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PTSD and cancer

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  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
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    Hi AlwaysmeC,


    Thank you so much for sharing and please, please know that you are NOT alone. I know EXACTLY how you feel.

    In a nutshell, my breast cancer was only caught when it spread to my collarbone lymph node. I literally had a women's check up a few months before and they couldn't feel anything, it could only be seen by mammogram but I am under 40, so, there ya go. Boom. Cancer. My blood work was even clean before. Anyways, the chemo portion of the treatment was literally hell on earth. I had almost every symptom in the book, including throwing up 5-7 times a day (unfortunately, not an exaggeration). After chemo was done, I was still throwing up everyday and my doctors gave me two brain scans that came back clean. My psychiatrist immediately said it's psychological. And it was. PTSD.

    I wanted to go into detail with my experience because I want people to know that mental illness is very real and debilitating, especially when going through treatment. You have no idea how many people suffer quietly and those around don't understand. They think “well you're done so why are you still acting this way". I too, cry when I think about the chemo. People don't understand that the flashbacks, the anxiety, and not to mention the physical symptoms that come with recovery. I know how horrible it is, and i can't even imagine having to go through another round of it. But listen to me, I am a huge believer in inner strength. I like to think of it like a Phoenix (sorry, I'm corny and a bit of a nerd). The Phoenix literally burns to ashes and rises up again, stronger and in touch with what really matters. You are Phoenix. You will be ok, I promise. You will be ok.

    Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I have a lot of articles and books I could suggest to help.


  • AlwaysMeC
    AlwaysMeC Member Posts: 107
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    Pheonixrose, I just turned a few days from 42 when I was diagnosed. I was finally getting to a place where I felt comfortable and somewhat in control of my life when the unexpected happened. Thank you again for offering your support and updating the thread with information. I really do hope that we all can rise from the ashes. And I really do think that a diagnosis like this changes people. We have no choice but to keep going through treatment if we want to move forward. It's like I have no choice but to be a different me to get through it. The problem is and was that I don't know what kind of me I am supposed to be, and I'm scared because I have been incapable of telling myself I will be okay physically and mentally because I can't even figure out who I am anymore. But I keep trying to get to that mental state. It's my goal lately to be mentally better so I can support my treatment process and support my body with a healthy mind. I know if I didn't have other people such as those in this forum, or the support group I am in, that I would have broken down even worse.

  • Phoenixrose8
    Phoenixrose8 Member Posts: 68
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    Hi AlwaysmeC,

    It is absolutely normal to feel this way. Our minds have been caught up in a whirlwind of who we are and what we can and can't do, feelings of hopelessness, etc. I know that if I was told that I need to go through chemo again, I would be devastated, but, hopeful and having a deep belief that my body, especially having already gone through chemo, will know how to handle it better the second time around. I know you feel lost and you are not sure what type of your self you should be, but I promise you, that person who you need to be is already here. It's the same person who got you through the first round, and it will get you through this one.

    Now, of course I'm not a psychologist, but I know that having one during this process will be very helpful. He/She can attack each feeling and thought as you go through the treatment and will help you tremendously. I wish I had one but they simply didn't have that. It is a lot harder than you think to get an oncologist psychiatrist. He/She will help you. Even just a little. If not, find another one, and then another one until you find someone you are comfortable with. Don't be afraid to tell them that you are not a good fit. You deserve the best care for your mind as well as your body.

    I know these negative thoughts about how you will react are strong right now, but remember, they are only thoughts. Thoughts can't hurt you. A good exercise is imagine a river with leaves floating on it. Each leaf you can put down a negative thought or feeling and then just watch them float away with no judgment or emotion. Also you can try deep breathing exercises. There is a lot of stuff out there but I don't want to impede anything you are working on with your psychiatrist.

    And finally, I'll always be here to talk.


    It will be alright. Just keep that in your mind.

  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,169
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    I am bumping this up so others will see because PTSD came up in another forum. I wanted to know more information about that disorder, up until a few months ago I didn't even know PTSD from cancer was a "thing," I know I can't be the only one who has questions about PTSD.

    The podcast helped me so much, and I now plan to seek mental health care outside my BC team, who totally brushed off my feelings. My team "blew me off" and made me feel as if my feelings were not only unimportant, but not worth their time. They told me all I needed was "to join a breast cancer group!" I was already part of BCO. Ironically, member posts did guide me to this forum and the podcast and hopefully put me on a path to finding mental help.

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 8,087
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    Bumping this topic to start conversation again around this.