CANCER AND DEPRESSION Approximately five years ago I was diagnosed with pelvic cancer, Cancer is not just one disease it's several diseases. A tumor may be malignant or benign meaning that one is cancerous and the other non- cancerous. I was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in my right pelvis and being newly diagnosed, I felt out of control and over whelmed. As of today, the reason I developed cancer is not well understood. Even thought I'm a smoker, I don't believe that was the cause of it, my cancer was a type of bone cancer.

There are many none carcinogens which are materials that cause cancer but many are still undiscovered. Malignant tumors ('cancers') are capable of spreading to other parts of the body, whereas benign tumors cannot spread. Some benign tumors are called 'aggressive' because they can destroy nearby bones and soft-tissues yet do not spread to other body sites. Sarcomas are malignant tumors that arise from musculo skeletal system tissues such as bone, muscle or connective tissue and this was the type that became my enemy.

My reaction to my diagnosis was in shock and disbelieve. Fighting cancer is not a challenge you face a lone it involves friends family doctors and a good health care team. I went through several fasces: depression, anxiety, self-pity and anger. My main concern was my family, specially my kids. What if I die on the operating table, what's going to happen to them? Who is going to support them?

I had all these things going thru my mind, and many more. What I was going to go thru seemed unreal to me. I could have never imagined after being healthy all of my life and being able to walk and run without a hitch, that I might lose the use of one of my legs. Thinking of cancer every waking moment, I needed to resolve some issues I had in my life. I knew that after the surgery I was going to be incapacitated and incapable of doing all the things I normally did. My position at Artistic Concrete of Florida was head foreman and I was responsible of supervising ten construction groups that had a work force of approximately eighty men.

I would be up at 5: 00 AM, get in my explorer, and make my rounds thru the construction sites. I had to walk thru ditches; climb latter's inspect rooftops and run around like a chicken without a head. I loved my job even thou too many people don't see very interesting, but to me it was because people depended on me to get things done and done right. When I was struck with the bad news from the results of the biopsy, I started to ignore the fact that this was going to make a mayor impact on my way of living. Soon I started to realize that these fun things were coming to an end and that's when the start of my depression was settling in. I never really knew what people meant when they were depressed and needed to see a shrink until I became one of them.

I really did not get as bad as to go to see a Psychotherapists or a shrink, but I did become extremely emotional over ever little thing. The surgery was going to be a twelve hour operation. The surgeon Dr. Thomas Temple informed me that the procedure was a complicated one and only half a dozen patients in the nation have had it done with 100% success. The procedure consisted of having my right pelvis removed and replaced with a graph of a cadaver's pelvis.

After the surgery I was probably going to be in bed for approximately two weeks under pain medication such as morphine and. Soon after I had to go thru some intense physical therapy to get me back on my feet again and hopefully be able to have my life back. I had to be strolled on a wheelchair, carried, and sometimes even bathed by strangers or my mom. This was very embarrassing to me at the age of 40 having to depend on others for the simple things in life. During all this time I was feeling so insecure with my self that all I could think of is giving up the whole procedure and letting nature take its course. I was not ready for this mayor change in my life and even if it would work, I was probably not going to be able to do the same things I used to do before.

I had extreme negative thoughts about my future I was feeling inferior and inadequate. I blame myself for every bad experience I had in my life and that this was entirely my fault. I felt helpless and convinced that I would not be able to improve my life from then on. After the surgery everything was fine. I started physical therapy and that was a very painful experience.

I was taking daily and these pills made me feel a little down. The drugs initiated physical depression symptoms such as indigestion's constipation and muscular pains. I started losing my appetite and in turn lost a lot weight; I could not sleep and felt fatigue most of the time. As months went by things got a little better as I actually improved from being on a wheelchair, them crutches and on to a cane. I actually was able to get back to work and started school again. I never thought that I could come this far and then the unimaginable happened.

After one year of being able to walk with out the aid of anyone, just my trusty little cane, I started feeling some pain and noticed some discoloring were my incision was made. I scheduled an appointment with the surgeon and the diagnosis was Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aurous infection, a real nasty bug to kill and that could kill me. He place me on Vancomycine a very strong anti- biotic that had to be given thru an IV. I had to spend four hours daily getting anti-biotic pumped in my chest thru a catheter.

The doctor explained that if the Vancomycine did not stop the infection, I would have to go back under the knife again and get the graph removed, this meant crutches for the rest of my life. The anti-biotic is so strong that it could also damage some of my organs so I could not be on it for a long period of time. It was like a double edge sword When he told me this I went in to a mayor relapse of depression and I lost my desire to pursue my usual activities. I lost my initiative, my sex drive and I just wanted to be alone most of the time. It's very hard to imagine the effects that such an illness can have on a persons state of mind and how it can affect there well being by messing with there emotions. Anyone who knows me would tell you that I was the type of person that was always on the go, self reliant, independent and extremely active in every way, until I was struck with such a blow in my life.

A person who has to start depending on others for things that are routine to them will make them feel worthless and in turn become very angry, restless followed by all the symptoms of depression. I was so pissed off just because I did not know the reason why this happened to me. I had no answers or reasons why I was a victim of such an aggressive disease and to top it of with this killer infection that was just as bad as the cancer itself. I decided to put my life in prospective and take care of the situation at hand by leaving it up to the God and the doctor. I ended up being on the anti-biotic for six months with no positive results and it was back to the drawing board.

The doctors had to remove all the titanium, screws and bolts they had implanted in me. My depression got to the point that it was like a normal way of life to me. Im not sure if I have gotten over it or it just became part of me. I do know for sure that I fee great now and that I was wrong about not being able to do the things I use to. I have been able to accomplish more now than ever before even thou im stuck with these crutches that are like body guards for life. I experienced depression and it's not a good thing, Im just glad I had the love and support that my family gave to me.

In conclusion, I don't regret what happened to me because the way I see it now, is that something good came out of that bad time in my life. I feel more outgoing than before and I don't take things for granted. I was given a second chance in life and im certainly making use of it. I Just don't worry as much, and im certainly keeping a smile on my face. Luis CespedesJanuary 16, 2005 CANCER AND DEPRESSION Luis CespedesBarry University Psychology 281 January 16, 2005


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