Skip to main content

Some of us who have a cancer diagnosis are able to treat it as merely a bump in the road. Whether because it’s caught at an early stage, or their treatments are relatively simple, or their support networks are extraordinarily strong, or some combination of all, these folks can deal with their cancer matter-of-factly and move on.

Others of us are not so fortunate. The perceived loss of control of our bodies; the staggering and sometimes unaffordable cost of treatment, financial and otherwise; the real threat of mortality: for some of us, these factors and others make the condition itself difficult to handle psychologically. And for yet another segment of the population with cancer, these factors can in turn contribute to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Although I am not a mental health professional, let me propose a working definition of PTSD for our purposes here. If you choose to dispute my lay terminology in the comments, that’s fine; I certainly don’t shy away from learning more precision.

In some ways, an older (DSM-III-R, 1987) definition of PTSD—as a response to a stressor that is “outside normal human experience”—resonates most strongly with me in terms of a connection to cancer than the newer versions, which tend to be more specific. [The trigger event(s) for PTSD usually involve, one way or another, a real sense that one’s life is in danger. That’s why the populations originally considered most likely to experience PTSD were combat troops, first responders, survivors of severe natural disasters, and survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual abuse. Also see post rational’s comment below for a concise description of psychic numbness.] While the rate of cancer diagnoses has increased, partly due to our aging population and partly due to factors whose share of responsibility remains controversial, the reaction of many who are diagnosed with it still includes an element of surprise and disbelief. That seems especially true for those who have little to no family history of cancer, those who are diagnosed with cancer as a child or young adult (and their parents/caregivers), and those whose diagnosis of cancer occurs when it is already advanced.

There are three broad categories of psychological symptoms associated with PTSD: intrusive thoughts; avoidance behaviors; arousal. For “intrusive thoughts,” think flashbacks, though other types of disrupted cognition are also pertinent. Avoidance behaviors include (often unconsciously) structuring one’s life in order to limit, if not eliminate, the encountering of “triggers” that might remind one of the traumatic incident(s), as well as psychic numbing and other attempts at self-protection. And arousal can encompass heightened responsiveness to sensory stimuli, along with sleep difficulties and irritability, among other reactions.

One other important element of PTSD concerns its late or persistent onset. It’s considered psychologically healthy to be able to bounce back from a trauma, even a major one, within several months from the event. If symptoms persist, or emerge suddenly, several months afterwards, then the diagnosis potentially comes into play.

Until relatively recently—the late 1990s, from what I can tell by tracking back PubMed-related articles and the DSM timeline of revisions—the concept of relating PTSD to cancer was not generally accepted or studied. Since then, there has been increased interest in studying it, with researchers from several fields besides psychology or oncology, paying particular attention to several distinct populations: adults with advanced cancers; adults who have survived childhood cancers; caregivers, particularly mothers, for children with cancer; and bereaved family members of those who have died from cancer.

The estimates of occurrence among these populations vary dramatically. Early on, based on one 1996 study whose abstract I read in PubMed, the estimates seemed low, starting at 4% of a small study group with current symptoms of PTSD--but the researchers concluded that their population had a lifetime rate higher than would be found in the “healthy” population. More recently, in a 2013 study done on 1,139 breast cancer patients from around the country, the prevalence was estimated to be as high as 23%.

Please join me after the jump for some more personal reflections on the topic.

Unfortunately for me, I have already had some direct personal experience with PTSD in the wake of having been sexually abused as an adolescent. So the idea that PTSD would be a possibility in the process of dealing with cancer was not entirely foreign. On the other hand, at least some of the techniques that I used to manage and reduce my PTSD-related reactions are still useful, and have probably helped prevent my development of the full-blown condition again. I’ve learned others more recently.

The most disruptive symptom I had of PTSD related to my cancer diagnosis has been sleeplessness. It has been subtle but persistent; for quite some time I attributed it to my nightsweats. But more recently, as the latter symptom subsides, the sleep disturbances have become more noticeable.

My most common symptom, apart from that, would be a hypersensitivity to any little ache and pain in my body. We’ve had some discussion of “cancerhead” here already—that sense that anything that goes wrong (even if you know you twisted your knee when you tripped down the steps) is automatically related to a recurrence or spread of cancer. I’m usually able to be reasonable and talk myself out of such a morbid reaction, but sometimes it’s more difficult than others to do so.

From my cursory review of the approximately 180 abstracts I located in PubMed by searching for “cancer” and “PTSD” in the title or abstract, there is not much research being done, yet, in assessing the clinical significance, if any, of PTSD among the populations of people with and/or affected by cancer. There are some related to quality of life, and some related to long-term survival prospects, but not as many as one might think.

I do not think I am overstating the case when I suggest that PTSD symptoms may be much more common, even if they are not part of a full-blown condition, than most people acknowledge. Nor do I think I am exaggerating the potential of PTSD to interfere with one's ability to pursue recovery. It takes a lot of effort to care for oneself during a medical crisis, regardless of the extent of support one can get from loved ones. Along with the physical challenges presented by cancer, which can be significant, permanent, and life-altering, the logistical challenges of negotiating the system of health care (and potentially more than one, and not necessarily compatible ones, either) are also daunting. I can well imagine that someone dealing with PTSD to a significant degree could lose ground that might be impossible to regain.

My own coping skills have not generally been pharmaceutical ones, though there was a stretch of time when I was a regular consumer of Ativan. I found meditation and visualization, restorative yoga, breathing, aromatherapy, walks in the woods, and singing all to be very calming and therapeutic. The interruption of obsessive thinking, or rumination, is key for me to maintain my psychological and emotional equilibrium. Some would include vigorous physical activity on that list. I probably would, too, if I engaged in it more often!

[In addition, the support I received from early on (beginning less than two months after my surgery) from the local Cancer Support Community was invaluable, and I should never post a diary about my recovery without including them for special thanks.  Annan reminded me inadvertently of my oversight. I have taken part in a weekly support group for over two years, and also regular yoga and meditation sessions they offer—all for free.]

