The After period of FBC (f-bomb breast cancer for new readers) presents its own unique set of challenges. The anxiety and depression that sneaked in AFTER my breast cancer treatment was a real shocker. Once I was done with treatment, I thought I was done. However, yet again, FBC laughed right in my face!
The fantastic organization, Living Beyond Breast Cancer recently addressed anxiety and depression issues in a webinar (have you ever done a webinar? They are so great!) with psychiatrist Ruth H. Steinman.
Dr. Steinman assured us that although conflicting emotions can be confusing to you and those around you, anxiety and depression after breast cancer is absolutely normal and these difficult-to-hold emotions usually lessen over time.
Here’s an interesting (and sometimes confusing) thing about anxiety and/or depression after FBC treatment: they tend to occur at various frequencies and levels of intensity. These emotions can be suddenly re-experienced with “trigger events” such as anniversary dates, birthdays, holidays, etc.
I had a trigger event just last week when a young woman I knew died after a very sudden FBC recurrence. The last time I saw her in New York (about a year ago) she was going to have her radiation tattoos removed. Last week, she died. This sent chills down my spine and turned on my anxiety button. What I know is that these emotions can pop up at any time!
In the webinar, Dr. Steinman described certain things that can provoke anxiety and depression:
- Pain, fatigue, nausea
- Body image
- Inability to care for family
- Financial instability
- Tests/scans – waiting for results
- Appointments with oncology team
- Hearing of others recurrence or death
- Feelings of pain or fatigue, or develop a cough
She described the prevalent symptoms of anxiety and depression: