to drop the quotations and just turn this into a log of interesting thoughts I get as bumps for this topic :

    What is one of the things you learned during the experience of being a cancer patient?

    I say “The difference between courage and bravery" .

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited April 2021
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    Take a step back and look again. Perspective.

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited April 2021
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    "Simplicity, patience, compassion.
    These three are your greatest treasures.
    Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
    Patient with both friends and enemies,
    you accord with the way things are.
    Compassionate toward yourself,
    you reconcile all beings in the world."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited April 2021
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    How do you tell a friend you haven't spoken to in years that you are a breast cancer patient?

  • betrayal
    betrayal Member Posts: 2,212
    edited April 2021
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    I would not tell them. If I did not need to tell them initially, then the passage of time would not change that decision. Especially if I hadn't talked to them in years since this doesn't appear to be a close relationship at all.

    What did I learn from this experience? Not all doctor's are trustworthy, truthful and that I had to be my own advocate more than I expected. Perhaps I expected too much from those I trusted with my treatment so shame on me for thinking they had my interests at heart. As a member of the healthcare profession, I am saddened by their actions and lack of empathy.

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited April 2021
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    Hello Betrayal. Thank you for your advice. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. You are absolutely right. I too have been duped by people who I thought cared about me but cancer really does weed out the “friends" out of your life. I have other friends who just plain abandoned me. One of them doesn't even know I'm dead or alive. Both people said, literally, that cancer and the tests I take are “fascinating". Yeah.

    I just got off the phone with my Oncologist today for a follow up and she said stress plays a roll in getting cancer. I think we all know that. What I wish is for every cancer patient to have a psychiatrist on hand to deal with PTSD, which I now have. I have my first PTSD appointment today so we will see how it goes!

    Hugs!

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited April 2021
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    safe.

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited April 2021
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    I had my first session for PTSD. My therapist has several years specializing in anxiety and PTSD. My therapist looked literally shocked and pained to hear my story and was silent throughout the whole video chat........then suggested a referral to someone else.

    Many years ago I had a doctor tell me, to my face, that I don't have any anxiety at all.

    This needs to stop. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

    THIS NEEDS TO STOP.

    There are too many suffering. Especially now. There needs to be an overhaul in quality mental health care that doesn't cost a small fortune. I was fortunate to find my previous therapists, but it took too long to find them. I have been seeing them for more than a decade for my other issues. Unfortunately PTSD is not in their wheelhouse. I decided to find my own, because, I mean, weare ALL experiencing some form of it. And then I get passed to someone else like a hot potato.

    I understand, and sincerely emphasize with therapists. I can't imagine the burdens they carry. They are some of the strongest people I've met, but still, please.......something needs to be done. I felt like I took a step back.

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited April 2021
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    Make your own 'stairs', step by step.

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited June 2021
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    bump.

  • nem126
    nem126 Member Posts: 37
    edited January 2022
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    I've been in EMDR therapy for awhile now for complex ptsd (CPTSD). It helps, more than regular therapy, I think. However, sometimes everything is just too overwhelming and it's definitely an uphill battle trying to get through this while on tamoxifen and no anxiety/depression medications. I'm planning to stop tamoxifen soon and start on an anti depressant/ anti anxiety med to fully address my mental health. I struggled through almost 4 years of tamoxifen and that's just going to have to be enough.

  • vandercat
    vandercat Member Posts: 43
    edited January 2022
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    nem126: You say you're quitting Tamoxifen and starting ant-anxiety meds - did someone tell you that the combination would be a bad thing? I've been on antidepressants for a long time and was diagnosed with BC two-and-a-half weeks ago.

  • parakeetsrule
    parakeetsrule Member Posts: 605
    edited January 2022
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    Tamoxifen and SSRIs aren't supposed to be taken at the same time. The SSRIs can reduce its effect.

  • vandercat
    vandercat Member Posts: 43
    edited January 2022
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    Do you know about anastrozole? TIA

  • parakeetsrule
    parakeetsrule Member Posts: 605
    edited January 2022
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    I don't know, I never took that one. Your oncologist should be able to help you figure all that out! You're also still very early in the process and things can change.
  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 8,085
    edited January 2022
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    Hi Vandercat,

    Here is a page where the Aromatase Inhibitors are explained: Aromatase Inhibitors.

    There are three aromatase inhibitors:

    If we can provide more information, please let us know!
  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
    edited July 2022
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    Has anyone who completed treatment have a new zest for life but then lose that after a year? I used to be so happy after I got the all clear that the cancer was gone but now I feel depressed.

  • ratherbesailing
    ratherbesailing Member Posts: 118
    edited July 2022
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    Phoenixrose8, it is very common for breast cancer survivors to struggle after they have completed treatment. Some say it is the vacuum of being on your own after so many months of constant treatment and people offering support. Sometimes we are left with side effects of treatment, or fears of recurrence. I'm going to venture a guess that Covid has made everything worse for many.

    Whatever the reason, know that you are not alone. Most people here will say things get better with time, but that may not help you now. So don't hesitate to get counseling (your oncologists may have recommendations.)

    Wishing you better days ahead.