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delsol

Any Other Cancer Survivors on Here?

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delsol

I just wanted to put it out there that I am a breast cancer survivor (5 years cancer-free very soon), and I'm writing to see if anyone else on here has dealt with cancer. I want to announce loud and clear that while cancer is a harrowing experience, antidepressant withdrawal is far harder, in my opinion, and the reason is that when I had cancer, people reached out in droves. I got free stuff (massages, rides, groceries, wigs, food, etc.). People don their ribbons and walk/run in charity runs all over the country for cancer. And that is great -- except that with this withdrawal, we largely must suffer in silence; we have no charity walks;  our doctors don't get it; people don't really want to hear too much about it.

 

I will also draw some parallels between the psychiatric med industry and the cancer treatment industry. Cancer doctors get furious if you take matters/treatment into your own hands; they try to scare you with, "If you don't do all these rounds of chemo, you could die sooner."  I must be some kind of renegade; I did not finish my chemo; I had a rapidly-progressing cancer and chose just to have the surgery (mastectomy); the surgery was successful and I am still here, sans much chemo. I found the grassroots cancer survivor networks online who helped themselves heal with non-traditional methods and believe I am alive because of them. Anyway, sites like this are also full of grassroots survivor groups of people pulling together to find a way. I consider myself largely "healed" from cancer. So... We must band together and share info so we can heal our brains from psych drugs.

 

Whether you've had cancer or not, I think some important parallels can be drawn. That is my belief anyway.

 

 

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bottlehalffull

I had cancer a while ago (my five year clean mark passed a couple years ago), and I feel like the chemo took something from me. I had cancer in my 20's and feel like it aged me 10-20 years in six months. Chemo brain is real. The worst effects cleared up in about 6 mo to a year after stopping (did 6 cycles RCHOP for aggressive lymphoma), but I still have issues with decreased attention span, decreased ability to multitask, brain fog, and my ability to deal with stress is a lot lower.  And that's not even mentioning the long term physical effects. I wish I was more firm with my doctor and only did four cycles and stopped when my first scan showed clean. Six is the standard, she convinced me. Or four plus radiation, but radiation would have completely destroyed my ovaries so I said no to that and opted for more chemo.

 

I don't feel like I got that much community help when I had cancer. The first two cycles of chemo I had some help from friends but after that I sort of felt like I was depressing to be around and they were over it. Maybe I could have reached out more, but one of the worst chemo brain affects at the time was an inability to follow conversations or have the attention span to finish sentences.I'm also not impressed with the whole charity walk trend, but I don't really want to get into that here....

 

Anyway, I don't think antidepressant withdrawal is more hard than dealing with cancer, because almost a decade later I still feel like I'm dealing with the cancer, and that I should "feel lucky I didn't die" or somesuch. Any oncologist I try to talk to about the issues I'm having now I get the impression that they don't know why I'm bothering them. Their job is saving lives, my life has already been saved, now can I please just leave so they can see the patients that actually need them? And my type of cancer mostly occurs in old men, so finding other young women who've had it for support (or finding research on effects in my demographic group) isn't easy. Lucky for me the rates of this cancer in young people are going up?

 

I didn't have any symptoms besides a painlessly but extremely swollen lymph node, so chemo has only ever made me feel worse. Antidepressants and psych meds at least made me feel better, at least for a while.

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delsol

I don't know why, but I just now saw your post, @bottlehalffull. I must have forgotten to turn on notifications for this thread. Anyway, thanks for your reply and for sharing your experiences.

 

On 12/21/2019 at 8:02 AM, bottlehalffull said:

Anyway, I don't think antidepressant withdrawal is more hard than dealing with cancer, because almost a decade later I still feel like I'm dealing with the cancer,

 

I wonder if I was not dealing with AD withdrawal, if I would be more focused again on worrying about cancer or its return?  Something inside me says, "Yes."  I tend to drift toward fear of cancer whenever there is no other distraction. AD withdrawal is a pretty big distraction.

 

I probably never recovered fully from the emotional aspects of cancer.  I didn't do much chemo, much to the oncologist's chagrin, so I didn't have much "chemo brain." Cancer gave me a sense of pressured time/that time was of the essence in any life goal -- and so I suppose that includes my desire to finally get off psych drugs. I wonder, without the cancer, if I'd still be trying to stay on the drugs. 

 

Thanks for your perspective. There are probably more than just the two of us (cancer survivors) on here. 

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