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Topic: Wife diagnosed and dealing with depression and anxiety

Forum: For Caregivers, Family, Friends and Supporters —

A place to share your struggles and concerns about supporting and caring for a person you love diagnosed with breast cancer with others who understand.

Posted on: Jul 14, 2019 06:05AM

rpo81 wrote:

Hi everyone,

So I'm new to this forum after my wife recommended me to come here. Looks like an amazing place for us likeminded people to share experiences and difficulties. So here's our story.

Last year September my wife was diagnosed with stage 2, grade 2 breast cancer after feeling a lumb in one of her breasts. She was 30 yrs old at the time. Under the circumstances we've been lucky I suppose since it was and is treatable. Until now she has received a mastectomy, chemo, IVF (freezing of eggs), chemo and since 2 weeks doing hormonol therapy for at least 2 years. Tomorrow (Monday) she will undergo a second surgery to replace the current breast implant. In September she has to undergo radiotherapy 5 days a week for 3 weeks. Chemo is now done since a little more than a month and her energy is coming back as well as her hair. Amazing to see how fast her body is recovering after 6 months of chemo.

But now there's my story. Ever since my wife's diagnosis it's been a roller coaster with hospital appointments, hospital emergency care in the weekend, etc. Emotionally and mentally it's been a hell. I just haven't dealt with that and tried to ignore or even suppress it. But the truth is it's been hard for me to see the woman I love and want to grow old with (me 38 and she 31) go through everything that she did. To realize that cancer wiill now be a part of our lives, lurking in the shadows. Before she was diagnosed I was in the middle of job interviews for a new job. After putting that on hold for a while my wife and I agreed we wouldn't put our future on hold so last March I finally started a new job. Although I love it and things are going well it's also pressing on me. I spend 10-12 hours from home 4 days a week. Though my wife supports it and my company knows our situation and gives us space to do what we need. But lately more and more everything is becoming too much. I am very tired, physically, emotionally and mentally. Easy to be annoyed, angry to the world and loosing focus. And afraid. Afraid I might get the big C as well. Because if a healthy young woman without family history and no genetic mutations can get it then why not me as well. 2 Months ago I lost my drivers licence temporarily because of speeding. Although with the help of a lawyer I managed to get it back it is temporary in theory. End of this month I will have to appear in court to meet with the governmennt's DA (if I compare it to the US version) in where I will have to explain my actions and will hear my punishment. Probably you can understand this is not helping my wife at all as she is dependent on me. But it's a direct result from what I described in this post.

Honestly I feel like I've digged myself in a hole and although I am aware of it I can't seem to climb out. It probably doesn't help that I'm not a person who shares easily. My wife and I have friends and family around us who are there if/when we need them but for sharing it's a different thing you know. How are you - partners of diagnosed wifes - dealing with all of it and what advice would you have for me?

Thank you for spending time to read my post!

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Jul 14, 2019 07:12AM - edited Jul 14, 2019 07:15AM by Fairydragonfly

Hi rpo81.

I'm hoping someone (a partner or caregiver) will respond soon, but wanted to reach out anyways. While I am going through my breast cancer journey right now, last year I was the primary caregiver for my father after unexpectedly losing my mother to cancer.

To help, I stayed with my father in another province. I put my entire life on hold and shifted my focus to him and his care. I have no regrets in doing that, but can appreciate the difficulties that caregivers and loved ones experience.

One thing that helped me significantly was going for counseling through my dad's regional cancer society. I have discovered that the same thing exists here for those helping me through my own cancer journey. The social worker I met with helped me deal with many of the emotions and practical stuff that comes from caring for a loved one. She was a lifesaver for me, as I have had depression and anxiety since my teens and coupled with trying to process my grief over my mom and care for my dad - I was scared I was going to go over the edge.

Another important lesson I learned was to ask and accept help OFTEN. Don't wait for the times when you're at the end of your rope or have no other alternatives. People genuinely want to help. So if someone asks how, tell them. My dad's neighbours took care of snow removal and cutting the grass. His friends came and helped sort through dad's tools and equipment in order to sell it. His neighbour recommended a reliable and affordable house cleaner, which was a godsend for me. If you need something, even trivial, just ask.