My questions to you tonight are these: Do you think there is merit in considering  PTSD as a relevant factor in holistic treatments of cancer? If so, what sorts of studies would you propose, including the populations you think would benefit from them most?

It’s fine as well if you are willing to disclose experiences that you might have had with PTSD and cancer, but I realize that for some it is too personal a matter to discuss here.

**[Note: Copy inside the [ ], in two places above, was added 7/9/13 in the wake of reading diary comments. Thanks to post rational and annan in particular for their input.]

Monday Night Cancer Club is a Daily Kos group focused on dealing with cancer, primarily for cancer survivors and caregivers, though clinicians, researchers, and others with a special interest are also welcome. Volunteer diarists post Monday evenings between 7-8 PM ET on topics related to living with cancer, which is very broadly defined to include physical, spiritual, emotional and cognitive aspects. Mindful of the controversies endemic to cancer prevention and treatment, we ask that both diarists and commenters keep an open mind regarding strategies for surviving cancer, whether based in traditional, Eastern, Western, allopathic or other medical practices. This is a club no one wants to join, in truth, and compassion will help us make it through the challenge together.

Originally posted to Monday Night Cancer Club on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 04:50 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Welcome everyone to MNCC! (56+ / 0-)

    Whether you are a long-time visitor or someone here to check things out, we are glad to have you here.

    I want to report to all that I had my quarterly oncology consult today. My oncologist, generally a taciturn sort, was very enthusiastic yet again about my prospects for long-term survival, if not complete recovery. (We don't really talk about "cure"--and yet she says she is "very encouraged" on a regular basis by my dramatic remission.)

    So, hooray for me! Next consult is in October, with a CT.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 04:27:10 PM PDT

  •  Anecdotal evidence suggests to me (18+ / 0-)

    that a false positive cancer diagnosis can also result in PTSD, based on many conversations I've had over the years.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 04:56:26 PM PDT

    •  Hmm, that is plausible. Also unfortunate. n/t (11+ / 0-)

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 05:08:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The false negative (9+ / 0-)

      caused me about two months of pain. Whatever markers the blood work is supposed to detect were at such low levels that the only thing I was told was "Well, the good news is you don't have cancer!"

    •  Makes sense to me (4+ / 0-)

      Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be experienced.

      by DarkHawk98 on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:10:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oversight of screening is so important (5+ / 0-)

      From the cancer advocacy perspective, its so important to monitor the quality and quantity of cancer screening programs.  Damage, both psychological and physical, results from bad screening.  

      Too much emphasis on cancer screening in healthy patients, especially in people who aren't at risk, can be very harmful, e.g. unnecessary screening, biopsies or even "preventive" medications.  I'm always shocked and saddened when public officials and charities begin pushing all teenage girls to do manual breast exams.  

      First, teenagers are at extremely low risk of getting breast cancer and second, manual self-exam is a very inaccurate method of breast screening.  It doesn't reduce mortality or risk, but it creates a great deal of psychological distress when girls find naturally occurring lumps and end up going through biopsies.

      The same concern is warranted for genetic testing.  Since the SCOTUS decision, I hope we don't see a widespread marketing effort to push healthy, low-risk people into getting genetic testing for various cancers.

      "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being in DC."

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 05:22:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I did find my cancer through a manual self exam. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peregrine kate

        I wonder if having examined them since a teen I was fairly familiar with the normal lumps and bumps?

        Because really, I didn't go straight from there to a biopsy. I went to a doctor, a mammogram, an ultrasound and then a biopsy.

        I don't get the whole genetic testing and prophylactic treatment. But... just as tests worry me so I avoid them, if tests help a person to NOT worry I say go for it.

        Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

        by ZenTrainer on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:05:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Body awareness is important (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peregrine kate, elfling

          Knowing your breasts, your body, etc. well enough to know when something is wrong is very important.  The expert guidelines today recommend women be aware of changes to their breasts and talk to their doctor.  

          The problems lie with the extremely detailed exams that the government and charities used to spend millions promoting to women.  Women who do breast self-exam are supposed to be educated about the risks and benefits of doing it, the downside being the risk of screening & diagnostic mammograms and biopsies on benign lumps.  As has been mentioned already, they result in physical and psychological damage as well as the cost for unnecessary procedures.  Promoting the practice in pre-teen and teen girls is both ineffective and somewhat cruel.  

          I found my lump through self exam, too, but, like all self-exams, they're not "early detection".  Research has shown that self-exam and routine mammography don't reduce breast cancer mortality.  

          "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being in DC."

          by Betty Pinson on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:35:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for elaborating. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ZenTrainer

            But I have another question. You say:

            Research has shown that self-exam and routine mammography don't reduce breast cancer mortality.  
            I'm assuming there are studies done to compare populations, in the aggregate, to produce these rather discouraging results.
            Is there any screening test that DOES reduce mortality for BC patients?
            And, by extension, what treatments exist, if any, that do appear to have a significant impact on long-term progression-free survival rates?
            If I understand the problem correctly--and please tell me if I'm wrong--part of the issue to sort out regarding BC dx and tx is that the long-term survival rates for more advanced cancers have not improved, and that what appears to be a gain is actually illusory, produced by detecting and treating "cancers" that might not really be that threatening after all (even if left untreated). Do I have that right?

            Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

            by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:41:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There are some good studies on screening/mortality (4+ / 0-)

              One of the most recent, and most comprehensive, was conducted by Dr. Archie Bleyer of St. Charles Health System in Bend, OR and Dr. H. Gilbert Welch of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice.  It was published last November in the New England Journal of Medicine.

              Effect of Three Decades of Screening Mammography on Breast-Cancer Incidence

              Dr. Welch covered much of the study's conclusions in his NYT article last fall

              Cancer Survivor or Victim of Overdiagnosis?

              Getting accurate data on any benefit of early detection has been complicated.  The above study showed that, while mammography has increased the number of bc cases detected in early stages, it hasn't decreased the number of cases diagnosed at the advanced stage.  Ideally, these early detection practices should result in a reduction.

