Passing the two-year milestone

You think you’re in the clear, and then depression takes you down

Advertisements

Two years ago, on May 20, 2015, I had my lumpectomy. That was followed with 4 rounds of chemo, 3 weeks apart, and 33 radiation treatments. After that, and after getting rid of a stubborn, gut-busting cough, I started 5 years of hormone treatment (it should be called anti-hormone treatment).

In the last month I’ve seen my oncologist and everything looks ship shape. Got a follow-up diagnostic mammogram and ultrsound. Everything still looking good.

I did sink pretty low over the winter, however. Beaten down by the Trump campaign and then hit by the realization that the real problem was that in almost every way I’d aged 10 years in just 18 months. It proved to be a lot to handle for someone who is usually pretty low during the winter anyway. Weakness, fatigue, hot flashes, shorter attention span, weight gain, occasional forgotfulness, concern about arthritis aches never experienced before, and the prospect of bone loss. Most of that is the symptoms of aging brought about by the loss of all estrogen. So by the time I get off the hormone meds in three years, I’ll be 77 or 78 years old, and doubt that stopping the hormone treatment will have me rebounding to what I was before the cancer.

The hope brought by the passage of Colorado’s End of Life Options bill failed to cheer when I realized my son, with my medical power of attorney, had converted to Catholicism several years ago, along with his wife. She’s the one who told me she absolutely could not vote for the bill. And it dawned on me during sleepless nights that they probably wouldn’t help me if I wanted any life-ending drugs or assistance. I ended up crying in the middle of many nights, distraught and anxious all the time. Finally my primary care doctor prescribed some Lexapro (for anxiety and depression), and things improved considerably over the next two months. However, it does make me sleepy, which kills the desire to get out and do stuff, and I really need to be rehabbing in some way.

So that’s basically the way it’s gone. It wasn’t over when it was over. The depression/anxiety blindsided me at a time I thought I was well past the worst of everything.

 

13 thoughts on “Passing the two-year milestone”

  1. Sorry to hear. The only thing I can give any input to is the end of life options. As far as I know (and I speak based on my research from when I was in Colorado), the medical power of attorney comes into play if you are not capable of making decisions for yourself. In that case, that person (and it need not be a family member and you should also have alternates) makes decisions in your stead based on your expressed desires (usually from a living will).
    http://www.wvlegalservices.org/medpoa.pdf

    However, that is slightly different from the end of life scenario. That decision you make on your own. If I remember correctly, you make that decision while in possession of your faculties and only within a six-month survival prognosis (I would prefer a year).
    https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/medical-aid-dying

    In both cases, the decision is yours. Even if you keep your son as the person with medical power of attorney, they have to abide by your wishes as established in your living will (you should have a living will).

    None of that addresses your other issues, but if some of those are derivative on these, it might help.

    One thing about Trump and what the country is going through right now . . . this too shall pass. These times are not the worst the US has faced, and while it sucks to be living through them, the issues pale in comparison to one’s own health. Turn off the news and concentrate on things you like, no matter how small or banal. Work on forming small habits and routines that help you set up milestones of activities.

    As for the aging process . . . well, we knew that was coming. Think of it as a privilege denied to so many here and around the world.

    I know, I know, you’ve heard all this before . . . sometimes it’s nice being reminded, and if annoys, at least you get a new focus for any irritation you might feel as you tell me to go perform an impossible and futile reproductive act with myself.

    1. The doctor reminded me that my Living Will takes pecedence over Medical Power of Attorney, and that helped a bit. And after about a month on the lexapro, I was feeling much better. I’m sure the advent of longer days made a big difference too, though I’ve never been diagnosed with SAD.. It isn’t so much a major clinical depression as it is anxiety; I’ve always been a worrier. It’s all a part of getting used to the “new normal.” I thoroughly expected all the signs of aging, of course. Just thought they’d come on gradually, as with most people. Having it all happen in the same brief time period was pretty overwhelming.

  2. Depression has a way a casting a shadow over everything, doesn’t it? Stealing just enough of the light to make you wonder if what you thought looked good wasn’t really so good at all. I even allowed it to make me angry at those who, out of love, tried to point out how skewed my vision had become. And, of course, I couldn’t resist allowing it to worsen from the guilt of having stepped on their well-intended efforts.

    It even made me think that the worse thing about your diagnosis was how it seemed to say that, if something like that could happen to someone as wonderful as PT, what does it say about the chances for someone like me, who is so much less deserving?

    I hope you’re smarter than I am. I KNOW you’re smarter than I am.

    1. Oh, it can happen to anyone. Anytime. And nature doesn’t play favorites. My prognois is about as good as I could wish for. I think I just wasn’t prepared for emotional, psychological repercussions a year after I’d gotten through all the physical stuff.

  3. From what I’ve seen, part of being a survivor is being patted on the back by docs and told “You’re OK. Go” – and then walking through the door. Life is all different. Completely different . Changed – and not as planned or expected. May have won the physical part of Cancer, but the remaining psychological remnants are equally brutal. Maybe predictable, but still difficult to deal with. We deal with it – close relative/ancient realtives deal with it.
    Fear of loss of hormones overrated. Life is different, but as you age, you are different anyway. Be the erratic old cranky person waving a cane – it’s fun- and if you lived long enough you get that right to be who you want. You’ve got a good number of years left – and grandkids to show old people are still people.
    You can appoint another person to be medical advocate for you if you want. You are in charge of you.
    Old Transcendental woods guy once said “Don’t look backwards – unless you are planning to go that way.”
    Be the shark – one of your own invention.
    (Been wondering how you were and here’s a post)

    1. Funny you shouldl mention “walking through the door.” Even that was a part of it. It’s a bit scary to have had all those doctors and nurses and techs as practically your entire life for a good 18 months or so, and then suddenly they’re gone. They’d become a way of life, and suddenly they were gone. I actually missed going to the clinic every week or so (true, the daily radiation was a bit of a drag)), seeing people who were so supportive and caring and understanding. But all’s well now. Or at least, as good as it’s going to get. Don’t be looking for any sharks, though. More likely a tortoise movin’ on down the road.

      1. It almost feels like being tossed out of a speeding car. “You’re fine. Go on with your life. Bye.” I know the medical team has to move on to another patient, but there’s such a vacant feeling.
        Oh well, I’ve never been good at perk you up speeches. Trudging onward works.
        It could be worse: you could be trudging onward here instead of there HAHA

        1. With your heat and humidity, I wouldn’t trudge very far, even on the best of days. Still, I’d rather be trudging there than still trudging to the cancer center every week.

          Saving some mountains for you, if you ever get back up here.

            1. Luckily Colo. is very dog-friendly. It amazes me that they can keep bringing vanloads of homeless dogs to Colo. and find homes for all of them. Makes me feel I’m not pulling my weight by having adopted only one.

              1. They send our large breeds to Co. by vans given by volunteers..sometimes small plane pilots fly them up. We take overflow Chihuahuas from California rescues/shelters. (We actually donate to a Co shelter supported by my niece who died of brain cancer as few years ago)
                Taking care of one dog is more than many do…and better than attempting more than is manageable (SPCA took in about 63 yesterday from well-meaning person who started a rescue and got overwhelmed). Every dog/cat safe in a home leaves room for one in a shelter where there’s a chance and at least safety and care.
                You can only do what you can – and that makes a difference

                1. It sure makes me think every person in Colorado must have a dog by now, if not several, and yet they keep coming. Amazes me that we can keep absorbing them. I always think how lucky they are to be coming to Colo.

"You don’t have to say everything to say something." ~Beth Moore

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s