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Topic: Depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation

Forum: Mental Health: Because Cancer Doesn't Just Affect Your Breasts —

Meet and support others who are affected by these issues around anxiety, depression & other emotional effects.

Posted on: Jul 9, 2021 07:38PM

BrushJanus50T wrote:

In May 2021 I was diagnosed with DCIS & subsequently had a lumpectomy. In 2009 at age 52 a complete hysterectomy was performed because there was a 25% chance I had uterine cancer. Instead of being relieved, I was furious. A week after the hysterectomy I experienced the most traumatic event of my life: I felt that another woman had replaced me, my genitalia was shrunken and if I did not a solution to this, I would have killed myself. ERT saved my life. Because I no longer had a uterus I was told I could take ERT for the rest of my life. Due to the Estrogen receptive status of my small, & clear margined DCIS my surgeon told me to stop the ERT immediately, thankfully my gynecologist gave me a tapering plan. I have psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune disease, and take biologic medication for it. I underwent two knee replacements due to the destruction of my joints. At this juncture I plan to refuse estrogen blocking drugs and plan to take the the smallest dose of ERT. I am a traumatized again and feel if I cannot continue using a small amount of ERT, I would rather die. I do not think doctors should be the gatekeepers to MY mental health. I view the proposed treatment will make me a eunuch. I believe that saving my breasts will kill who I am. I am angry, feel trapped and sad that I have to make this choice. I feel that cancer treatments offered to women is untenable for me. I do believe, if men had this disease, there would be alternative treatments. Men would not accept losing their vitality and sexuality so what should I? I don’t know why I am posting this because I don’t believe anyone can change my mind. I just want to share the psychological ramifications in the hopes that this will be addressed and doctors will treat patients as people, not just breasts

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Jul 9, 2021 09:35PM jhl wrote:

Brush,

I can hear your pain through your words. Do you see a psychiatrist or therapist? I ask because you still have a lot of trauma from your 2009 surgery and this more recent diagnosis seems to bring it all forward. Your comments about how we see ourselves as women after undergoing treatment does indeed change us. However, I disagree with your comments about men. The treatments for prostate and testicular cancers are really devastating for men. They also lose their vitality and sexuality. That said, there is no purpose in trying to force equivalency.

Please ask your BS or MO about a referral to someone who can help you process these feelings.

Be well,

Jane

Dx 11/15/2019, IDC: Cribriform, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)
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Jul 9, 2021 09:47PM Cowgirl13 wrote:

I, too, hear so much pain. I'd like to suggest that you see a psychiatrist who can diagnose whether you are depressed and/or suffering from PTSD. Meds have saved my life as I can experience overwhelming periods of depression and hopelessness. And I do come out of these episodes. Try to not make any decisions right now and call today to get an appointment. You don't have to do what the physiciatrist suggests, just get yourself there and take it from there. Praying for strength for you.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the Devil says: 'Oh crap! She's up! Dx 5/28/2009, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 6/17/2009 Chemotherapy 8/3/2009 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 12/21/2009 Hormonal Therapy 2/23/2010 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jul 9, 2021 10:17PM BrushJanus50T wrote:

Thank you for your thoughtful and encouraging comments. And thank you for pointing out that men, do indeed shoulder illnesses that compromise and lessens the qualities of their lives. I do see a psychiatrist and have speaking to my therapist, who I only talk to when needed which is now. I don’t believe there is a solution to this for me. I powerfully push against this disease. I cannot fathom a quality of life with the tools the medical community is suggesting. If I had an invasive cancer I know I would think differently. Thank you so much. I will keep you posted.

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Jul 9, 2021 10:19PM typhoon wrote:

BrushJanus50T - I'm so very sorry that you are suffering. You have been through so much, all of it traumatic. As others have suggested, please consider getting help and support for your mental and emotional needs - you've been diligent about taking care of your body, but your mind and heart deserve the same level of care. Sending you my best wishes, and please let us know how it goes.

Dx 10/23/2020, DCIS/IDC, Both breasts, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 12/9/2020 Lymph node removal: Left, Right, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Hormonal Therapy 1/14/2021 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jul 9, 2021 10:29PM typhoon wrote:

Brush - Just saw your comment. So glad that you are getting therapy. You're right - the choices we face and decisions we have to make can often seem unfair, with no *good* options, just varying degrees of bad options. Please remember, though, that you are the driver here. It is completely your choice on whether to pursue endocrine therapy (and my understanding is that many women with DCIS-only diagnoses opt out of Tamoxifen/AIs), and it is completely your choice regarding continuing some level of ERT (which some women also continue to take, despite ER+ cancers, for a variety of very valid reasons). Wishing you the very best!