              What the study showed is that many of these early detection remedies may in fact be detecting DCIS cancers that would never turn into actual cancer.  From their 30 yr analysis of data, they estimated as many as 1/3 of new breast cancer diagnoses may in fact be "over-diagnosed".  This skews mortality rates, though institutions like SEER - who report cancer statistics - usually separate DCIS stats from invasive bc stats when developing their reports.

              One of the major studies showing no benefit of Breast Self-Exam (BSE) was the Shanghai Study In a study of over 266,000 women in China, half were taught detailed BSE, the others were not.  Of the 2 groups, both had about the same number of deaths from breast cancer, even after 10-11 years of follow up. However, the women who were taught detailed BSE had many more diagnoses of benign breast lesions, ie many more biopsies showing no bc.  This study, as well as a meta-analysis done by the Cochrane Collaboration, influenced the US Preventive Services Task Force to no longer recommend BSE. They also recommended that any education materials for BSE contain information about the limitations and risk of unnecessary biopsies.

              Breast cancer mortality has declined over the last 30 years, but former study concluded that's probably due primarily to better treatment. Because of the lack of electronic medical records, its difficult to say which treatments are having a long term impact on reducing mortality.  There just isn't enough statistical data yet that contains treatment info.

              Bottom line, we won't see any substantive improvement in breast cancer mortality rates until we understand metastasis and how to treat it most effectively. IMO, we've probably maxed out on any benefits of early detection and need to focus on primary prevention of breast cancer and prevention of metastasis.

              "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being in DC."

              by Betty Pinson on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 11:47:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Dealing with metastasis is key. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ZenTrainer

                Especially because right now, there isn't a very good understanding of the most effective ways to intervene, at least AFAIK. I've known of far too many women with uterine cancer who were told that surgery for their Stage I cancer would suffice--only to be dealing with a massive, unstoppable recurrence a few years later. That just seems so wrong.

                Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

                by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:48:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  It's especially problematic for a young woman (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peregrine kate, ZenTrainer

            to find a lump and get down this path, because very young women who do have actual breast cancer have an extremely high mortality rate.

            At the least, while one is contemplating this, it makes planning for the future at a time when life is all about planning for the future, rather difficult.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 12:33:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Yes. Absolutely. (14+ / 0-)
    My questions to you tonight are these: Do you think there is merit in considering  PTSD as a relevant factor in holistic treatments of cancer?
    And I'm not even a cancer survivor.

    I once wrote a diary, examining parallels between emotional survival in this society without health insurance--believe it or not--and the unexpectedly low incidence of PTSD in certain Vietnam veterans, given their high combat exposure.

    The study of these remarkably PTSD-free veterans was examined in the Judith Hermann book, "Trauma and Recovery." The book examined specific character traits than enabled vets who'd survived very demanding battlefield experiences to "pull through," and remain relatively symptom-free upon discharge into civilian life.

    Fascinating stuff. In no way does it "blame the victim," since all vets studied, acknowledged "luck" as the biggest factor, both in their physical survival, and their favorable emotional outcomes.

    This kind of study has broad resonance in society, and I believe that includes cases like yours.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 05:21:01 PM PDT

    •  Yes, Herman's book is still very significant (12+ / 0-)

      in the field overall. It's been some years since I read it, and I ought to revisit it (and the commentary on it) soon.
      I'm not entirely sure that she avoids the problem of victim-blaming even if the veterans she interviews were ready to credit "luck" for their differing outcomes, but I honestly don't remember.
      There have been more studies recently about the possibility of a genetic basis for such resilience, though I don't recall the particulars offhand.
      For that matter, most of the people with cancer I know also place "luck" near or at the top of the list of factors determining long-term survival.
      When it comes down to it: Individuals are unique, and their responses will be variable. No one deserves to be subject to trauma, and if someone is, then that person ought to be able to get all the love and skilled support she or he needs to incorporate the event and continue with life. Far, far easier to hold as an ideal than to implement on all counts, alas.
      Thanks for stopping by to make a comment.

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 05:38:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  wow I am reading a book (6+ / 0-)

        Titled Zoobiquity right now, the chapter I am on discusses emotions and the biological basis for emotions (not just in humans either).  The discussion is driven by the question, "what biological advantage do emotions give us" why do we pass them on to the next generation.  

        The author makes note of the fact that E.O. Wilson the famous Harvard Biologist (now emeritus professor) that emotions are not present to maximize happiness of the individual but to favor the maximum transmission of the controlling genes.

        Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be experienced.

        by DarkHawk98 on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:19:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Makes sense, doesn't it? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZenTrainer, worldlotus

          Our species (in the west, at least) makes such a big deal out of "happiness." But, evolutionarily speaking, why the hell would it even matter?

          Sounds like an interesting book.

          It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

          by karmsy on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:07:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  it matters ONLY (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peregrine kate, ZenTrainer

            if there is a genetic advantage that manifests itself in the genes being carried forward to the next generation was E.O. Wilson's point.

            I am enjoying reading this book, it discusses many things concerning how we are not that different from other species (biologically speaking that is); that we have more in common than we have differences.  

            Life is not a problem to be solved but an adventure to be experienced.

            by DarkHawk98 on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:35:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  This is way above my pay grade but reminds me of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          karmsy

          what a vet told me once about chocolate labs, who are for the most part, nervous nellies, unlike yellow and black labs.

          The vet told me that the gene for the color brown in labs was associated with the gene for anxiety.

          Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

          by ZenTrainer on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 11:54:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well, but, but, what were the findings? (5+ / 0-)

      Though I guess I don't have those character traits or I wouldn't have PTSD.

      Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

      by ZenTrainer on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 08:14:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  While some might feel differently (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZenTrainer

        about Judith Herman's discussion of PTSD in vets, I thought she avoided the problem of victim blame fairly well, by citing the biggest single factor the vets with favorable outcomes mentioned in their physical and emotional survival: that was luck.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 08:58:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  50% and 100% (5+ / 0-)

      Those are the current estimates of how many male and female veterans ofVietnam have PTSD.

