Ups & Downs

↑Ups & ↓Downs

Prior to meeting your oncologist at the cancer centre, you are asked to fill out a quick online survey each time you visit. The survey was created by Cancer Care Ontario and it asks you a series of questions. They include questions about pain, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, appetite, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety and wellbeing. The survey is written using a Likert scale with rating from 0 to 10. They track your answers over time to see if there are any significant changes in each of the categories.  I assume that the health professionals use the data to monitor your health and wellbeing during your treatments.

Two of the questions that are asked, surprised me. They were the questions about your current level of anxiety and another question asking about your level of depression. When I first began to complete these surveys,  I questioned why they would include them. I have cancer, not anxiety or depression. I began to realize their importance after my second round of chemo.

The Canadian Cancer Society points out, that both the patient and his/her family can, and most likely will go through a series of emotions which can including: shock, fear, denial, anger, guilt, anxiety/stress, loneliness/isolation, sadness, depression and hope. I must say that I have experienced most of these emotions over the last few months.

Levels of anxiety and depression do change over time during treatments. I find (and my family finds) that my level of depressive thoughts significantly increases after my round of chemotherapy (especially the three days following the removal of my chemo bottle).  It also has increased after each round of chemo. I am beginning to wonder if it has something to do with my treatments and the fact that they continue to penetrate my whole body system for extended periods of time.

Despite trying to remain positive, negative thoughts do enter your mind and cause moments of despair. I guess that this is something that should be expected. Even the most positive person has moments of despair. I have previously talked about ways that help me to deal with these emotions including: my family, friends, music, nature and laughter.

Other ways that I am trying to add to my emotional toolkit are; mindfulness exercises and positive affirmations. At times, SWEARING helps too! Those that know me, know that I'm not really the swearing type but I must say that since my diagnosis I have said "F#*K cancer!" more than a few times (usually in my head but occasionally it has slipped out loud). Believe it or not, it does have a short term, immediate positive effect. It seems to release some of my built up stress!

Anxiety can also build over time. The fear of the unknown. What will happen next? Is the treatment making any difference at all? These are all questions that come to the surface periodically. This can cause anxious moments.

My biggest concern at the moment is how to support my family and their emotions, while trying to deal with my own emotions at the same time? We all have our up & down moments in any given day. We are working through these emotions one day at a time and trying to push the positive thoughts to the surface more often than the negative.

Trying to stay positive!

Richard





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