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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ups and Downs

"So, kiddo, how are you doing?" asked my oncologist, as he opened my files (the one on his desk and the one on his computer).

"Well," I began, "my mood has been swinging up and down...."

He stopped.

"You get depressed?" he asked, with a puzzled look.

"Yeah, she does," confirmed Moshe.

"'cause I don't see it..." continued my oncologist.

Even in the chemo ward, my mood is usually upbeat -- probably because every week a different friend comes to hang out and I just enjoy the company so much!

"What are you feeling?" he asked, looking at me seriously.

"I'm having a hard time with the "long term" thing," I explained (not for the first time). "I just wish I could look forward to a time when it will be over."

"Do you want to see someone?" he asked (also not for the first time).

The thing is, I am not clinically depressed. I get out of bed in the morning. I am active. I have a strong support network: family, friends, my support group, and my blog.

What more would I get from therapy? I asked. There is no clinical indication that I need a psychologist. It all depends on how I feel.

Overall, I feel I am handling things pretty well. Both my husband and my oncologist agree.

But I still have mood swings. I still wish it would all just go away.

Someone once told me that all the cancer stuff would eventually fade into the background, like white noise from the radio.

I hope that is true.

Meanwhile, I hear the radio blaring and I really wish someone would change the channel.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Baila said...

I wish RivkA, that I could give you just the right words of chizuk, but those words escape me right now. I guess there are many people living with illness and handicapping conditions who could probably do a a better job. But I so admire that through it all you try to maintain an upbeat attitude and yet can be honest about what's going on in your head and heart. And I think that's a very healthy way of dealing with your illness.

Have a Shabbat Shalom.

Juggling Frogs said...

I think you are remarkably well adjusted, and have all your compass-needles pointing North.

But that doesn't mean that therapy is such a terrible idea. It might be nice to have a sounding board, someone who cares about you, but is professionally detached so that you can vent/discuss/analyze your life without having to give anything back.

Even in the support group, it's give and take. In therapy, it's a solid hour (or 50 minutes) that's all about YOU with no need to give back. That's something unavailable in another context.

Even if the person doesn't offer much in the way of suggestions, just being kovei itim about a time to examine your feelings aloud, could be a great benefit.

If you try it, and it's useless, there's no need to continue.

A Living Nadneyda said...

Plenty of us have gone for therapy with far smaller packages weighing us down.... I don't know if it would temper the mood swings, but it would give you a regular opportunity to "work on stuff." Have you consider art therapy? Might be right up your alley...

Shabbat Shalom.

Gila said...

My two cents...I agree with the other commenters. Therapy might be good right now.

Also--seems to me that the mood swings and depression are normal. You are going through something really, really difficult. What--you are supposed to be happy and peppy about it all the time?

Sarah said...

I'm with the other commenters: being clinically depressed isn't a prerequisite for therapy to be helpful. If you are feeling like you've got a problem in your life that is too big for you to handle on your own, or even with your great social network (and duh, for whom is cancer NOT too big a problem?) then having one more source of mental/emotional assistance can only help (as long as you find a therapist who is a good fit for you).

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Just because you can function does not mean that you are not "mildly" or "clinically" depressed.


Anonymous said...

RivkA, they are looking for people for a new drug therapy that seems to be working for women whose breast cancer has spread to other parts of their bodies.

Please take a look at this news item:

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

oy oy oy - Shevi, another drug and here I'm trying to convince RivkA to go with food - honestly you wish for cancer to be gone and it has been for others who have realized that there is another way. And to me personally it looks a lot easier than chemo (but then I'm not you I know!!)

sorry, I know we've gone this round before - you can tell me to go jump in the lake - but it saddens me so to see people suffer when macrobiotics has helped so many. At least can I loan you a book that might inspire you that cancer can be beat??


Anonymous said...

About that comment that all this stuff will fade into the background... well, from my experience, it doesn't. I'm sorry to tell you that. The health issues we are stuck with for the rest of our lives never fade into the background. It's my hope for both of us that they become easier to live with on a more regular basis, but don't let someone tell you that things are going to change and be a certain way. All we have is one day at a time.