      •  I followed your link--thanks for it--but the %s (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZenTrainer, DaNang65

        you supply don't appear on the page of that link. Am I missing something?

        Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

        by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:21:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the reference n/t (4+ / 0-)

      "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being in DC."

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 05:23:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know about an actual diagnosis of PTSD (11+ / 0-)

    but I do know that my husband has mentioned something along these lines:

    ...anything that goes wrong... is automatically related to a recurrence or spread of cancer.
    He has admitted that is often his first thought when a minor ache or pain arises. He says he knows intellectually that most likely nothing is wrong, but that immediate, visceral reaction is always there now, where it wasn't before his diagnosis.

    A simple headache - or a run-of-the-mill wintertime cold or sore throat in his case - can cause great worry.

    But I guess one could say that's now a rather "normal" reaction.

    Everyone, rich or poor, deserves a shelter for the soul. -- Sam Mockbee ~~~For handmade silver jewelry, click here.~~~

    by Lorinda Pike on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 05:51:43 PM PDT

  •  Checking in (10+ / 0-)

    Hoo-hah for good news, PK! I'm just checking in, as I never was told I had cancer until surgery had removed it. (Of course I knew, but I wasn't supposed to be still walking, and my blood lied to the doctors.)
    No PTSD for me, thank goodness. I don't do stress anyway.
    Love to all.

  •  If you asked that question a couple of weeks ago (16+ / 0-)

    I would have said : "Naa, I don't think so"
    Today I say :"yes, definitely."

    I had my thyroid removed on 2/11/2011 due to cancer. The diagnosis didn't shock me too much I see myself as a matter-of -fact kinda person. I roll with the punches, always have and there been many so I'm good at it. :)
    Surgery was scheduled for Friday morning, going home on Saturday to my son's house in case something unexpected would happen. I slept away most of that day, went home Sunday to get ready to go to work on Monday, cause I couldn't afford to miss any more days.
    My son was freaking out, but I calmed his fears. After all I had the good cancer, no chemo necessary, just monitoring for a few years. My sister didn't care much after I told her no  other treatment was to be done and no drama was called for. All was well! So I thought, but I'm having trouble with fatigue, muscle weakness, not myself at all and the thought of the cancer returning is always there.
    A few months back one of my 15 yo nephews was diagnosed with Non Hodgekins Lymphoma, which left me emotionally raw and I finally had a complete melt down a couple of weeks ago when my BIL tells me, 'you didn't really have cancer, you still got your hair.'

    I know it was a stupid thing to take it so badly, but I also realized I never let myself grief and didn't let myself be comforted. I'm not as tough as I thought.
    Cancer, no matter how minor, changes everything and it can pounce on you anytime, anywhere.

    El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. The people united will never be defeated

    by mint julep on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 06:13:11 PM PDT

  •  Well, my BIL never been accused of being (9+ / 0-)

    the sensitive one.
    The whole thing started when he made some remark about the boy (not his) being dramatic. The child is terrified and not taking the treatment well, he's in ICU right now for the second time. My BIL is upset because my sister went to take care of the other children while the mother went to Houston with the boy for treatment. And I'm here trying to teach him how to take care of a house and not starve to death. while doing so. He's hopeless and selfish and self centered, that's all.

    As for me, I'm trying to get used to the new me and all that's connected with it.

    Thanks for the hugs and right back at cha!
     You're doing a great service for the community for the participants and the lurkers. Best to you on your journey to better health and a great life.

    El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. The people united will never be defeated

    by mint julep on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 07:09:42 PM PDT

    •  Hmm. No pass from me, then. (6+ / 0-)

      I am so sorry that your nephew is in crisis. That is such a shame. If he's at MD Anderson, then he's in good hands. But what worry in the meantime.... Poor baby, and poor mom and sibs.

      The good thing for you is that the "new me" can be at least as interesting and vital as the old one was. I like to think so for myself, at least!

      I am honored by your kind words, and grateful for your good wishes.

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 07:20:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I completely agree with you on PTSD and cancer (10+ / 0-)

    PTSD is supposedly caused by something that is perceived as life threatening. Et voila. It's remarkable that it isn't being researched.

    As you stated someone with extraordinary support systems might be less impacted by a cancer diagnosis. Of course it also has to do with the type of cancer...some cancers now have over a 90% cure rate and may feel less threatening to some people.

    I can relate an experience I have, though not cancer. I live alone, have no close siblings, and my parents passed by the time I was 35. I have been not good at making support systems for myself. Just as I was crawling out of the deep crater after feeling I lost my entire family (parents died in a row), I was hit with physical health problems.

    Five years ago, I hurt both my feet. I have rotator cuff tears so can't use a wheelchair or crutches when they are bad to rest them. I had been doing physical work for over a decade so cannot work much.

    I find that I have PTSD just around dealing with my feet. I've had to turn down work over and over, and have taken work and injured myself in it. I've been trapped in my house unable to shop for food or shovel out my car if it snows a lot.

    I had been unable to get doctors to treat my feet as more than a casual mundane injury. THey've had no sense of urgency in figuring out what was wrong.

    I have had to go on foodstamps and my rent is 3/4 of my disability income.

    I think I experienced EVEN THIS "MUNDANE" health problem as "life threatening" or have perceived it as such enough to give me PTSD. IT is because of the dearth of support...even not having someone who would  RELIABLY shovel out my car so I could get to possible work or important doctors appts and know I could (can't afford to pay someone). When you feel entirely on your own and cannot work it may be enough to cause PTSD in some people.

    Surely, then, if you have cancer which can kill you itself, PTSD must be possible. I'd think aspects of it would be common, even. It would depend on people's perception of their own vulnerability and the support they have as well as medical factors.

    A blind spot for cancer clinicians.

