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Depression From Dealing With Cancer

answered 08:26 PM EST, Mon September 10, 2012
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Hello Stephanie,

I've been diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer which is now recurring at an extremely aggressive rate. The Dr. (Yes, I understand this is a statistical number) indicates that I have between 2-5 years, but then later indicated that since he doesn't have a crystal ball, it could be as high as 5-9 years. So, I'm struggling to come to terms with that. I believe I'm suffering from depression and am looking for a way to deal with the inevitable and the depression in the meanwhile.
What would you recommend?

Stephanie Adams Says...

There's no way to make news like this one "okay." It's a life-altering diagnosis. People react to this kind of diagnosis in different ways. Some feel like giving up, some decide to do things they've never done before, and some try to go on with things as they were.

You can only begin to overcome this particular kind of depression by asking yourself what you want out of your remaining years (whether those years number two, five, nine or twenty) and how to make a plan to achieve as many of those moments as possible. The answer to that one is complex, and different for everyone. For some it will be time with family, special events, for others it might be taking a risk or realizing a dream like writing a novel. But the most important thing right now is that you don't let yourself just wait for the worst to come...and instead choose what you want the remainder of your life to be. The former is the fastest route to depression, and the latter one of the most freeing choices you can make.

Outside of that, remember that dealing with all that comes with a diagnosis like this one really requires a team approach: you need to lean on your family and friends, seek out the support of spiritual leaders if applicable, and speak with doctors about treatment options. I would also recommend having a face-to-face session (or more than one) with a therapist knowledgeable in the areas of depression and terminal illness. Ask your doctor for a recommendation.

Try this, and remember - it's not over until it's over. You never know how things will play out.


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Page last updated Sep 10, 2012

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