The ups and downs are so real for me, too. I just had a really sad Shabbat, having to actually leave the Shabbat table because of tears bubbling up to the surface.
That being said, I do miss therapy. I'm switching therapists, and the new one isn't available until the end of Sept. I can recommend that it is a good thing to have, just knowing that once a week there is a really safe place for you to talk & cry.
We all see you as such a happy, peppy person. That doesn't mean that there is no space for the downs. You have cancer. Make a safe place for yourself to cry & talk about it freely. It's worth it. Hugs

Anonymous said...

ok everyone is pushing therapy, and fine it might be helpful, but rivkA, just to put life in perspective, i think most woman suffer from some sort of mood swings sometimes, even those of us with bh easier lives. and the truth is that cancer sucks. therapy might be a great thing, but it wont cure your cancer. and therapy would mean having to talk and focus on your cancer. dont get me wrong, i have nothing against therapy, and you can always try it out, just wanted to give you another perspective.

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Oh gosh I have to learn to make time to read blogs on weekends. :)

Yes to therapy, SOME kind of therapy, if the idea speaks to you.

No to therapy if you are resistant to the idea.

Faith/Emuna you are probably right, but who says that a little support won't make riding those waves easier?

And if we're talking about Emuna - well - I'm biting my tongue RivkA. I think you know what I'm thinking and why I'm not saying it. :)

I love you! And FWIW I think you are VERY healthy emotionally but there is no reason not to make a good thing better.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Baila – thanks for “just the right words of chizuk” ;-)

Juggling Frogs, ALN, Gila, ABH, Sarah – see Ups and Downs – Part II

ye’he sh’mey – I know you believe it, but I don’t. I’m actually giving a talk in two weeks about living with cancer, and emuna. (from my perspective) It will be in Petach Tikvah. You (and anyone else who wants to com) are invited! (women only)

Faith – THANKS!!

Shevi -- thanks for the link. This study is not for me. I am not triple negative. Though I am ER/PR negative, I am HER2 positive. I am not eligible for the study.

Klara – if I were not taking drugs, I would likely die within the next 4 years (maybe less). It is not responsible to encourage people to “cure” cancer exclusively with diet. There is nothing wrong with adopting a healthy diet (MB or other) in addition to chemotherapy.

There are MANY different types of cancers. There are NO serious scientific studies which show that an MB diet can cure cancer. (I checked this out) There are lots of pro-MB sites. There are many anecdotal stories.

Please, I don’t want to delete your comments, and I value your enthusiasm. You can advocate for MB if you want (within reason). But, in the future, I will delete comments that advocate replacing chemotherapy with diet.

A good diet is not a substitute for chemotherapy.

Juggling Frogs said...


I apologize. I read your post differently than you meant it. I read it as wondering how/why it could be worth having therapy when you have a great attitude, and even though you are well adjusted.

I also thought you were indicating that it wouldn't be worth taking time & resources for yourself, unless it was for a medical (i.e. clinically depressed) reason.

Clearly, if you don't want or think you need therapy, then you shouldn't feel obligated to add it to your already-full plate.

I think the other commenters and I were all just trying to give you chizzuk for going if you wanted to go, but didn't feel it justified.

I doubt anyone was trying to convince you to go against your wishes or better judgement.

Juggling Frogs said...

P.S. Just reread your post in light of these comments.

When I read "wish I could change the channel", I thought you meant the "cancer stuff", but now realize you probably meant, instead that the station was tuned to all of the people recommending therapy.

Had I read it the way you meant it, I'd never have added to the noise. I'm sorry.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Juggling Frogs -- thanx. If just one or two people (even three or four) had recommended therapy, it wouldn't have bothered me. But, it seemed like everyone was suddenly pushing therapy down my throat. (I got several emails too, so it wasn't just in the comments). More than ten people telling me to go for therapy was just too much.

About changing the channel -- well, you read that right the first time!


Anyway, don't sweat it. I know that everyone's intentions were in the right place!