To all, I have a friend who I met early in her chemotherapy and have fallen for her because of her wonderful personality, understanding, and beautiful self both inside and out. She just finished her last treatment at the end of July and even before it, the doctors had indicated she is cancer free from her PET scans. I'm so happy for her and in the process of getting to know her, I really have fallen for her and even though she's not at my level because of her chemo and confused emotions, I'm still patient through it and promised her I'd always fight for us.
Her cancer was the more rarer of non-hodgkins lymphoma and so she received heavy doses of chemo and I know it affected her alot. She started chemo in Februrary and I know she has good and bad days, but a couple of days ago she indicated she just needs time to herself and was going to shut everyone out, including friends. She told me though that she doesn't want to call me up in two weeks and me tell her that I don't want to talk to her anymore. She reminded me that I had said that I'd keep fighting for us, even though sometimes it seems like she pushes me away. There's also more to this story, in that I went out of the country for three weeks before her last treatment, I had already purchased these tickets well in advance before ever meeting her, and she understood that. There's no issue there. But the problem is I haven't seen her since I've been back and it's been almost two months. I've barely talked to her because she's been going through so much. With her shutting me (and her other friends or so she says), makes it more difficult. This woman means so much to me and I submitted my feelings for her; even as I write this, it's so difficult not to become emotional.
Anyway, I read on the internet that post-chemotherapy symptoms can begin to disappear 6-12 months after the last treatment but can take years. I think the biggest items on her is her depression which I think also stems from low blood counts and pain from the neutripine shots she receives. She takes a tremendous amount of drugs and she has talked to me before very loopy from the drugs and said some really odd things, some very hurtful too. Basically, these are things that she says she feels she is upset with herself and quite honestly, it shouldn't because I totally understand what she is going through and willing to put up with it. I don't know about her other friends, but surely I endure it because I want to, because I support her, and because I feel an emotional connection with her. There is a saying of the best reward received by anyone is the one received after enduring pain to get it.
So my question to you all is what was some of your post-chemotherapy experiences and how long did it take for bring people back into your lives?
There isn't anything particularly different about most depressions. Post partum does have a specific mental and physical relationship to child birth but otherwise it's all much the same.
The reason behind each depression is different and of course unique as I see it. So there is no way anyone can tell you the answers to the questions you pose. It takes time and she will live for a very long time with the fear of the cancer returning and having to face this dreadful treatment again.
Knowing a few people who have had the chemo etc they actually say they'd rather not have had it at all as their lives changed dramatically simply due to the pain, the tiredness and the physical changes it brought. They frankly would have preferred to take their chances with the cancer they had as they were not in pain when diagnosed.
Of course it is a whole different issue when you are young as there is so much of life remaining possible.
I'd suggest to you that you simply leave it to her to make decisions about contact and what happens between you.
I note you seem to have much stroonger feelings for her than you have indicated she has for you. And you refer to her as a friend rather than girlfriend etc.
So I wonder what is the relationship betweeen you.
Depression does not depend on the original causes lightening or disappearing. Even when the chemo side effects disappear or are repaired the mental anguish can and likely will remain for life. Just a matter of attitude as to how she deals with it.
I am so glad that I have found this discussion forum because I finally feel like i am not crazy and that I have legitimate issues post-chemotherapy that as some of you have mentioned, are never addressed by my oncologist. I have been experiencing extreme depression, persistent fatigue and a myriad of physical ailments, including joint and muscle pain and stomach aches with continual migraines. I have had to give up teaching middle and high school because I don't have the stamina, concentration or physical strength to keep up the 60 hours a week it takes. I have seen a few counselors, and while it helps to grieve with someone besides my family, who are sick and tired of hearing that I feel sick and tired, it doesn't seem to make a big difference in how I feel. I have tried a few anti-depressants and while they are more helpful than going without them, I can honestly say that they don't significantly change my quality of life, just my tolerance. The biggest hurdle is trying to make my family and friends understand that it's not that I am not grateful to still be here, it's just that my life is so drastically different now, I don't recognize it. I felt better the year following chemo than I do now, three and a half years out. The surgery, chemo and reconstruction have taken a toll on me physically and this depression that is unrelenting is taking the rest of my energy to fight it. It is so helpful to hear all of you put into words what I have been experiencing even though I have been told over and over that nothing is physically wrong and that it's all in my head.
I'm also a multi-year cancer survivor. I had a hemipelvectomy, complete removal of my right leg from hip down. I am still young at 43. I understand what you're going through. My energy level, concentration, and stamina have all gone downhill since my six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy (inpatient for 3 days at each round, suffered near fatal neutropenia at the end of it all).
I'm here today though! I intend to continue to fight and do my best to improve my life every day. I'm very dubious about putting personal information on this site or anywhere on the web for that matter, but if you'd like to share more experiences I would be happy to correspond with you. You can contact me via email. Reply here, and let me know if there's any way that you know of to send private messages from here!
Meanwhile keep your head up, and keep your spirits up. Don't forget that you're tougher than most people because you had cancer and you beat it. Compared to that ... there really aren't any big deals are there?
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