Know that your fears and emotions are a normal reaction to a horrible situation. Reaching out to this site is a huge first step. If your regional cancer society doesn't offer counseling, find out if your work has an employee assistance program. Find out what resources exist in your community to help you as a caregiver. If you live in Canada, I can send you a few links.

Keeping you and your wife in my thoughts. ❤️

DX at age 43. Weak staining ER, Oncotype score 50, BRCA1 mutation. Lost both parents to cancer in 2018. Dx 4/17/2019, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 4/30/2019 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 7/4/2019 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jul 14, 2019 06:49PM edwards750 wrote:

You both are in tough situations. We do forget sometimes the emotional and physical drain a cancer DX has on the caregiver. My FIL was that person when my MIL was DX with Alzheimer’s disease. He finally agreed he could no longer do it by himself. It was difficult for him to admit he needing help but it was obvious he had to. The toll it took on him was heartbreaking.

I would definitely ask and allow people to help. It’s not a crime admitting the situation is overwhelming and exhausting because it is. There are no two ways about it. Also definitely talk to a counselor. I had a patient advocate who was a godsend. Just being able to confess you are at wit’s end would be helpful.

We aren’t super powers. Everyone has a breaking point. Perfectly understandable.

My sister was just DX with Stage IV and my BIL is now the caregiver. He is at my sister’s side for everything. I know he should be but I also know it’s emotionally and physically draining for him too. My siblings and I sent restaurant gift cards, flowers and cards. She lives in another state.

So take care of yourselves too.

Diane



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Jul 15, 2019 06:43PM OnTarget wrote:

I am not a caregiver, but I can tell you that my husband has been reaching out to his friends and been getting support there. His colleagues at work are friends and people he knows with cancer are coming out of the woodwork. I don't consider him someone who talks about his feelings well, but I do think that talking in general about cancer has been helpful for him.

I wish I had more to offer! I'd ask my husband, but he would probably not be able to put it into words well.

Cancer is really scary and stressful. Definitely the hardest thing I've faced in my life.

I'll be thinking good thoughts for you and your wife.

Diagnosed at 42, Oncotype score 16, ITC in one node- considered node negative Dx 4/8/2019, ILC, Left, 3cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 4/23/2019, ILC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 5/15/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Hormonal Therapy 6/13/2019 Zoladex (goserelin) Chemotherapy 8/5/2019 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Aug 1, 2019 08:50AM vidal1993 wrote:

Hello Everyone.

Reaching out.

My wife was diagnosed in May 2019. It is stage 2A, lymph positive. She will undergo surgery later this month, or in early September, with chemotherapy and radiation to follow. As if that wasn't bad enough, she is also undergoing investigations of her thyroid, where 3 cm nodules have been detected. Although the doctors told us this is not related to the breast cancer, it is unsettling to consider that her mother required a thyroidectomy, and eventually died of thyroid cancer.

We are terrified, frankly. I am 45 years old, and my wife is 43. We have two young daughters, aged 6 and 4. My wife is generally strong and resilient, but I worry because she has had some struggles with depression and anxiety in the past.

Right now, it is the calm before the storm of treatment and rehabilitation that will take place over the next year or so.

I wonder how I'm going to manage. I am the breadwinner in our house, and in a stressful profession where long hours are routine.

Anybody else out there in a similar boat?

Let's hear from you. Cheers.


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Aug 1, 2019 09:10AM GiddyupGirl wrote:

Vidal - I am sorry you and your wife find yourselves in this situation. It definitely isn't easy. My gran had thyroid cancer many years ago and is in her 90's going strong. Talk to your wife's care manager (MO nurse navigator) they certainly can give her something for anxiety/depression. You need to look after you. Remember for safety in an airplane problem put the oxygen on yourself first or you can't help anyone else. If you have family and close friends that you can share this with have them help out. If you both have a plan in place it will make this easier. Wishing you all the best

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Aug 1, 2019 11:54PM WC3 wrote:

It sounds like you could use a vacation. After chemotherapy my friend took me on a trip and it was nice to get away and do something unrelated to cancer. Also, is it possible to work fewer hours?

