When I was diagnosed two years ago with endometrial cancer, I felt my life closing in. Sometimes if I shut my eyes, I saw a black circle around me. The circle blocked out thoughts of everything but the cancer. My illness was all I could really focus on.
My stomach hit rock bottom as the medical professional spoke with me after my total hip replacement.
He said, “When you received total hip replacement surgery, they took 40 percent of that muscle. The result is that your left buttock will not ever be as strong as it was, nor as firm as your right cheek.”
“When you’re going through menopause, and you’re a seasoned woman, and you’ve been through three really serious relationships and the last one you thought would be forever, and to wake up alone, and… it’s hard. It really took me a long time to get over that depression. You know, I covered it up with super-volunteerism.” – Wanda for Graying of AIDS
Most women over 60 have faced their share of challenges. Some of us have lost a loved one. Others have survived a challenging relationship. Still others, like today’s guest on the Sixty and Me Show, Vickie Lynn, have faced a serious medical diagnosis.
In all of these cases, how we respond, physically, emotionally and spiritually can set the tone for the rest of our lives. We can choose to see each challenge as an end. Or, we can look for new beginnings. Vickie is a shining example of a woman who chose the second of these two paths.
Shortly after my then-85-year-old mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor, my brother and I accompanied her to meetings with several specialists. We were trying to determine what, if any, treatment would make the most sense for her.
A cancer diagnosis is profound. In just a few words, everything in your life is turned upside down. On an emotional level, you are suddenly forced to come to terms with your mortality. On a practical level, you have to make decisions about treatment options, food, drugs, how to tell your family and much more.
Your home probably wasn’t built with your aging body in mind. As a woman in her 60s or better, you understand: the lighting is inadequate, trip hazards are everywhere, shelving is either too high or too low and the bathroom has suddenly become an unsafe area.
It always amazes me to hear how many women in the community are hiding depression from those they love. After all, depression is something that impacts most of us at some point in our lives.
It is certainly not something to be ashamed of. It is simply our brain’s response to the internal and external pressures pushing on it.
Dealing with depression is complicated at any age. For starters, depression is not something that you can easily “will yourself out of.” It is caused by a complex combination of biological, social, financial and psychological factors.
In October 2014, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of sixty-nine. In a matter of hours, I was thrust headlong into a whirlwind of doctor appointments, consultations, biopsies, scans and x-rays. Through waves of gut-wrenching vulnerability, I felt my world closing in and choking the life right out of me.