  •  My wife and I were both diagnosed with PTSD ... (13+ / 0-)

    A couple of years after our son's cancer diagnosis at 2. And the funny thing is, four years later, the more time passes, the more I tend to feel its effects. During that terrible 14 months of treatment, everything was so real and immediate and visceral that there wasn't time to be freaked out about it. Precisely BECAUSE we might lose him at any day, we couldn't think about how we might lose him any day. Even when he was going into an isolation room for a wildly risky stem cell transplant, we didnt give much thought to the odds he would never leave that room alive. Too much else going on to worry about it.

    And now, we deal with tremendous aftereffects, mostly hearing loss, but it's been three years since there was any trace of tumor in his system. He's so cheerful and sanguine about things that you would never know what he'd been through, not unless you have the experience to pick up on those subtly hollow eyes that you can't get any other way. The more time passes, the more I flash back -- to the night before his diagnosis, seeing him try to walk into our room and collapsing in the hallway; carrying him to the car not long later and feeling him struggle for breath, not knowing that he was literally fighting to hold onto his last shred of life; following behind and holding his IV pole as he ran through hospital halls, never quite being sure if he would even run any other way.

    Oddly enough, it's real life that is the hardest to deal with now. Maybe because I expended so much energy on cancer that I have no concept of what normal life is anymore. So many months of total biological war, and yet I'm more prone to crying over the phone bill than I ever was over cancer. Except that I think the tears over bills really ARE the cancer tears, just transferred elsewhere.

    It's affecting my parenting in ways I didn't expect. I find it hard to not give tremendous amounts of time and attention to him; even when we're on our second and third hour of him insisting I play with his "Cars" toys as he insists I go through the script with him VERBATIM, I find it hard to tear away because I remember with perfect clarity when I would have given anything in the world to have him pester me for playtime instead of sleep for 20 hours a day.

    Sometimes I just have to smile at it, too. He's a typical six-year-old brat, with all the occasional selfishness and lack of consideration that implies, and also combined with nerves of steel and an absolute inability to know when it's best to quit. And even though that's extremely annoying when he's applying it to the Pixar aisle at Toys R Us, it's impossible to hate it TOO much when you consider it's that very tenacity, that dogged refusal to give up and the will to win at all costs, that is directly responsible for him being alive today. I shudder at the thought of the day he genuinely realizes what's happened to him and tries to leverage it against me! Until then, he'll just ask his innocent questions ("Papa, would you be sad if I was dead?") and I'll give my honest answers ("Son of mine, I would cry so many tears they would overflow the oceans") and we'll all just figure out how to move ahead with normal life. Whatever the hell THAT might be.

    •  {{{{{poguesrun and wife}}}}} (7+ / 0-)

      Because at the time your son had no way to know what was at stake, at least not intellectually.
      Now this comment of yours, I hope you realize, could be the core of a very fine diary. At the very least.
      That concept of dealing with real life when for so long you were in crisis mode.... I think I can understand. Sometimes I can almost (almost) miss it, that feeling of urgency and intensity. I never thought I was hooked on drama before, but I guess I've come close. But on re-reading your comment, I think we're talking about two different phenomena.
      Yes, for a while and maybe forever, your tears are "really" cancer tears. I am so glad for you all that you have only the phone bill to weep over.
      Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your family's story tonight.

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 08:46:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not so different as you might think (7+ / 0-)

        "Sometimes I can almost (almost) miss it, that feeling of urgency and intensity. I never thought I was hooked on drama before."

        There's a famous quote from a soldier about adjusting after war: "Sometimes I wish I was back over there just so I could remember how much I wanted to be back over here."

        I don't miss cancer treatment. At ALL. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the intense focus, the absolute certainty of what I was doing and where my priorities were every second of the day, the foxhole-like camaraderie of parents, doctors and nurses all laboring in unison to save one tiny life. There was a sense of immediacy and heightened reality that makes it difficult even now to scale my mind back to be able to decide on the best cable package or what-have-you. The downside of learning REAL priorities us that all these details that make up everyday life start to seem very small and it's hard to cycle back in.

        •  Yes, I do hear you. And the war analogy here (5+ / 0-)

          is fitting in multiple dimensions.
          It's easy to set one's priorities and establish one's focus when it's a matter of life and death. Not so easy when the issues are more mundane. I also feel a bit more adrift than I'd like, more often than I'd like.
          People cam get hooked on the adrenaline rush, no matter the cause. It gets tough when people try to replicate the feeling when the circumstances don't warrant it.

          Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

          by peregrine kate on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 09:07:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Great insight (4+ / 0-)

          and very true.  The focus and immediacy you mention make you forget the mundane and trivial aspects of life.  Once life returns to "normal" and we gradually slide back into the old ways, you miss the ability to easily toss off those everyday worries and problems.

          "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being in DC."

          by Betty Pinson on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 05:50:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  And thanks for the kind words (7+ / 0-)

        My wife and I have spent more than one late night analyzing the effects of PTSD on our own selves and I'm more than happy to share a bit of what we've learned.

  •  so happy to read the good news (8+ / 0-)

    for both zen trainer and kate!

    Oh, I used to be disgusted
    Now I try to be amused
    ~~ Elvis Costello

    by smileycreek on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 08:48:42 PM PDT

  •  Yes. (8+ / 0-)

    But of course you already knew that about me, kate. Thanks for writing about this very, very important topic. People need to know. People need to understand.

    I just skimmed. I'll read it more thoroughly when I'm having a better day.

    Love,
    ear

    Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

    by earicicle on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 08:59:51 PM PDT

  •  I had PTSD before cancer but it certainly got (8+ / 0-)

    worse after cancer.

    My tolerance for stress is very low too now. Which in one way is good. I often just refuse to involve myself in drama, or I step back and find it humorous.

    But I am a bit unable to do a part of my job now. I was a master in my dog classes at supervising play and interactions between adult dogs.

    And my friends and clients tell me I never seemed flustered at all. I remember one time having the tailgate of my truck dropped down and my sitting on it while I watched a group of 9 dogs who were all on 30' leashes.

    The owners would use this time to chat about dogs with each other. I calmly asked a client holding the lash of his dog to step back a few feet to give his dog room to get away from the border collie that was about to "attack" it.