Dx 2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 6/1/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 11/15/2018 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab)
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Aug 2, 2019 06:41AM vidal1993 wrote:

Thanks GiddyupGirl and WC3 for your responses and good wishes.

We planned a brief vacation 2 weeks ago (10th anniversary), but had to cancel it because the team ordered tests on short notice (Mugga? scan). My parents took our kids.

I have been reducing my hours lately (I am a practicing lawyer), and thankfully my colleagues understand.

Regarding chemotherapy, what I understand is that you are extremely fatigued in the days immediately after, and your energy builds back up until you get another dose.

Is that accurate?

Anyone out there have young kids as they went through this?

Look forward to all replies.



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Aug 2, 2019 07:25AM ElaineTherese wrote:

Hi vidal!

Re: chemo, for me, the side-effects hit on Day 3 and lasted a few days. How much energy resumes may depend on the chemo regimen. I did dose dense Adriamycin + Cytoxan, which means I had my chemo every two weeks instead of every three weeks. That regimen gives less time for you to regain your energy. After four doses of AC, I had weekly Taxol (+ Herceptin + Perjeta because my cancer was HER2+). That gave me even less time to recover.

My kids weren't that young (twin boys who were 12 and a daughter who was 16). But, it went OK. Friends offered to help, and they helped pick up the kids from after-school activities, sports practices, and games. To me, that was a huge help because my husband couldn't always get home from work in time to drive the kids places. Hopefully, you have some friends who could help out with whatever challenges your family faces.

((Hugs)) Best wishes to you and your family.

DX IDC June 28, 2014, 5 cm., 1 node tested positive (fine needle biopsy); 0/20 after neoadjuvant chemo + ALND; Grade 3; ER+ PR+ HER2+ Neoadjuvant chemotherapy starting 7/23/14 ACX 4, Taxol X 12, Perjeta X 4; Herceptin: one year Chemotherapy 7/23/2014 AC Targeted Therapy 9/17/2014 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 9/17/2014 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 9/17/2014 Taxol (paclitaxel) Surgery 1/12/2015 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary Hormonal Therapy 2/25/2015 Aromasin (exemestane), Zoladex (goserelin) Radiation Therapy 3/9/2015 Breast, Lymph nodes
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Aug 2, 2019 09:13AM vidal1993 wrote:

Thank you ElaineTherese.

The "side-effects" of chemo, can you describe them? How tired is she likely to be? Would she be immobilized, ie lying-in bed all day?

Our children will be returning to school in September, and will need to be picked up and dropped off in the mornings.

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Aug 2, 2019 10:00AM ElaineTherese wrote:

Hi!

The side-effects from chemo vary for everyone. AC made me spacy and slowed me down, physically and mentally. On Taxol, I was mentally sharper, but I got diarrhea on Day#3, which I managed with Imodium. Taxol also made it difficult for me to keep up with my sons when we were scootering or engaged in other physical activities. But, that was me.

When I was diagnosed at age 46, I was otherwise healthy and active. I worked through chemo and dropped off/picked up my sons from school on most days. My daughter went to a private high school about a half an hour away; my husband dropped her off, but we relied on friends to help pick her up from school and other activities.

I worked, but I asked my boss for a reduction of responsibilities. He allowed me to quit some committees and I worked at home for three days a week.