Dx 10/23/2020, DCIS/IDC, Both breasts, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 12/9/2020 Lymph node removal: Left, Right, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Hormonal Therapy 1/14/2021 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jul 9, 2021 10:33PM BrushJanus50T wrote:

Thank you for reaching out to me. Like you, I have suffered from depression and anxiety. I am currently being successfully treated for it, however, understandably this has pushed through it. Many years ago I did experience PSTD, which I didn’t know at the time, due to another traumatic event. Looking back on it, all the associated behaviors of PSTD were there. Meds have saved my life too. Postpartum Depression undiagnosed for 9 months, the first day I took an antidepressant, it was like bam, leaves became brighter, more beautiful and shortly thereafter the unrelenting anxiety in my life left, I could laugh again and not ruminate. In this case I don’t think there’s an additional medication that will change how I feel. I refuse to lose me. Me as the person I am. I can never go back there. I will seek the best doctor who will take the wholeness of who I am and offer an acceptable plan for me. Maybe I’m in denial but I will travel to Mexico to get what I need. This my plan. THANK YOU

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Jul 9, 2021 10:50PM - edited Jul 9, 2021 10:57PM by AliceBastable

BrushJanus50T

I am so, so sorry you feel this way. I had endometrial/uterine cancer (it was officially endometrial, but the pathology showed it had slightly invaded the uterus, so I don't know what the hell to call it!) and a very thorough hysterectomy in 2008. Although I was 58, hormone tests showed I was nowhere near menopause before surgery. My gyn oncology surgeon would not allow HRT and I physically did surprisingly well without it. Physically. I signed up for a site similar to this, for gynecological diseases including cancer, and although it was mostly supportive, I was furious when one of my posts, discussing feeling neutered, was removed, with the crappy explanation that it might upset some people. Well, I was upset or I wouldn't have tried to discuss it! So I never really got to talk that through with anyone. I just tamped those feelings down as far as I could because I had no way to let them out. My body was already filled with arthritis and I'd had back surgery about 10 years earlier, then a hip replacement in 2010. In 2018, I was diagnosed with both breast cancer and kidney cancer. The breast cancer was very highly ER and PR positive, without my lady parts or HRT. I seem to have a large reserve supply, maybe behind my knee. So I gave up two more body parts. I took Tamoxifen for about a year, and then quit. Thanks to the kidney cancer, I can't take NSAIDs for the pain my joints create every day, just Tylenol, which barely takes the edge off. Then on one of my CT scans (standard nephrectomy follow-up), there were fatty spots on my liver. I did some poking around on Google (I refuse to call that research) and found that tamoxifen and fatty livers are a bad combination; I can't remember if there was a cause-effect situation, but definitely Tamoxifen exacerbates the problem. I need that liver to process the Tylenol that keeps me semi-functioning. I was also turning into a shrieky, cranky, horrible person on it. So I stopped the pill. I get crap from my MO about it, but I can live with that. Maybe I've upped my chances of recurrence or spread, but I've seen people who took their pills faithfully and still had the cancer make a return engagement. And I'm probably more afraid of a new and different cancer, with my track record, than being re-haunted by a ghost of cancer past.

Do what you have to for your body and mind. But maybe try counseling since you still seem so angry about the hysterectomy from 12 years ago. Fighting the past is just exhausting and never changes anything. And maybe you can get past thinking of yourself as a eunuch. I may be missing the parts to create and feed a baby (as if I'd want one at my age!) but, TMI warning, what's left in those nether regions still enjoys life.

ETA: I didn't see your subsequent posts since this took me a while to write. So substitute "continue" for "try" and best of luck to you.

Endometrial cancer 2010, basal cell multiples, breast cancer 2018, kidney cancer 2018. Boring. Hope it stays that way. Dx 5/2018, ILC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/10/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 8/7/2018 Radiation Therapy 10/28/2018 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Jul 10, 2021 01:54AM orangeflower wrote:

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and the two are intertwined.

My gyn told me she gave estrogen to a patient with a history of breast cancer because the woman's ovaries had been removed, and her severe hot flashes were seriously interfering with her life. Maybe most doctors wouldn't do this, but apparently some will. Just putting that out there.

Dx 1/29/2020, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 1/29/2020, IDC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 1/29/2020, DCIS, Left, 4cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/26/2020 Mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 6/15/2020 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Jul 10, 2021 05:28PM BrushJanus50T wrote:

You have endured so much and I am deeply sorry for your continued pain. I also admire you because your post shows your commitment to fight. You seem strong. Thank you for your encouragement and story. My thoughts are with you! I wish I could write more to you now. A big hug

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Jul 10, 2021 05:30PM BrushJanus50T wrote:

Thank you for your post. What you wrote put a big smile on my face and lightened my day. A yes mental health is just as important as physical health and they are intertwined. Thank you

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Jul 10, 2021 07:42PM WC3 wrote:

BrushJanus50T:

I think role of hormones and mental health and wellness are severely underconsidered by the medical community, but that may be partially because it is a difficult topic to touch without offending someone.

Perhaps tamoxifen is an option for you because while it blocks estrogen in breast tissue, it mimics estrogen in other parts of the body such as the uterus when present, skin, bones, and brain and possibly other tissues, so it may restore your sense of vitality while also suppressing any remaining DCIS or IDC.


