Transition into Life After Cancer

Hello!
My name is Brianna Bossotti and I am 23 years old. About 6 months ago, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and my treatment is finally coming to an end. My last chemo is this upcoming Monday. I know this should be a happy and exciting time, but I am extremely anxious about transitioning into life after cancer. This has been my life for 6 months and I know it's going to take some time before I'm back to my old self. Before I had cancer, I had just started my first full time job out of college and I've been on a leave since my diagnosis. I am extremely worried about going back and being thrown right in, as I am going to need additional training. Since being diagnosed, I have been suffering from anxiety and a slight depression. I'm worried that's not going to go away once I'm done with treatment. Has anyone else experienced something like this?

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  • StephenMcRaeStephenMcRae Community Member
    edited November 2017 Vote Up0Vote Down
    one common side effect of going through "the cancer experience" is something called hyper vigilance which is pretty much the same thing as an anxiety disorder. I was diagnosed in 2007 and finished treatment in 2008 suffering from a something that seems similar to yourself. It first it was very severe but It has been nearly 10 years and I no longer have this problem. So a guess the good news is that it is not permanent although it does seem to take a long time to go away
  • I had a lot of anxiety and depression for years before cancer and it's gotten worse for me post-treatment, but that's mostly because I feel traumatized by doctors and medical procedures (even though it ironically saved my life). I have some coping tools I've built through the years to help me manage it which includes taking a low dose of an anti-anxiety medication when the stress keeps me from living my life. Finding the right medication is tricky but if you ever find yourself in a position where your quality of life has seriously deteriorated, it's worth at least asking a doctor about medication.

    I was told by my doctor that every month the cancer doesn't come back, the better you will feel, but that it often takes years for all the anxiety to go away. Anxiety and depression aren't fun, but I find I can still have a life. I have really bad days, but they're often followed by really wonderful days and so my life still has a lot of meaning and I'm making good memories. I make sure to take time to be grateful for what I have, to build stronger relationships with people in my life, and make sure I'm accomplishing at least very small goals each week so that even if the cancer came back, I can feel like my life was important and full. I think the more you can do to make life fun and rewarding, the faster you'll feel better. None of us like it, but suffering is part of the human experience so in some ways, this connects you to other people. Tons of people suffer from anxiety and depression so you are far from alone.

    My oncologist also said many cancer patients try to pick up their lives as if cancer never happened, but that it doesn't work because cancer changes you. So she recommended taking 6 months to figure out what happiness means to me now and what I want my future to look like. Good luck!

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