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Emotional Well-Being & Depression during Chemotherapy


Chemo Depression

March 30, 2014

Journal Dump #020


While enduring the treatment of chemotherapy, the physical symptoms are a given.  Search any website and they will list several of the most common, such as hair loss, digestion issues, extreme dry skin, mouth sores, etc.  But much less talked about are the emotional symptoms of going through chemo.  I did a quick search, only to find mentions of how to cope when you are diagnosed, as well as information on the anxiety of recurrence after treatment is complete.  Where’s the support when you are quietly going insane DURING treatment?


It’s not what I feel, it’s what I don’t feel.  I don’t feel like myself.  Who am I?  Cancer was certainly not part of my life plan.  Neither was being bald. My insides don’t match my outsides. Or do they?  I feel like my insides are rotting and being poisoned by the chemo, and on the outside I am bald, my skin is pale and dry, and I can’t wear makeup or jewelry.  And I was all about the accessories!  Needless to say, my insecurity level these days is through the roof.  I don’t feel like myself, I don’t look like myself, I can’t think for myself like I used to… but I understand that to be called “chemo brain” and that story is for another day. 


Mornings are best for me but by around 3:00 in the afternoon and on into the night, I become lost in a state of confusion. The simple tasks and decisions are impossible, I feel sad and anxious but unable to complete anything I begin.  The mental depression gets worse with each chemo treatment.  The 4th AC chemo hit me real hard. So much so that my girlfriend had to stay home with me, while I lay sick in bed and just cried. Cried for her to take away the sickness, but knowing she couldn’t, the tears turned to cries for death to take me.


Insecurity and depression coupled with a serious lack of vitamin D can really be damaging to one’s mental state.  This is the part where others can be a huge help during treatment, even if you are stubborn like me and don’t want the help.   My mom and my girlfriend teamed up to gather support.  On my first day of taxol chemo, I was pleasantly surprised with two very special visitors.  Now, if asked ahead of time, I would not have wanted to see or talk to anyone, but what a blessing in disguise.


Shari is a nurse who used to work in this department but moved on. She made a special trip over on her lunch break to say hello and shed a beautiful smile! 


Beth Baldwin

Beth, as pictured with me above, is the unstoppable force of energy that surrounds the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY, and has been instrumental throughout my process.  Five months ago, she made her first call to me and we talked for almost an hour.  Since then, she has been the strength and support for myself and my family that just can’t go without being recognized.  Thank you so much Beth for being such a bright light in our community. You are an inspiration!


So, my first day of taxol wasn’t as taxing because of the wonderful company and beautiful people surrounding me.  A few hours of good conversation and getting a few things off my chest (no pun intended), was just enough sunshine to cure my anxiety.  For the days to come, taking some prescribed medication might help calm my nerves since I have been reluctant to take anything unless absolutely necessary.  Also, now that I am in the taxol phase of chemo and am through my doses of AC Chemo, I can try to get some exercise and possibly eat better, which may also help my mental state.  Each day, all we can do is hope.

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