Living with Lymphoma and Depresssion

Christopher Lukas Health Guide

    While I wait to hear how serious a threat my returned lymphoma is to my health, and what treatment I will receive, I tread two separate paths. The first is an upbeat, we’ll-weather-this-just-like-before path; the second is a road of I’m-depressed, I’m-depressed, I’m-depressed.

    I came home from the city yesterday absolutely exhausted at 4 p.m. My wife suggested a bath and a nap. I slept for two hours, had supper, then went back for a 9 hour sleep. This was not due to the lymphoma, but rather to the anxiety and depression that lie beneath consciousness.

    This should be no surprise, but it is. Whenever I have faced a problem that I don’t truly want to encounter, one whose ramifications are just too poisonous to face head on, I have found myself taking longer and longer naps, sleeping longer and longer at night, dragging myself through the day’s activities. Yesterday, I was doing very little in the city, but it felt as if I was pulling a heavy cart behind me. And while I can tell people that my mind is clear, that the treatment for this outbreak of my chronic illness will be no worse or less successful than the last two times, clearly something in my unconscious mind is disagreeing!

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    The lesson for me – and for those of you who have yourselves encountered disease, or whose partners have done so – is that the truth is not always the truth. Yes, I believe with one part of me that I will do battle with whatever disease my doctors find and whatever treatment they choose for me to undergo. But another part of me is facing death and wondering if I will survive – this time. It’s important to know that both sides of me are there, and not to dismiss my spouse’s loving caution that I’m trying to do too much; that I have the right to sleep or disport myself – even to over-eat – and that I should expect life to be chaotic and dichotomous for the next few months.

    Of course, I should add, that I am also furious at my body.

    And I am furious with my doctors: what is taking so long? Why can’t they just decide what to do and do it?

    Friday I have a P.E.T. scan to uncover the progress and virility of the current cancer cells. Next week, I meet with my oncologist.

    Meanwhile, I read the newspaper in the sun, eat things that aren’t particularly good for me, and try to forget that I am depressed.


Published On: May 29, 2007