- Question from Angela S: My sister's been living with metastatic breast cancer for three years. She says she's doing okay emotionally, and she's functioning okay. But wouldn't this situation make just about anyone depressed? I keep telling her she should get some counseling, but she refuses. Should I just drop it?
Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W.
I work with many women who have metastatic or advanced breast cancer who are not depressed. So while you and I may look at this situation and feel that it's understandable and appropriate to be depressed, many people are not. Is your sister able to enjoy life? Does she find pleasure in things that have traditionally been good for her? Breast cancer is often a chronic illness, and many women live a very long time with it while leading functional, productive, good lives.
While it's certainly quite difficult to have advanced disease and to be on and off treatment for years, it doesn't need to be the end of the world, and it doesn't have to come with depression. Advanced disease is an issue that is rarely addressed by organizations devoted to breast cancer patients. I believe that this is a mistake and a problem that needs to be addressed by the healthcare community.
On Wednesday, March 19, 2003, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Overcoming Depression. Rosalind Kleban, M.S.W., Diane S. Thompson, M.D., and Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. answered your questions about medication and lifestyle changes that can ease depression along with to put hope, fun, and pleasure back into your life during and after breast cancer treatment.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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