PTSD and Cancer
I have written several times before about PTSD and breast cancer. For a long time, I have felt that this diagnosis (hate to use that word, but can't easily come up with another) is a more appropriate concept than depression or anxiety for many cancer patients/survivors. Being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness, going through difficult treatments, and eventually being left with a changed body and spirit and without any promises certainly counts as trauma.
This is an absolutely wonderful article from Oncology Nursing Forum; it is a reprint of a lecture by Nancy Jo Bush, and I strongly recommend that you take the time to read it. Here is a brief excerpt and then directions re how to get the whole article:
I expected to lose my hair between 14 and 17 days after
the ?rst cycle of chemotherapy, just as I always informed
my patients. My son was ready, and so was I, when the
?rst clump of hair could be pulled out on the 14th day.
He shaved my head ?rst, and, after watching my soft
blonde locks fall to the ?oor, I watched his curly brown
locks fall. He shaved his head in support. I felt prepared.
I thought I knew exactly what to expect each step of
the way across the journey. I believed that being an
oncology nurse brought me the gift of knowledge and
support—I could be as brave as the patients I so dearly
Was I still myself or was there a new me and a new
normal I had to integrate? Why was I crying now? The
worst was behind me. I used fun, humor, prepared-
ness, and determination to get through the ?rst part of
my journey. Why was I depressed now? Why was I not
happy and proud to be a survivor with positive statistics
on my side? Where had all my friends and colleagues
disappeared to? They transitioned back into their lives
without me. I felt left behind. I was lonely. My husband
and son were attentive, but I felt that I suddenly had an
empty heart and empty hands to offer.
Directions to receive the whole article: email me, and I will forward it to you: