Depression & Bladder Cancer
Last updated: June 2019
We all feel "down" from time to time, but how do you know when it is getting a bit more serious than just 'being low'?
Bladder cancer isn't the "good cancer"
Bladder cancer is one of the most difficult life events I have ever encountered. And yet, it is seen as "not a proper cancer." I find this quite alarming, as with only a 15-46% survival rate for advanced bladder cancer and a high chance of a recurrence, you would be mistaken to think it is a "good cancer."
Life on the bladder cancer treadmill is often full of treatments, treatments that, until recently, hadn't been updated for 30 years. Now we have immunotherapy bringing up the rear; however, most people diagnosed will be treated with BCG or chemotherapy which are directly placed into the bladder. These treatments can be done over several years, and 'top-ups' (maintenance therapy) will happen intermittently.
Living under the weight of anxiety
Is it any wonder that the majority of people that I have spoken to have, at one point or another, gone to their doctors and asked for a 'bit of help'? The constant weight of anxiety on our shoulders, the worrying, the fear and anxiety of recurrences are enough to send any sane person bonkers. So, how do you know when you need that little bit of extra help?
I can only speak for my own experiences and for me, the warning signs were there, and yet still I continued to fool myself into thinking that all was well. I began to lose interest in everything that I had once enjoyed. So, watch out for not having the attention span to read a book or reading the same lines numerous times or disinterest in TV programs that once were a passion. I slowly lost my willingness to bake cakes and cook meals. Music was another passion of mine, and yet now music made my ears hurt, it confused my brains, I couldn't bear it loud.
Everything seemed overwhelming
Everything seemed to be such an effort. Everything seemed to be overwhelming. I once was a party animal but had begun to retreat into my own world, refusing invites to go out and not wanting to speak to other people. Just not being bothered about 'anything.' My attention span was gone; I didn't have the patience to listen to other people talking about their day. I didn't want to know. Although deep down, I was hoping that tomorrow I would wake up and want to be part of this world.
I felt so low
My days became long, and I couldn't tell what I had done from dawn to dusk. I just 'got through.' I did enough to keep me functioning, but inside I felt so low.
After a few months, my family had noticed and were constantly trying to help me which pushed me further into my own little world. I would laugh on the outside, and on the inside, I would feel like crying. It all came to a head when my doctor who performed my surgery had made a mistake. I completely lost it. I couldn't believe after all this time they had got something so wrong despite telling them the same thing for years.
That's when I realized that I couldn't carry on the way I was. I couldn't carry on ignoring how I felt. Nothing made my soul feel alive, nothing made me happy. In essence, I think I was ready to give up.
The pressure to be positive
You see, we have so much pressure on us as a cancer patient, pressure to be positive, stay positive and to be brave, but I was sick of having to pretend that everything was okay and that I was brave and positive. Because I wasn't brave, and I wasn't positive. How do you stay positive when you are told you are going to die?
I ended up going to my doctors, and they sorted out counseling for me, not only to come to terms with my terminal diagnosis but also to help me LIVE with bladder cancer. To remind me that we only have one life and while I was still living and breathing, I deserved a good life, for however many years I have left.
Counseling has given me focus
Counseling has given me focus; it has helped me deal with all the anxiety that we can feel after being diagnosed and beyond. I don't mind admitting that I am also on antidepressants to give me a boost, to help me through this incredibly tough time.
I guess this article is about looking at your life and seeing if you are just 'a bit' down or whether you are actually "depressed." There is no shame in admitting that we need help. In fact, I think we are stronger for being open and honest about how we feel.
Has cancer impacted your mood during the holidays?