    The border collie had been trying to tell the dog something and the dog just wasn't listening.

    Everyone kind of looked at me amazed that I wasn't doing anything. Sure enough, the border collie asked one more time nicely and was ignored so jumped forward snapping and snarling at the dog. "Pinning" it to the side of a car without ever even touching it and holding it there (without touching it) in this real border collie way.

    No dogs were injured and this was one way I taught owners every week about canine body language and how to relax so as not to escalate things.

    I no longer teach group classes. Too stressful.

    Well I have 5 dogs staying here right now and a bit ago they all starting playing wildly, barking, lunging, twirling and humping. It was too nerve-wracking for me and these dogs love each other.

    I sent them all outside to play. Whew! Before I would have enjoyed watching their exuberance. Not anymore.

    That's a shame.

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

    by ZenTrainer on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 09:01:41 PM PDT

  •  The weirdest thing is ... (8+ / 0-)

    Of all the stressors that trigger PTSD in my wife and I, cancer-related stuff isn't among them. We could talk about cancer all day long. We'll happily answer questions from our friends, who are hesitant to ask because they feel it'll be too painful, when ironically talking about it helps us make sense of it all (I suppose it shows that I can chatter on quite easily!) The doctors at our clinic have on more than one occasion called us in to help counsel parents of newly diagnosed children to help ease them into the bewildering new world they're dragged into.

    I've often wondered why we dealt with it so well, when all my life even small stuff has stressed us beyond belief, and I've concluded that its actually because we ARE alarmists. As was once said of Rudy Giuliani, we always treated even small problems like they were the apocalypse, and so we were surprisingly well suited to handle it the day the apocalypse actually hit our family.

  •  Lovely to see everyone here tonight. (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks to Community Spotlight for picking up the diary; this is one I think really deserves some special attention for its topic. I hope it will continue to spark conversation.

    For now, though, I have to get to bed. I will check again when I'm up on the comment threads. I look forward to seeing what else develops overnight.

    May everyone enjoy a calm and restful night.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 09:45:23 PM PDT

  •  My PTSD Came Prior To My Cancer(s) (9+ / 0-)

    As a Vietnam Vet I lived for nearly 40 years before being diagnosed with PTSD. I have survived 5 different occurrences of 2 different cancers since that time ('09)
     A single traumatic event (cancer diagnoses) can lead to PTSD if not treated.  Cognitive therapy and/or EMDR both work (IMHO).
      It's prolonged and repeated exposure to the immanent possibility of death that produces a more permanent version of PTSD. You go emotionally numb. Nothing matters. You've seen too much death to care about one more, even if it's your own. It's only your sense duty to survive (and win) that keeps you going.  Soldiers, firemen, ER personnel and cops are typical sufferers of prolonged exposure PTSD.

    For me, the cancer diagnoses was just another enemy to be dealt with. You don't stress over it, you take action. You survive or you don't.  Survival rates are way up in general.

    I survived and intend to thrive. I recently moved cross country (CA) and am getting on with life by building an entirely new life.

    Cancer be damned!  

    You're a mammal, listen to your body.

    by post rational on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 09:49:09 PM PDT

    •  You have been through a lot. (4+ / 0-)

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment here, particularly because you mention a few things that I should have included in the diary. I'll likely go back to edit it accordingly.
      More power to you for addressing your newest challenges so directly. Good luck with the relocation; I admire your adventurousness.
      Cancer be damned indeed!

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:08:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yuuup (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZenTrainer, peregrine kate
      It's prolonged and repeated exposure to the immanent possibility of death that produces a more permanent version of PTSD. You go emotionally numb. Nothing matters. You've seen too much death to care about one more, even if it's your own. It's only your sense duty to survive (and win) that keeps you going.  Soldiers, firemen, ER personnel and cops are typical sufferers of prolonged exposure PTSD.
      That's what it's like. You put one foot in front of the other because that's what you're told to do. Then you learn how to be polite to "normal" people because they keep calling you strange. Then your boss tells you to smile more. * sigh * Then your girlfriend begs you to "open up". * sigh *

      If we abandon our allies and their issues, who will defend us and ours?

      by Bryce in Seattle on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 07:01:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Medically induced PTSD (6+ / 0-)

    I have only rarely seen medically induced PTSD discussed in media articles intended for a lay audiences. It's all about soldiers, first responders, and domestic violence victims. I have found this article in the JAMA: Asthma Linked to Psychiatric Disorders. So, the medical establishment has conceded this much.

    I know this because I had Asthma and have noticed many symptoms of PTSD related to it. I experience numerous dreams about choking, and trigger avoidance. Asthma attacks are painful, unpredictable, incapacitating, generally terrifying, and may occur in locations far from medical assistance. IMO, medically induced PTSD is real.

    If we abandon our allies and their issues, who will defend us and ours?

    by Bryce in Seattle on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 03:02:24 AM PDT

    •  I can totally see why asthma could engender PTSD. (4+ / 0-)

      Breathlessness is a very scary event, affecting the whole being profoundly.
      I hope that your condition is under control.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment here and to make the connection.

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:13:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes! PTSD in the wake of cancer treatment (4+ / 0-)

    is an important topic. As a matter of fact, I wrote my masters thesis in 2002 about the potential for Post Traumatic Growth related topic of  (PTG) following cancer treatment, which meant that I had to wade through the literature on PTSD to understand my topic.

    The definition of trauma used by the authors of PTG is "anything that overwhelms one's capacity to cope".

    I am from a cancer family, meaning that nearly everyone dies of cancer and I was the first to survive in 1995. Since then we have several more surviving family members, so we know a bit about PTSD induced by cancer treatments.

    For me it's most pronounced around chemo. I can't breathe, get lightheaded, nauseated with overwhelming anxiety when I go near treatment facilities, even when I dearly want to support a loved one. Just can't do it. Nearly 20 years later.

    I don't have time to write more right now, but another really significant resource that helped me overcome the trauma was the free help I received from the Cancer Support Community (formerly The Wellness Community and/or Gilda's Club). Those folks are angels walking around in human form.

