What now? Caring for the affects of Cancer

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
Two years ago my Fiancee was diagnosed with cancer. Having completed Surgery, Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy, she has been left with anxiety due to her Traumatic experience. I was lucky in as much as two months previously I had been made redundant from my job of 33 years, and so had enough redundancy money to cover the costs of being able to stay with her. She can't go out, and can't be on her own as she panics. My money will run out next month, and I don't think we can claim benefits. So what now?
Andrew, please ring the Carers UK helpline for financial advice. They will be able to give you full information about benefits etc. They helped me claim and extra £50 in benefits years ago, so I'm happy to recommend them to anyone.
Try Macmillan too - their web page is here: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/ it has on it in big numbers the free phoneline for advice (which includes money matters). Unfortunately, they are closed weekends and Bank Holidays, but you can get support through their 'Online community' i.e. a forum like this one.

Has your fiancee tried counselling? Does she have a contact like a specialist nurse or someone she can talk to, to get pointers towards help with her anxiety? People vary hugely in their reactions to cancer diagnosis and treatment, but many, many of us will tell you both two years is early days yet. Which reminds me, have a look for an organisation for the specific type of cancer, they are likely to have a forum too.

Let us know how you get on, if you get the chance.
I think perhaps your age and experience plays a part in how you cope and view being struck by any blow like Cancer, heart attack or stroke either personally or in the family.
Personally I was 16 when I lost my mum to Cancer over 30 years ago, and I can see looking back how hidden I kept the feelings of being bowled over and the ground being pulled from under me, never talking about it but feeling traumatised inside and keeping it to myself.
35 years on with a load more experience, information and lessons learnt from the past of how not to deal with things , I find myself handling all the recent life threatening traumas with Dad in a completely different way, more like a completely different person, facing things head on, researching and discussing everything.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that now I most definitely have Jenny's view on making the most of things and being grateful for the good bits, but looking back at myself as a teenager studying for A levels I wasn't seeing things from the same angle at all and I don't think anything anyone could have said to me at the time would have been the right thing to say.
Perhaps participating in forums like this is still partly trying to get through our own experiences and save others from walking in our footsteps. Hope that makes sense.
Too many people in my family have been affected by cancer. I just wish so much that I'd had some help and support when I needed it most. I never had anyone mention even one word of support or explanation to me. I find Jenny's attitude and views on the subject tremendously helpful.
The forum is all about sharing personal experiences, so that others might benefit. You don't have to agree with what has been written. You can write about your own experiences and beliefs too. There is no right or wrong.
Andrew, I'm concerned that the 'spat' above may have put you off the forum. Please don't let it!

If you wanted to 'start again' that might be a good idea! I'll stay off it - I've said my piece and that's about it really!

So much of how we react to trauma in our lives depends on what we've been through - and what we're going through. For example, if you're sometone who has had a 'blissful carefree life' with (like Jane Austen's Emma!) 'very little trouble or vex her', then having something as traumatic as a cancer diagnosis can easily overwhelm you almost because of the 'shock' of it and you've got no experience in how to handle 'bad stuff'.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, if you're someone who's had a really really grim time of things, plus those things are still going on, then a cancer diagnosis can simply be the final blow that lays you out cold.

Whatever the cause of why your girlfriend is so, so traumatised, such that it's crippling her life still, the MAIN thing is to get help for her in place, presumably by way of targeted counselling, and perhaps, too, some (temporary!) resort to meds??

And on top, of course, of the huge psychological impact of cancer, her body has been hit, and hit, and hit again both by the cancer AND all the treatments she's been through. Her system has been under huge assault, and that in itself, irrespective of the outcome, takes a lot of 'coming through'.

Best wishes, Jenny
Hi, one more 'stray thought' - apols.

Do you feel that part of your fiancée's reaction, eg, by not going outdoors any more on her own, is along the lines of the following:

Cancer isn't something we can control, therefore it's frightening. But going out IS something we can control. So if we 'control' something like going out/staying in, it makes us feel somehow more 'in control' of our life, which cancer ripped away from us?

ie, it becomes a kind of 'proxy' or 'displacement' ?
Hi folks, and Hi Andrew.