Pathologic complete response (pCR) to chemotherapy. Dx 2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 5/31/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 11/14/2018 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole), Zoladex (goserelin) Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Aug 3, 2021 06:53PM Waves2Stars wrote:

BrushJanus50T, I went to a gyno this summer because of some bleeding issues. Was told I have a large fibroid causing uterine distortion and adenomyosis, which I already suspected because of super flooding periods. But she suggested there was necrosis in the fibroid which indicated it could be a uterine leiosarcoma (can’t remember if I’m spelling right). So she would have to do a full hysterectomy to prevent its metastasizing, said it was bleak but surgery would save me, gave me literature and studies written to surgeons about treatment. Basically, they can’t tell 100% if it’s cancer until they remove it, but if they don’t take the whole uterus and disturb the tumor, it will immediately metastasize, less than 5 years to live. But the literature also said if you do remove the whole uterus, chances of recurrence are still high. Plus, I could then have all the hormones I wanted. So it was a stupid crapshoot for me. I was angry because if feel like there is a commoditization of gynecological surgeries, there’s data to prove it, and it’s no big deal to remove female organs because, hey, you’re not having anymore kids so you don’t need them. I asked my gyn why they don’t remove a whole enlarged prostate on old men, even if it’s not cancer? He can probably pee better, he’s not having anymore kids, it’s not necessary because he can still have nice dry sex. She didn’t say anything. I had an mri, showing it is a normal necrosing fibroid. But I do have a polyp or hyperplasia. They couldn’t do the hysterscopy because of the distortion. I cancelled my appt for myomectomy and biopsy because I KNEW I would wake up w a hysterectomy. I decided I would take my chances, but scheduled a second opinion for my mom’s sake. Two weeks later I felt the lump.

I wanted hormones the rest of my life for my mental health. I had severe ppd, pms, insomnia since my late 20’s, and suicidal ideation just taking the pill for 3 months. Testosterone actually CURED my 10 year battle with anxiety and OCD. I haven’t been on it for a year, but I haven’t worried about giving people rabies, legionnaire’s disease, or checked the local news to make sure I hadn’t run over a homeless person once. I haven’t gotten into a confrontation with any strangers, lol! I did have disturbing apathy, but that’s nothing compared to what I used to deal with. I guess it rewired my brain. But besides dealing with body shame, the thing I’m most scared of with this dx is the possibility of going back to live in my own personal house of horrors, how I used to be.

I want to tell you it won’t happen, but no one can predict how you will fare. From reading this site in the last week, I’ve seen different therapies effecting women in different ways. There may be a therapy that will be tolerable to you but you won’t know for sure unless you try. Surely the trauma from your surgery and it’s fallout are compounding all the fear that comes with this dx, plus the complete lack of control over what’s happening to your body and mind.

Hormones are really vital to some women’s mental health, it’s no joke or nothing to minimize. I don’t have your exact experience but I think I have your exact fears. You’re not alone.

DX @ 47. IDC 2 cm, Luminal B Dx 7/19/2021, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 9/1/2021 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Stacked DIEP flap Hormonal Therapy 9/20/2021 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Aug 4, 2021 02:14PM - edited Aug 7, 2021 08:37PM by ayur88807

Psychologists use expressive arts therapy in many settings to help people explore difficult issues in their lives.

Art, music, and dance are forms of creative expression that can help you process and cope with emotional issues, including depression. Expressive therapy goes beyond traditional talk therapy. It focuses on creative outlets as a means of expression. This therapy can be especially helpful for people who find it difficult to talk about their thoughts and emotions.

Expressive therapy can include various forms of artistic expression. This can include:

  • art
  • music
  • dance
  • drama
  • writing and storytelling

In expressive therapy, the therapist encourages you to use these arts to communicate about emotions and life events. These are often subjects that you may find difficult to put into words.

healthline.com/health/depression/expressive-therapy#Overview1

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Aug 4, 2021 07:37PM BrushJanus50T wrote:

Thank you for sharing your story with me and I am sorry you have experienced so much trauma. It’s all so difficult. Some days it’s denial and planning to continue taking ERT, slowing confronting the reality breast cancer. Currently I mourning who I was. I have fought my whole life and out chased most negative things - this roadblock truly has me stumped or angry or sad. Sometimes I feel the hell with it. No longer feel suicidal but just beaten down. Just tired of it. I thank you, unless I read your message wrong, that you came out of this stronger and okay

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Aug 4, 2021 07:53PM BrushJanus50T wrote:

Thank you for your recommendations. Coincidentally I am a fine artist. I recently painted an image of a blood dripped scalpel retreating from a stitched up breast after a lumpectomy. I have done surgery art before which has been published and now is part of a hospital art collection: in these I celebrate surgery. The breast one, unlike the other ones, takes a darker turn. I am also writing a book about how I became an artist, the history from which it sprung (which was more than complicated) along with images of my paintings. I want my story to be published. The goal is to pull in the reader. So I do write. I’m trying to take this loss and make it art. I am trying to deal with it while continuing to paint in the vocabulary of my genre because that is what sells. I don’t paint to sell but very much feel affirmed when another person connects to what I’ve done - enough to want it in their home. Today I just feel exhausted from the whole thing. But I will stick some music buds in my ears and try to call up a positive energy. Unfortunately I rely on passionate muses to do this. So I am searching for passion which propels the best work - I will remember your cheerleading words and remain grateful to you.

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