Cancer and Depression: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) blog series announcement

Later this year, in May, I’ll pass through a milestone of 7 years since my cancer diagnosis, treatment, eventual remission and the fight that followed. That fight is still being waged today against a body that never fully recovered. As a result of chemotherapy and the various related maladies that befell me. I now suffer from chronic fatigue, major depression disorder (MDD), pernicious anemia, decreased nutrient absorption (even more so than bariatric surgery causes), Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, not to mention relationship and career issues, etc.

I started to reconsider having typed all that information especially given my intention to post this as a blog series. My initial thoughts of privacy are overshadowed by a desire to ensure that knowledge of the aftershocks of cancer treatment are known. There have been many advances in treatment options in the last 7 years – I’d hope, right? One of the biggest developments I’ve noticed is that realization by the overall medical community and the general public that cancer and the aftereffects doesn’t end with remission or a clean scan.

The reality is that for many cancer survivors some of the impacts on your life can feel almost as bad as the treatment and the diagnosis. We suffer silently because after a while your doctors tell you that these after cancer symptoms are just “your new normal” and there’s nothing they can do besides prescribe anti-depressants and additional medications that potentially leave you feeling worse.

I’ve grown tired of this repetitive silence and cyclic attempt to feel better. I’m trying something new this week. I’ve been doing some research into TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation).

The results seem promising but as with many treatment options, the depth of knowledge isn’t there. The article I linked to even notes: “Though the biology of why TMS works isn’t completely understood, the stimulation appears to impact how the brain is working, which in turn seems to ease depression symptoms and improve mood.”

I’m not advocating for this treatment currently. I do not yet know if it will have positive effects. I begin treatment on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, and I wanted to start this blog series as an effort to catalog any changes that may occur as a result. To that end, I’m defining the following parameters for the 36 posts to measure perceived changes and document how I’m feeling.

Each entry will include (at minimum):

  • Sleep: How’d I sleep? How many hours? Quality?
  • Appetite: How’d I feel about eating? What did I eat?
  • Physical Activity: What did I feel capable of doing? What did I ultimately do? How did I feel after?
  • Motivation: How much proactive motivation did I have? What motivated me? What were my goals? Did I hit them?
  • Baseline Mood: What am I feeling as a baseline.
  • Happenings: What’s happened today that may impact my baseline?
  • Reactions: What were my reactions to the happenings?
  • Learnings: What did I learn, observe, etc?

I hope this post series will feel helpful to anyone considering the TMS treatment option and look forward to the opportunity to connect with anyone who may have thoughts or questions about the experience. I’d also love to hear from survivors who have had success with other treatments and methods.

Best of luck to us all