Post-op chemo depression - how to combat it and how to give effective support

My wonderful wife and soul-mate had IDS some weeks ago and had one session of carboplatin 4 weeks later. It has been hell for her. She has been quite unwell, her white blood cell count is frighteningly low. So low that they would not give her the last lot of chemo three weeks after the first. She is so down, I really don't know what to do. She has been so upbeat and resilient all the way until now.

Trevor

13 Replies

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  • I am sorry that you are having a hard time at the moment, I am sorry to be so thick but I am struggling to understand what IDS means?? (it must be my chemo brain Doh!) it is natural for her to be down though and it is good that you are a support for her, even though you might not feel much help at the moment I am sure you are, I know it is hard but please try and stay strong for her, perhaps try and think of some sort of distraction, maybe do/watch/listen to something that she and you might enjoy sending you my best wishes and love x G x

  • I am sorry to hear your wife is having a bad time. Like Gwyn, I didn't know what IDS is either. I don't knowing it will help, but If you use the search box at the top right of the page, type in 'white blood count' , 'staying positive', 'feeling down', maybe there will be some helpful comments on there from previous conversations.

    Sending a big hug to her (((xxx)))

    Love Wendy xx

  • What is IDS?

    LA

  • Interval Debulking Surgery - the super hysterectomy that's done to cut away as much of the cancerous tissues as humanly possible

    Sorry to confuse.

    Trevor

  • Thank you Trevor,

    I have never been very good with abbreviations, but it is obvious now you have spelt it out, Doh! You think I would have known seeing as I have had debulking surgery and chemo twice.

    Try not to worry about her low white cell count they will give her more chemo just as soon as it is back up again,I don't think it has to be back to normal, probably it was too low to risk it at the time best wishes love x G x

  • Dear Trevor,

    It is hard - even harder in some ways -for the partners; who are faced with the threat of losing someone so important to them, dealing with their own fears, and those of the patient, and the feeling that they have to 'do the right thing'.

    Your wife is experiencing a combination of the result of the disease and the treatment (huge insults to one's physical condition both surgically and chemically; huge insult to one's existential security psychologically). Depression is natural and bound to happen.

    A diagnosis of cancer is a deep wound to our personal safety and security, and I think it can be especially difficult for close couples. I was very depressed, not only by my predicament, but the fears I had for what would happen to my dear husband (and a feeling that I was betraying all those things we had always wanted together). It was hard to express all this whilst also trudging through the nightmare of treatment and recovery.

    So; what to do about it? Firstly; kick out the spectre of death. That can be dealt with later if necessary - for now; you both need to recognise that women do survive this disease, and your beloved wife wants to be one of them. Talk about how you feel - to each other, and to other friends. Employ a counsellor if it helps. Don't try to protect each other from yourselves... you both need truth and authenticity now.

    Let her be depressed, and don't take it too personally - she will get through it.

    Practically; do all you can through diet, lifestyle and immune support to get her in the best physical condition she can be in to withstand the chemo.

    Then work on having the life together you both want and defying the stupid cancer. I have to say that the horror of 3c aggressive ov.ca. has been in many ways the best thing that has happened in our lives as we now live the life we were always working toward, but never stopped working long enough to live!

    Step back - let her be whatever she is - don't feel responsible - and suggest that she gets some support for herself.

    Wishing you the very best,

    Isadora.

  • Dear Trevor,

    The fact that your wife's white blood count was too low for her to undergo chemo at the usual 3 week interval, is actually quite normal. It happens to many women. Once her counts are where they should be to allow chemo, she'll be able to have it and her body will be ready (once again) for the onslaught of chemicals sent to her body.

    Over the 13 years I have known and seen women going through chemo, it is really quite common to delay chemo and in the long run she'll feel better for it.

    I know this journey is very difficult for you, in some ways even worse for you (mentally) than it is for her, but I feel she needs you to be very strong for her and that's probably very hard for you to do at this time.

    Just do what you can do. Arrange some special times together. Go to the park or in the country for a romantic picnic: Buy her something silly and special: Try to make her laugh and show her how much you love her in every way possible. Yes, Trevor, this is the voice of experience as I remember how my sweet husband was (and still is) with me when we were going through the things you're going through now. All those positive, special things he did for me and with me, made me want to fight with everything I had. Yes, we had some teary times ... sometimes we ended up laughing and crying at the same time. Everyone on this board understands exactly what I'm talking about and everything you're going through.

    The advice Isadora, Wendydee and Gwyn have given you is excellent and it's probably based on their own personal experiences. Pass along to your wife that women do live after Ovarian Cancer. I was diagnosed almost 14 years ago with Stage 1V Ovarian cancer - and I'm still here - and in remission after finishing first line treatment! Please tell her that wont you, because she needs to know that women do survive and thrive after this diagnosis. With your help, she will get through this temporary hurdle and soldier on. I know you both will get through this Trevor, we're counting on you!

