Monday, August 31, 2015

Admitting When You're In Over Your Head

I was under a little stress.  I know we all are at times, but this was the type of stress/anxiety that I was not able to shake like I used to and was not expecting the level of anxiety I was having.

When you are going through initial cancer diagnosis, all the crap in between, chemo (when you actually "look sick"), the time after your reconstruction, if you choose to have it, I feel that in people's minds they are a lot more patient, understanding and compassionate.  Then you finish that last chemo, radiation, surgery and everything changes.  BAM.  Snap your fingers, you are supposed to be back to your "old self".  Well ladies and gents, that old self died.  Anyone who  has gone through any sort of traumatic experience in their life will NEVER be the same.

I honestly have felt like a baby bird that was thrown from the nest, and that I landed right on my face. Trust me, I would never want to go back through all of that, but I feel like during all of it, things were much easier for me.  The hundreds of appointments actually made me feel to some extent that I had a purpose and after I was done I felt that I barely had any, I felt an uneasy silence or void.  As quickly as I felt like I had the rug pulled out from me when I was diagnosed, I almost felt more alone when I was all done and free and clear.  I am trying to re-acclimate myself to society, but I could not help but think that I was doing a prison sentence, not knowing if I was going to be released and have to some extent been institutionalized.  I felt awkward in social situations, where I was not before.  I thought during that dark part of my life that when people saw them all they see is, "cancer girl" or, "oh Emily's here all she's going to talk about is cancer." I feel most comfortable when my husband is with me, I feel like he is my safety blanket. 

Being diagnosed with cancer was the most traumatic thing I had ever gone through in my life, then on top of it being diagnosed with Li Fraumeni scares me to the core.  I fear that every lump, bump, headache, sore muscle, or joint pain is cancer.  At the same time I also cannot help but think that people think I am overreacting or being dramatic, so I usually just keep those fears inside and cover them up with a smile.  Getting cancer again is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to bed, and I'm hoping time will help with that.  People just don't get that the Emily I was before I was diagnosed died when I got that phone call and all I felt like was an empty shell.  

I know not everyone will agree with the fact that Chad and I chose to get our embryo's tested, but if you are a parent, or just a caring human being, all you want is for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friend's kids etc to be HAPPY and HEALTHY.  While we 150% know that our decision to do that was the best one, and that we prevented three of our possible children from living a life of tests, scans, blood draws, pokes, and potential cancer diagnosis, I feel this heavy shadow of disapproval.  It makes me want to scream and punch something, and at the same time want to curl up in a ball and cry.  

One thing you can really rely on cancer, or any life changing situation to do, is to show who cares and who doesn't.

With all of this going on, and trying to "be normal", my anxiety was building.  My poor husband, who is an absolute saint, was dealing with the brunt of my problems.  I am on three medications right now: Tamoxifen, for my breast cancer, Vitamin D, because living in Wisconsin we have all sorts of fabulous sunlight...NOT and a Thyroid medication to lower my levels (for the embryo transfer).  I am in the midst of preparing my body for the IVF later this year, (November now) and my fertility doctor advised that although my Thyroid levels are perfect right now, it has shown in the past that if they are lower, the chances of a successful pregnancy increase! YAY!

I'm not saying one or the other is causing this, but I was sick and tired of feeling so depressed, when I should not have anything to be depressed about.

So, I have enlisted the help of the Quality of Life Center at Froedtert with their Psych-Oncology clinic to get me back on track.  I met with Ann a few months ago after I woke up crying and spent the entire day having a panic attack.  I had a complete and total melt down, to the point where I could not even get out of bed.  With her help, and the help of a good friend, generic Lexapro, I am back on track and not ashamed to share it.  I truly feel that I am as close to the old me as I will ever get!  I am a very strong woman, but everyone needs a little help from time to time and I realized that when I hit my "rock bottom".  I feel there is this stigma associated with anxiety, depression and mental illness.  People are so afraid to talk about it, or admit that they are in over their heads, which isn't healthy within itself.  Admitting you need a little help does NOT mean that you are weak in any way shape for form, it just means that you've been strong for far too long.

Since I have been on this medication, I have felt AH-MAZING....  While some things bother me still, (obviously), like bad drivers and well...bad drivers., I do not have the short fuse that I had before (wanting to punch a wall if I could not find my phone that I later found and realized I lost it, not my husband). <<<Reason 8,152 why my husband is a saint.

Recently I had my yearly brain MRI and it showed a little something-something that wasn't there last year, which led me into a panic/crying/hot mess/not able to breathe/feeling like the rug was pulled out from under me again sort of feelings.  I was not expecting it, and did not bring anyone with me to that appointment, so when the doctor came in and told me that there was something found, I freaked and forgot almost everything she had told me.  Lesson learned.  ALWAYS bring someone else to your appointments.  One of my main rules, and I didn't follow it.  Shame on me.

As you can tell the little "freckle" as I am calling this was not there last October and is now.  Which delays the embryo probably November.  I did eventually remember that the doctor said my "freckle" didn't light up with contrast, so that means it is not cancer, but because of my Li Fraumeni they have to be extra cautious.  So a follow up MRI for October 15th is scheduled.  While this is a bump in the road, I am not going to let it stop us and the frozen ones from completing this mission: Having Kids That Will Hate Us Some Day!

brain MRI, MRI, Li Fraumeni, LFS, lifraumeni, freckle, spot, lesion, froedtert, lexapro, help, anxiety, stress, depression

I just have to keep thinking, "Don't worry, about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright"....

Deep breaths.


  1. You have a sympathetic reader here. I've wrapped up (almost) my treatment and sometimes feel as you do. I'm glad you found the assistance you needed. I wish you good health.

    1. Time and a little meds did the trick! Wish you all the best and know there is help out there if you continue to feel that way! <3 hugs survivor!

      Em C.