May 22, 2000
Let-down After Test Results
Karolen I. Paularena
July 18, 2001
Karolen I. Paularena
This is a post to the Club-Mets list May, 19,2000
Reet wrote in about feeling depressed about good news. I think this is very common, based on what I've read here and what I've felt and what I've been told by others with cancer.
Maybe I've expressed this opinion before. Sorry for the repeat if so. What I think happens is that we gird ourselves for the worst (anything from disease progression to no more treatments kind of news). Then, we get good news (stable to it's working!). Hurrah. A sense of losing 100 pounds of anxiety follows. We feel lighter than air. It was NOT the bad news we feared.
But that's rapidly followed by a letdown. It wasn't the good news that we hoped for (if only secretly, in our innermost hearts, where we keep hope alive like a little flickering flame, hour after hour and day after day). We are only stable, or the disease reduction was small, or the hoped-for remission isn't there (yet).
So, it's up then down. And the down is a big down because the up was so high.
When I got my recent good news, my friend, who has survived melanoma (where one can truly say that after 10 years) and who has prostate cancer, was there. The next day he asked me if I was feeling depressed yet! Sure enough; I had found ways to worry about what the oncologist said, what the scan said, what the markers meant. Sometimes I think I am AFRAID to believe good news.
There is so much emotional pain associated with this disease. Things we have had to give up (like work or leisure activities), things we probably won't live to see (like children's weddings or grandchildren or a friend's triumph that is a long time coming), and people we cherish and fear having to leave. So it is very hard to hold on to good news without anxiety. Bad news could come SO quickly. Good news says, "Right this second, you are fine (whatever passes for fine in your particular situation). Tomorrow, who knows?" But bad news says, "Right now you are in trouble. Tomorrow you will be in trouble. Next week you will be in trouble." Our experience of bad news with this disease is that it lasts for a long time. Our good news seems, and sometimes truly is, transitory. So our happiness sundae comes with a good dollop of fear on top.
Just my reflections on this subject...