I can kind of see Jenny's point, and it is well-intentioned, but I thought I'd add my experience of mam's cancer. Mum has thankfully survived it, but she's in limbo as her cancer can be treated but not cured. Mam is in remission still at four years, the expectation with her type of cancer is two years' remission before relapse. So she's doing well, probably because of the clinical trial she participated in, which has unfortunately left her considerably brain-damaged and meant that I had to stop work to care for her.
Im not sure what type of cancer your partner had Andrew, whether it was a similar type to my mam's or whether the chemo and radiotherapy had left your partner with similarly serious cerebral and cognitive deficits. I'm glad mam is still alive, even with the disabilities she has now. But we live with the near certainty of her impending relapse, and its hard to keep a positive outlook sometimes. Although as time passes it is easier.
Im trying to say that cancer, and its outcome, is not always binary. For some people its not that one day you have cancer, and the next day you don't (because it was cured, or you died from it). Particularly for the first two years of mam's remission it felt like her relapse was so close, it was just around the corner. I couldnt relax and be grateful, I couldnt give up the fear that it would kill her, because it hadnt really gone away. It was still lurking in the background. A bit like Shroedinger's cat in that mam simultaneously didnt have cancer, but also did have cancer; both outcomes were equally probable in one moment that they coexisted. I couldnt even be grateful that she survived the encephalitis caused by chemo, the multiple traumas her brain suffered from the initial cancer, then the seizures and haemorrhages caused by toxicity.
It has been really traumatic, the first two years of mam's remission were really hard for me to cope with. It is much easier now though.

BUT, in terms of you and your partner, I hope she has been referred for some support, depression and anxiety are not uncommon, and although very debilitating, are also treatable. You need to email carers UK, so you know what your entitlements are, where you can go to get advice regarding your partner's entitlements and how to go about getting both your needs assessed (independently of each other). Good luck.
Hi everyone,

I wanted to chip into this thread to get it focused back on why we're here - to support Andrew, who is going through what must be a very difficult time at the moment. I also wanted to highlight some organisations which may be able to help.

Andrew has raised a really important issue here. It's clearly fantastic news that more people are surviving cancer. However, a cancer diagnosis is life-changing and can affect people even after they've been given the all-clear. There's no right or wrong way to feel - it's different for everyone. The impact of cancer does not suddenly stop when treatment is over - it's a long journey, and people may need support at different stages along the way.

This NHS page is about life after cancer, and the complex emotions someone may feel as they adjust: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/cancer/Pages ... ancer.aspx

It specifically mentions anxiety and depression - more info here: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anx ... xiety.aspx

It also suggests talking to your cancer care team, who can give advice on where to go for further support once cancer treatment has finished. Depending on your area, they may be able to refer you to a psychologist who specialises in cancer care.

Macmillan has also done some research into the physical & emotional problems that affect many people who are living with or beyond cancer - you can have a look here: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/GetInvolved ... ancer.aspx

So it sounds like Andrew and his fiancee need to get some advice about the impact caring is having on their finances (Andrew, do contact the Carers UK Adviceline on 0808 808 7777 Mon-Fri, 10am - 4pm to talk it through, or email advice@carersuk.org). They also need to get support to help them deal with the anxiety Andrew's fiancee is currently experiencing.

Here are some links to various helplines and local support centres which may be able to help:

Macmillan (including local support groups): http://www.macmillan.org.uk/information ... king-to-us
Maggie's cancer support centres: https://www.maggiescentres.org/our-centres/
Mind: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/

I hope this is useful, if anyone else knows of any other information or support that could be helpful do post it.

All the best,

Kate
Hello Andrew. Wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you. Not going to say much more except that I truly believe everyones emotional pain is unique but very painful to the individual. I hope you will use the forum. It's a release and helpful. Hope you are feeling a little better even if only for short periods. Take care xx