The "Down" Side of Cancer

benellendan Member Posts: 25
edited January 2017 in Health and wellbeing

I had a bad weekend last week.  I've been undergoing the process of partial invalidity retirement through work because of the fall out of my breast cancer diagnosis last year.  I ended up with a thyroid that doesn't work, high blood pressure that is hard to control, underwent sudden menopause, osteoporosis due the hormone treatment, and on top of all that - depression. 

I had post natal depression with my first son 18 years ago but back then no one recognised it for what it was.  It took me six months to get diagnosed and until then, I'd wander into a store and forget why I was there.  I'd be talking to a stranger at the bank and I'd start crying for no reason.  I would be driving in the car and forget where I was.  And then I wasn't sleeping either - so one day I locked myself in the bathroom and refused to come out.  My husband was beside himself and with our crying baby, called our GP who made a house call, gave me a sedative and I was shipped off to a hospital for mums and babies. I spent 2 weeks there and I came out a new person, feeling better, more confident and not so tired.  

When the 'blackness' descended again 18 years later, I knew what it was and took myself off to the doctor straight away.  It was different though this time.  I would get panic attacks (one happened while I was driving and someone cut me off - I was so distraught I had to pull over on the side of the road and it took me 30 minutes to calm down and keep going).  Another time I was walking along the balcony of a second story building outside.  I glimpsed over the side (I've never been scared of heights before this day) and felt I was going to throw up.  I plastered myself to the side of the building and quickly made my way down via some stairs.  

My GP referred me to the most wonderful psychiatrist in the Oncology clinic of our city's main hospital and she put me on Efexor straight away.  It took a few weeks but I started feeling better (and myself) again.  BUT this experience has coloured my medical assessment.  Instead of the assessing doctor taking my physical issues into consideration he has latched onto the depression and has told the superannuation fund that depression is no reason to make someone partially invalid.  

So this week I've been fighting.  Fighting to get people to understand that the medical condition came first and then the depression.  Fighting to try to  ensure my doctors evaluations aren't lost in the myriad of red tape that is the Commonwealth Government.  Fighting to try to understand why I have to fight so hard to get what should be something I'm entitled to (because I've paid for years and years into this super fund) because my health does not allow me to work full time anymore.  I have my treating doctors on my side (all of them amazingly enough), my family and my close friends.  But it's not enough.  I've fought the ultimate fight for my life - beating cancer but now I must continue to fight for my future financial security.  Seems so ridiculous to me really......



  • moira1
    moira1 Member Posts: 449
    edited March 2015

    oh dear, i know exactly how you are feeling, although when i finished my treatment, i was great, then 4 months later, fell in a heap, but lucky i recognised it, and my doc, gave me efexor, although i did try and dodge it, saying i was a strong person and would get through this, but he advised not to go down that road, so instead of crying, and grumpy i took the efexor, and was the best thing i done, although i had just been to the doctor 1 year later and asked to come off it, so we 1/2 the dose, but then the anurysm came along, so i have been advised to stay on it until after i get through this, i have never been bothered with depression before bc, and as you say for docs to evaulate you based on depression is wrong, when it really is part of the process of breast cancer, and at a time when you are down, you dont really need to be fighting for what is rightfully your's. hope the efexor starts to kick in soon, then you can start kicking some ass... and get your just dues.  GOOD LUCK XX

  • Cazz
    Cazz Member Posts: 51
    edited March 2015

    It is ridiculous and I would say that you are more than entitled to have a bad day with what you have been through! It is ridiculous that after fighting for your life you still have to fight to get what you are entitled to.

    I had a similar experience earlier this year. I was diagnosed in March 09 and didn't work at my full time position throughout treatment. I ended up taking leave with out pay and working on a casual basis when I could. In February this year I tried to go part-time. I was still having treatment and had more surgery to go. I had a meltdown after a month and knew I couldn't do it. In desperation I contacted my super fund to find out what I could do. As it turned out I was told I had income protection but no-one had bothered to tell me. When I applied for it the insurance company gave me hell trying to say that I'd had a pre-exisiting condition etc etc. It was awful and it only made me feel worse. I too have been diagnosed with depression and am on Effexor and have been left with other health issues as a result of treatment. But it is always the depression that they latch on to. .As you say it's hard enough dealing with the consequences of what you have been through without having to fight bureaucracy! I would have given up but my partner helped me fight them. We even threatened to got to the media. My partner gave them 24 hours to sort it out or we were going to go public. We had a phone call within 24hrs. I won in the end!!!!

    So don't give up!