Different women respond to chemo differently. Yes, some do end up spending days in bed. Some end up with hospitalizations from infections and the like. Some end up dehydrated, and need extra fluids at the clinic. You'll have to see how your wife responds, I guess. ((Hugs))

DX IDC June 28, 2014, 5 cm., 1 node tested positive (fine needle biopsy); 0/20 after neoadjuvant chemo + ALND; Grade 3; ER+ PR+ HER2+ Neoadjuvant chemotherapy starting 7/23/14 ACX 4, Taxol X 12, Perjeta X 4; Herceptin: one year Chemotherapy 7/23/2014 AC Targeted Therapy 9/17/2014 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 9/17/2014 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 9/17/2014 Taxol (paclitaxel) Surgery 1/12/2015 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary Hormonal Therapy 2/25/2015 Aromasin (exemestane), Zoladex (goserelin) Radiation Therapy 3/9/2015 Breast, Lymph nodes
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Aug 2, 2019 11:03AM WC3 wrote:

I had taxotere and carboplatin for chemotherapy, every 3 to 4 weeks. I was bed bound between days 2 through 5 with 5 being the worst and while I did not have a ton of diarrhea, it snuck up on me when I did so I had to stay near a toilet much of the time. Not right next to, I had to keep myself to shops and so on that had customer restrooms.

About a month after my final infusion, my biggest issue was fatigue. I went on a trip maybe two months after it but I had surgery after chemotherapy so may have otherwise gone sooner.

Ironically on vacation I ran in to a lady who's middle part hair line looked like mine three weeks past my first infusion when I was doing cold capping and it didn't work well. I guess she was either feeling better than I was at that point or maybe she lived in the area and was on a mini vacation.

Dx 2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 6/1/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 11/15/2018 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab)
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Aug 2, 2019 11:28AM vidal1993 wrote:

What about the lumpectomy? My wife will have the two masses removed, also a single lymph node removed.

How debilitating will that be? I understand it will likely be about 3-4 weeks of intensive recovery.

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Aug 2, 2019 02:18PM - edited Aug 2, 2019 02:19PM by edj3

The lumpectomy is uncomfortable for sure. The sentinel lymph node incision was far more painful for me. She will have some restrictions in terms of what she can/can't lift so the kids will need to know about that.

Her immediate recovery post-op will also depend on how she tolerates general anesthesia. Some of us have no issues (I am not one of those people) and others take a bit longer to get past that.

Oh and edited to say that I walked the same week of my lumpectomy and ran the second week. So there's one data point.

Dx 4/9/2019, DCIS/IDC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Dx 5/6/2019, LCIS, Left, <1cm, 0/1 nodes Surgery 5/6/2019 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Radiation Therapy 6/1/2019 Whole-breast: Breast
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Aug 2, 2019 02:18PM Trishyla wrote:

For a lumpectomy? Maybe one or two days recovery. A week would be really unusual.

A couple of weeks would be the recovery time for a full mastectomy.

Good luck.

Trish

Dx 8/30/2016, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 8/30/2016, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Dx 9/6/2016, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 9/28/2016 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 4/4/2017 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Chemotherapy 8/4/2017 Xeloda (capecitabine)
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Aug 2, 2019 02:25PM ElaineTherese wrote:

Again, recovery from a lumpectomy depends on the BC patient. I went back to work part-time the day after my lumpectomy. Of course, I don't have a strenuous job (I'm a college professor), so that was possible. It was difficult for me to raise my arms above my chest for a bit, so I wrote on the lower part of the blackboard/white board. I ended up with a drain (I had 20 lymph nodes removed), and I had it for awhile. In retrospect, I would have gotten the drain removed sooner if I had been less active.

If your wife is otherwise healthy, lacks other health conditions, and is high-energy, the surgery probably won't require extensive recovery. She probably needs to get some tight sports bras to prevent a seroma from forming and to take it easy. Have her visit the thread "Lumpectomy Lounge."

DX IDC June 28, 2014, 5 cm., 1 node tested positive (fine needle biopsy); 0/20 after neoadjuvant chemo + ALND; Grade 3; ER+ PR+ HER2+ Neoadjuvant chemotherapy starting 7/23/14 ACX 4, Taxol X 12, Perjeta X 4; Herceptin: one year Chemotherapy 7/23/2014 AC Targeted Therapy 9/17/2014 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 9/17/2014 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 9/17/2014 Taxol (paclitaxel) Surgery 1/12/2015 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary Hormonal Therapy 2/25/2015 Aromasin (exemestane), Zoladex (goserelin) Radiation Therapy 3/9/2015 Breast, Lymph nodes

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