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PTSD and Cancer. - I'm Angry


I blindly followed my GYN doctor's advice and had a hysterectomy I probably didn't need or could have put off, as I didn't have major issues. Afterwards I was put on estrogen. Within seven months I was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes - estrogen positive. After the diagnosis I retreated to my bed for days. I remember the GYN doctor calling to apologize and saying "this had never happened to him before".

Just as blindly, I followed the doctors advice and went through aggressive chemotherapy, then surgery, then radiation. At least in this case I blindly followed because I was in shock at the cancer diagnosis.

I just blindly showed up when and where I was told to be. I heard the doctors talk to me, but did I understand what was going to happen, what was happening and what happened during treatment - I don't know. An example: First meeting was with the oncologist and the surgeon. Their action plan was chemotherapy for four months, then surgery. The surgeon got on the computer and showed me a bra she wanted me to get. I heard her. I saw what kind of bra she was talking about, but it never dawned on me to go buy a bra. It was just an abstract piece of information in my mind.

After the surgery, just as blindly, I went through twenty-three radiation treatments.

After five years I was declared cancer free.

BUT -- I'm angry! I shouldn't have gotten breast cancer and I'm sure in my heart that I wouldn't have gotten it if I hadn't had the hysterectomy and started the estrogen replacement therapy.

Ailments and health conditions arise and I keep attributing them to the chemotherapy and radiation side effects. Hypothyroid, ongoing GERD, unexplained kidney damage, unexplained heart damage. What other damage is there?

I'm angry!!!!!

Everyone of you are correct - They cured the cancer - the cancer I shouldn't have gotten. I should be happy. I should be letting the world know I'm a survivor and wearing pink everyday. But I'm not happy and I don't feel like a survivor. I feel like a person who endured cancer.

A doctor I recently talked to, told me that if I hadn't had a CT scan because my stomach hurt, I wouldn't even know I had kidney damage. It's true. The same thing goes for the heart issues. Am I dying? No. Are these recent relevations adversely affecting my present? No. Am I angry? Yes. Can I let it go? I don't know how. 😭


  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,945

    From everything I've heard and read, cancers are present much longer than seven months, usually years. The cells are too small to be detectable for quite a while. So that short time on hormones probably wasn't the cause. As you can see by my information, gynecological and breast issues can be related due to our own bodies pumping out estrogen. I had endometrial cancer in 2008, with a very thorough hysterectomy (only left my vagina). I did not have any hormone replacement, but my own body made enough estrogen to cause breast cancer, found in 2018. I've still never had anything that felt like menopause, no hot flashes, and I'm in my 70s. I'm a walking talking estrogen pump.

    I had a pre-op no contrast chest CT before my lumpectomy. Surprise, I had a good-sized kidney cancer! That came out a few months after the lumpectomy, before radiation. THANKS to the scans I have to get after my total nephrectomy, they've found not one, but TWO aneurysms, lung nodules, a fatty liver, lymph nodes in my abdomen that are enlarged enough that I've needed a biopsy on one and surveillance on the others, diverticulosis, and an enlarged spleen. I THINK that's it, all found in just three and a half years. The only tricky part is which doctor follows what body part. I switched to a better PCP than the one I fired, and I keep her busy like an air traffic controller. Except for one small shrinking lung scar from radiation, none were caused by any treatment I had. We have bodies! Things happen to them. Because we get scans, we're just aware of what's going on inside. People who don't get scans don't have a clue what their bodies are doing until something pops or rots or falls off or whatever.

    Oh, I would not be caught DEAD in pink. That whole "I'm a survivor" shit is stupid in my opinion. I had cancer. I do not, to my knowledge, currently have cancer. With my track record, I may have cancer again someday. But for now... I live.

  • sondraf
    sondraf Member Posts: 1,616

    Id highly recommend therapy. I carried my diagnosis for 18 months before I knew it was time to get in a professional as I was angry at EVERYTHING and it was coming out at random times in unhealthy ways. My therapist had bc herself and specialized in treating bc patients so I didn't need to 'translate' terms for her, which was very helpful. I felt much better and much more in control after 12 weekly sessions with her and will have no hesitation booking her again when and if needed. I am not, and have not been on, any antidepressants because why add some more drugs to the process if I don't need to?

    Anger is part of the processing process and sometimes its easy to get stuck on it. No one says you need to go out an pink it up (I hate it too and refuse to engage with it - I shouldnt have gotten this either at 42, but thanks to some unknown faulty genes here we are) and your feelings are valid absolutely. But its much better to engage, examine, and deal with those feelings to be able to move forward in a positive mindset (and I dont mean the toxic positivity approach of just saying everything is great to yourself either!) so you can cope next time feelings come out of nowhere or come out at specific times (scans, tests, etc).

  • sarah_78
    sarah_78 Member Posts: 119

    I got Hodgkin at 33 y/o and received in-field radiotherapy, that only touched a small portion of my breast and here we are, 10 years later breast cancer. Back then I tried to argue against radiation and wanted longer chemo to avoid it, no one listened to me.

    Am I angry? Yes.

    Do I understand why the doctors insisted? Also yes.

    It is very common to throw the kitchen sink at first occurrence of a malignancy since if it comes back, prognosis might not be that good. As for Hodgkin's, if it relapsed, I'd have to go through autonomous bone marrow transplant with chances to work being about 50%.

    What I don't understand though was why they didn't educate me to schedule yearly mammos after 35. I was only told casually "oh by the way check your breasts, it increases risk of breast cancer". Had I known the risk was so high, I would have stayed on top of things and perhaps it wouldn't have spread to lymph nodes and hopefully that is it but I'll never know.

    I'd like to write, it is ok to be angry but probably for the sake of mind, it is better to come to terms with how things are and move on. I am trying that too. *hugs*

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 745

    I'm so sorry you're feeling this way.

    I'll say the world can be a sucky place and anger *can* be an empowering and appropriate response. But if your anger feels like it's getting in your way, hurting you, or disempowering you, I definitely second SondraF on getting some extra support.

    FWIW, I doubt the procedure and estrogen therapy caused your cancer. The timeline is too compressed. We also just don't know that much about how cancer is caused. Medicine has discovered associations between estrogen therapy and breast cancer, but still plenty of women get years of estrogen therapy (from birth control pills to HRT) and never get it and plenty of women never have any estrogen therapy and get breast cancer anyway. The nature of things is that you can't know what would've happened if you'd gone the other way and not gotten the hysterectomy. You could likely still have got cancer on top of whatever issues the hysterectomy helped address.

    I did months of hormone stimulation to freeze my eggs a couple of years before I was diagnosed, and I've always wondered if that played a role. Doctors tell me it's impossible to know, and they will actually purposely do hormonal stimulation on young women after diagnosis and before chemotherapy to preserve fertility.

    One book that really helped me live with crappy situations is called "Loving what is".

    Hang in there! HeartTry not to blame yourself or your doctor. Life can be like this sometimes, it doesn't have to be anyone's fault.

  • tsaerb20
    tsaerb20 Member Posts: 6

    To Alice B,

    You sound like a FIGHTER to me. Makes me think of the program from years ago with Betty White in which they would sing, "We're not going to take it...ANYMORE!!!

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,945


    Nah, I'm not a fighter, I just keep plodding along and try to line up good professionals to do most of the medical thinking for me. I save my fighting for other issues.

  • tsaerb20
    tsaerb20 Member Posts: 6

    To AliceBastable,

    Sounds like you found good people to help you. I just meant that you don't give just keep on keeping on, which is what we are all trying to do - we're not quitters.