    "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

    by annan on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 06:24:39 AM PDT

    •  That definition seems like a useful one, too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZenTrainer, annan

      I am glad that you have survived! but sorry that you have lost so many to the condition.
      You are quite right, the Cancer Support Community centers do provide wonderful services to people with cancer and their caregivers/families. I should add a thank-you to the diary, since the support group I've been a part of for over two years has definitely been a huge help. To say nothing of the yoga and meditation classes I've taken.
      If you'd be interested in writing a diary about your masters' thesis topic, we'd be glad to have it. Just let me know.

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:16:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cancer Support Community (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peregrine kate, ZenTrainer

        Smile. So happy to hear another testimonial!

        Like you, I had a lot going on while I was dealing with cancer so I was in group for 2 1/2 years. The only other surviving member of my group is my best friend who I met during a mediation class while we were both bald from chemo. Neither of us expected to be here 19 years later! But both of us got out of bad marriages, left deadly careers, made major life changes with the support of our group and continue to support one another to this day.

        Someday I will write about my thesis and PTG. I can't write a diary right now, but I know that it's a topic that many will find very useful.

        Boiling it all down to the basics, this is what I learned. A very small subset of people who go through trauma push through to PTG.

        Some are broken by trauma, devastated beyond repair. Those are the ones who are homeless, the vets with flashbacks who crack and do awful things.

        Another group had good lives pre-trauma. They simply want to get back to normal, back to their former selves.

        A small subset who go on to PTG need several things in place to move through trauma to something better. First and foremost, they need a personality type that is open to change. This is something that appears to be a fixed trait. Some have it, some don't.

        The second and equally important requirement is access to resources. Both financial and social. They need money to get the treatment and help they need. But they also need people around them supporting their desire for change. If they are lacking in either, PTG won't happen.

        The other thing they need is time. Most people need about 18 months to process the trauma before moving to a place where change is an option.

        I learned a lot during cancer, both my own and through loved ones. I don't want to have to do it again but I wouldn't give up what I learned for anything in the world.

        Namasté.

        "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

        by annan on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 06:55:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I appreciate what you have shared here. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZenTrainer, annan

          The invitation is open if at any point your time becomes a little more flexible.

          Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

          by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:52:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Oh!! And Ativan ... (3+ / 0-)

        Sweet Ativan. It got me through chemo. Lovely drug. I suspect that I would have committed suicide by chemo had I not been stabilized by Ativan. In retrospect, I am happy to be alive. On the other hand, why doesn't anyone tell you ahead of time about the black, black depression that accompanies many chemo regimens?

        "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

        by annan on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 07:07:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's a good question. Chemo is such an ordeal. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZenTrainer, annan

          I don't know what it would take for me to endure it again. Lots of Ativan, maybe! ;)
          I didn't realize that there's another kind of physiological reaction from that, though, beyond the OMG-I'm-going-through-chemo-for-cancer response that in itself could trigger a depressive episode in those of us who are vulnerable....

          Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

          by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:54:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Research is lacking on the connection (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peregrine kate

            between chemo and depression. I know that Lily conducted a lot of Prozac research around depression in cancer patients. I actually participated as a psych intern interviewing patients but they were focused on lifestyle. As far as I know they weren't attempting to link depression to specific chemo drugs.

            The black depressions I'm talking about rolled over me like clockwork on the 2nd or 3rd day after chemo, then lifted just as predictably. And I was ON Prozac at the time.

            I think the red devil Adriamycin might be the culprit. I usually wait until someone starts treatment to tell them to be aware that it's a possible side effect and get help if they need it.

            Kate, I don't know your story. Where are you in the process? You're still in group, but also still in treatment?

            Good to meet you!

            "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

            by annan on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 04:35:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hmm, interesting. Adriamycin was in my chemo, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              annan

              along with cisplatin. I thought I had more trouble with the latter, but who knows?

              Quick recap:
              Dx in Jan 2011 with (clinical) Stage I endometrial adenocarcinoma, grade 2
              Surgery in Feb 2011, daVinci hysterectomy etc. FIGO Stage IIIC2, with para-aortic and pelvic lymph node involvement
              Chemo (the cocktail above) Mar - Aug 2011. Chemo unsuccessful; 8 small lung mets found in Sept 2011 CT scan.
              Radiation tx therefore cancelled.
              Embarked on complementary tx plus oncologist's rx of Megace. Dramatic improvement each quarterly CT after, till NED in June 2012.
              So far, so good....

              Great to hear you have 19 years under your belt. Thanks so much for your input into this diary thread.

              Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

              by peregrine kate on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 04:19:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Yay on your continuing good news Kate! (5+ / 0-)

    I stopped by to read because I'm beginning to suspect that I have PTSD symptoms related to childhood sexual abuse. I can't imagine that there isn't a tie in here with cancer. It is a crazy stressful time for the people I know who have had it.

    I had a friend who had a particularly aggressive cancer. Very shortly after she was pronounced in remission she started having symptoms which eventually were discovered to be from the cancer returning. But when she told the oncologist office about them they told her that it was very common for patients who were in remission to imagine that they were having a recurrence and that it was a sign that she had become emotionally dependent on the oncologist team. Their reaction makes me think (in addition to being angry at their shame inducing remarks) that the fear of recurrence is pretty common. And in my experience with friends it seems like it can reach debilitating levels.

    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 07:58:20 AM PDT

    •  Thanks, Renee, for stopping by and for your good (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZenTrainer, Renee, annan

      wishes. So far, so good.

      It's not unusual for people who have endured childhood sexual abuse to develop PTSD; it's also not unusual, I would bet, for most people who do so to normalize their behavior for a long, long time. It took me nearly twenty years after my abuse before I was ready to admit that I had some unhelpful defensive reactions going back to that era.

      I hope that your friend was able to achieve remission again, though from your phrasing I fear not. It is too bad that she wound up having her concerns minimized; what a catch-22.

