Friday, July 23, 2010

Colorectal Cancer Survivor in N. Carolina Needs a Doctor's Help. Any Suggestions? [From Connie]

Thank you for writing a book about chemo brain.  Since my treatment for stage 3 colorectal cancer, my mind has not returned to normal.  I was 33 when diagnosed... active, fertile, mother of three.  A month after starting Xeloda and radiation, complete menopause set in.  Until then I had managed quite well with the stress of my mother's cancer and death, and becoming my disabled father's primary caregiver, as well as my own diagnosis.  

Since then (2003), I have been a wreck.  My mind bounces from one thing to another.  The major depression that I had battled in college returned and I did not want to live.  I can't manage my house, children, or self.  My husband has been in and out of work throughout this time and our finances are not good.  I need to get a job but I don't have motivation, confidence or a lot of skills (been stay at home mom since I was 22).  I graduated 3rd in my high school class, entered college with a full academic scholarship and had plans to return when the kids were old enough.  Now I am 40 with hardly any work history and my attention span is like a preschooler's.  My husband seems so disappointed in me.  I let my friends down with my lack of follow through.  My 17 year old son is bitter about the whole thing.  He says I am just making excuses.  I have been diagnosed with ADD and just started ritalin.  Now in addition to HRT(est/prog/test), I take Effexor, Buproprion and Nexium.  My last endoscopy showed long streaks of ulcers in my stomach.

Now for the good news... my doctors at Duke were wonderful during treatment.  I am cancer free.  I had sphincter saving surgery so ostomy was reversed.  My depression has moderated though I still have suicidal thoughts from time to time. 

My frustration has been going to the gyn. for the hormones, the oncologists for rechecks, the GI dr. for scopies and ulcer, and the psychiatrist for the ADD/depression.  Our financial situation has kept me from just going to Duke for all of the above.  Every time we almost get caught up with their bill, I have another CT or scopy.  My husband doesn't think that the PSY has helped much or the medicines either.  He works hard to keep us afloat. Even with insurance, the co pays for meds and visits are more than we can afford on his $35,000 a year salary.

I want to see a doctor who can integrate everything and help me have better quality of life.  Do you know of one in central North Carolina?  I live <40 miles from both Duke and UNC.  Also, do you know of any grants, charities, research studies or programs that would pay for me to have the best treatment without worrying about the cost?  I will go anywhere that I could be helped.  Sometimes I want to apply for disability. I believe that I have something to offer to hurting people.  I have so many ideas of ways to help cancer and mental health patients.  When I am face to face with people, I can focus, listen, love them. I know that most jobs require a level of executive function.  I am not very productive here at home, so I am afraid it will be the same way in a job.

I am enjoying your book.  Thanks for the invitation to write to you.
 -- Connie, NC

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