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Supporting a loved one with post-cancer depression

Hi there, I'm looking for some guidance as to supporting a loved one who has developed symptoms of depression after surviving breast cancer. She has actually experienced breast cancer twice, as well as losing a close friend to metastatic breast cancer, all before the age of 50.

Since completing chemotherapy the last time, she has really struggled. She's lost all self-confidence, lives in fear of it returning, and feels isolated and angry. When she's feeling really low, she asks "why me?" and feels as though she's being punished for something. I just wish she could be happy, but don't know what to do. I can't say anything that helps because I haven't lived in her shoes.

Anytime we mention support groups, therapy or medication to help with her struggles, she becomes very defensive and feels even more isolated. I just don't know what to do. Perhaps if there was anyone who has shared a similar experience would have some insight? If so, I'd really appreciate it.


  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 3,621
    Dear @lottie123

    The incidence of depression with cancer (any cancer) is significant, for excellent reasons - it strikes at the heart of one’s sense of mortality, recovering is no guarantee of not getting it again and treatment is at best unpleasant with the possibility of long term side effects. Your loved one has had cancer return, is scared of dying but can’t trust living and probably feels that no one really understands.  I didn’t get depressed but for a short time got a bit confused about who I was likely to be by the end of treatment. I didn’t have any reservations about seeing a counsellor which worked really well for me and a good counsellor would possibly help her immensely, but there’s obviously resistance. Is there anyone she trusts who could advise (such as a long term GP) not only about treatment but about who to see? Or you may consult a professional yourself as to the best way to handle this dilemma? I felt positive about seeing a counsellor because the oncology nurse who recommended her had a pretty astute understanding of me and it was an excellent ‘match’. The counselling had very little to do with cancer and a lot to do with why my ‘normal’ was as frenetic as it was! Cancer can stir up old, possibly unresolved, issues which can compound confusion or even depression. Best wishes. 
  • ddonddon Member Posts: 346
    Nadine, what you just wrote is wonderful and it has helped me in my own mind and situation. Thank you for putting that all into words. 
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