    Sandy.

  • Dear Trevor

    I'm really sorry to hear your wife is feeling so low. The advice you've had already is spot-on because we've been there too. It's really hard to stand by and watch your loved-one suffering so much and just one look at my husband's face sometimes reduces me to tears.

    To some extent being depressed is a good thing because your wife is dealing with the problems. I'm not one for taking medication but I would say if it is becoming a negative force she may well find a dose of anti-depressants give her a break so that she can then deal with the problems more rationally.

    It's two years since my diagnosis of 3c. At the time I couldn't have imagined how good life would be. I've reappraised my life and perhaps I do things differently these days. I have been overawed by the kindness of family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. I truly feel my life has become very rich.

    I'm sure you'll both find a way through this as you're obviously such a close couple and that's a blessing in itself.

    Wishing you well. xxx Annie

  • Hi Trevor,

    My husband is a Trevor too, I am all that clued up on the blood count situation but I feel sure what everyone else has said about them are correct.

    I won`t say try not to worry because its impossible when its happening in the here and now.

    As for the depression this might help ~ When I was in the recovary from surgary stage I had an almighty horrible infection so my chemo kept being dealayed, I remember how this affected me. Then when I was finally booked in for my first chemo, I was snet home because there were still signs of infection. I sat in the chemo clinic balling my eyes out. They tried to reasure me that another week or two wait would be fine, so all I can say is a delay in your wifes second chemo shouldn`t affect her prognosis.

    But going back to this waiting time - I was so incredibaly ill my husband called out the GP for a house visit, he sat on the end of my bed and said "I want you to start taking the same medication I have perscribed for Trevor", It is called citalopram 10mg, I take one a day and so does my Trev.

    The GP explained that they are only a mild anti-depressant with no long term side effects and they are not addictive.

    OMG do they help enormessly for us both and we continue to take them 2 years down the line which is our choice.

    The doc first perscribed them for Trev because he was of course worried as you will be and the doc told him he had to be strong in order to support me. Trev said he felt as though he didn`t really need them but sometimes you think you are doing alright when really you are not as strong as you may think. He noticed such a difference taking them. He stopped crying himself to sleep at night. They worked like that for me too. Its hard to explain, they don`t dull your sensences so much that you are dumbed with no feeling or emotion but they keep it under a nice even control. I know we have both found it easier to think about the positives rather than thinking about planning our my funeral which I admitt `I secretly was`.

    I do understand there is a lot of stgma about taking anti-depressants, none of want that on our medical records and everything thereafter be blamed on depression. I assure you it doesn`t work like that in these modern times.

    It is perfectly 100% normal for your wife to be feeling the way she is right now and you too, it is also perfectly normal and acceptable to seek a little help and support from the GP, bless your hearts, I have 100% empathy for you both.

    May I ask? Are you able to talk about the fears to one another? I ask because not everyone can, the sufferer wants to protect their loved ones and vice versa. But once me and my hubby started to open up after one of my many break downs, I had no idea he had the exact same fears, after knowing this we were able to talk openly. Even now I sometimes say something to him and he says "I have been thinking about that too".

    I wish you all the best - stay safe and look after yourself too.

  • Hi all,

    Thank you for your support and advice. She is somewhat better now - perhaps the doubling of her, and my, anti-depressants have helped. She really has gone through the wars. In late April 12 she was diagnosed with stage 3 OC and went on to have chemo - to consist of 6 before surgery and 3 after. After 3 sessions we decided to take a week away in Norfolk in our caravan. Woe of woes, Pam fell and had broken her hip. 6 of the 8 days holiday in hospital whilst they pinned and screwed her hip. OC surgery was postponed until the hip was healed, more chemo. When she went for her IDB (!) pre-op assessment she was already aware that the hip operation had failed. With marvellous co-operation between surgeons, Pam had a full hip replacement in Norwich 7 days later! 4 weeks later she had her IDB, and still she was cheerfully treating it all as 'a life experience'. This last chemo, the first after surgery, just floored her, both physically and mentally. We will survive!

    Thanks again, with your help we'll come out on the other side stronger than before.

    Trevor

  • Hi Trevor,

    Glad things are improving, don't forget you are dealing with chemo brain affected women on here so I have no idea what IDB is ???? I get what IDS is now but???

    not to worry happy new year to you and your wife best wishes x G x :-)

  • Sorry, Sorry, Sorry,

    The I in IDB stands for idiot (me that is!!) It should have read IDS.

    With cringing apologies from a mere male,

    Trevor

  • Hahaha!!! apologies accepted I thought it was a brain teaser LOL I may be able to sleep soundly tonight x G x :-/ ;-)

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