      From my limited personal experience (talking with others who have cancer, in real life or on discussion boards), it is the rare person who believes that their cancer is ever gone for good. It happens, and some are absolutely right--but it generally takes years of NED before reaching that level of confidence.

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:36:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ...there is no question PTSD happens... (6+ / 0-)

    ...with some cancer treatments. I can attest to that first hand. It depends upon how hideous the treatment was.

    I have been told by a psychologist (a family member) that I was exhibiting PTSD symptoms after my cancer treatment...

    Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

    by paradise50 on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 08:43:29 AM PDT

    •  {{{{{p50}}}}} (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZenTrainer

      Yours was particularly arduous.
      And being thankful to be alive, and to be NED, doesn't protect one from the effects of the other.

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:55:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hi PK! (5+ / 0-)

    I'm really happy for you and ZenTrainer.

    I observed PTSD in my mother in the 70's. Once a happy, fun loving, mentally healthy woman, she became obsessed with religion after diagnosed with cancer. It made her miserable.

    On the other hand, my girl friend stayed mentally alive and shrugged it off as just another one of lifes surprises.

    The above may not be directly applicable in they were both diagnosed later stage cancers with a poor outlook.

    In my case, I think being much older than them, I just accepted it and did what was recommended. I may have the physical scars of my bout with cancer, but mostly got over the mental ones quickly.  I had top notch medical care and it was paid for by Medicare. That kept most of the worries away.

    Diaries are funny things Sam. Type one letter and you never know where you might end up. My apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien.

    by Caddis Fly on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:38:22 AM PDT

    •  Hey, CF! Good to see you! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZenTrainer, Caddis Fly

      So many factors involved.
      My own experience would suggest they are not necessarily fixed, since I had PTSD as a young adult, and I don't think I'm dealing with it now post-cancer dx. There's perhaps a baseline level of resourcefulness--but we really can't know unless and until we get there.
      I'm glad for your sake that you didn't have to worry about medical coverage. You're right, that helps a lot.

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:59:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Glad to hear your good news, pk! (3+ / 0-)

    And you wrote a marvellous diary which has been followed up by a good conversation.

    Thank you. :)

    Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government. ~ Edward Bernays

    by 4Freedom on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 01:56:47 PM PDT

    •  Thank you, 4F! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZenTrainer, 4Freedom

      I am also pleased to see such a strong response. Clearly it touches a topic that matters to many. You're welcome! :)

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 10:00:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cancer and PTSD go together hand in hand for (3+ / 0-)

    many veterans.   Most are already diagnosed with multiple disabilities especially PTSD before cancer enters their lives and it is something that is so sad to see both
    get worse.   A VN vet close friend just died with Brain and Lung cancer and had been dealing with ptsd for over 30 years prior to getting diagnosed with terminal cancer.  I  know sooooooooooooooooooo many cases
    where this is the reality.  

    Good diary and good news Kate.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 05:40:49 PM PDT

    •  That makes sense to me, unfortunately. As if (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZenTrainer, Vetwife

      the situation weren't already hard enough....
      I suppose that for  many veterans, their cancer may well be service related to boot. Talk about adding insult to injury :(
      Thanks for your kind words, Vetwife. Hope all's well there.

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 10:02:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  just stopping by (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZenTrainer, peregrine kate

    My husband died of skin cancer at 42 four years ago.  He was a very good man, kind and spiritual and very wise for his years.  

    But... he had a habit of 'swallowing' his emotions that he was working hard to reverse.  I don't know if this could be related to PTSD (someone who isn't very willing to talk about what they're going through may have a harder time dealing with the emotional aspects of a shocking event?) but it makes some sense that he did...

    I know he is still with us.  His son, who was nine when he died, is turning into a pretty good teenager!  That could only be with his guidance and love.  

    Union busting???? That's disgusting!!!

    by invisiblewoman on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 06:51:52 PM PDT

    •  Thank you for visiting and for your comment. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZenTrainer, invisiblewoman

      I am so sorry that you have lost your husband. That is far too young. I wish it could have been otherwise for him.
      I am glad to hear that you feel his presence, especially for your son. It is definitely my biggest fear, how my teenaged daughter would cope if I died before she was grown.
      {{{{{invisiblewoman and son}}}}}

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 10:04:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I had this... (3+ / 0-)

    I was told by my therapist that cancer patients who had this severe anxiety response to treatment often had an underlying emotional response that the medical process fed into.
    In my case, I had to wait 9 weeks for a mammogram after finding a lump (don't find breast cancer in October), and it fed into my abandonment/no one will care for me issues that stem from an neglectful, abusive, but loving childhood. My physician couldn't have cared - she later changed my records to indicate that I had a history of fibrocystic breasts (I don't). By the time I was diagnosed, I was a mess.  I had worked very hard to turn myself into a mature, well-balanced woman, and this just tore me apart.

    After treatment, I cried every day on my way to work, wept in my cube, and just couldn't get my life back together. A wonderful psychologist trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helped me get myself back.

    I wish doc's understood this better- their solution was to keep offering me Xanax or Ativan.

    •  I like Xanax and Cognitive Therapy. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate

      I like how my therapist doesn't really care about my childhood or a lot of the "whys".

      Sometimes I think she works for Nike, she is constantly telling me to "just do it". Make a decision and do it.

      Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

      by ZenTrainer on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 09:27:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh dear, that sounds like an awful ordeal. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ZenTrainer

      I'm glad you found a good therapist who was helpful to you. The "triggers" for old reactions makes sense to me.

      I had forgotten this until now, probably just as well: right after surgery, when I got the totally unexpected news that I was at Stage IIIC2, not at the Stage I that was anticipated before surgery, I called to talk with one of the oncology fellows about something or other. She was so seriously unsympathetic, and her only suggestion was that I talk to someone about being depressed.

      I hope I complained to the head doc. Yes, hearing seriously bad news about one's condition is enough to make one upset and afraid. I can appreciate the limitations of their training and expertise, but really, some compassion wouldn't be out of line.

      Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 10:09:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site