• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 6s

The hidden scars of cancer: families struggle with post-traumatic stress

By Ivanhoe Newswire 5:39 PM January 23, 2014

The life-threatening diagnosis can leave families feeling fear and helplessness

WILMINGTON, Del.  (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Just like a soldier returning from battle may experience post-traumatic stress, so too can the loved ones of cancer patients. The life-threatening diagnosis can leave families living in intense fear, overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness, and avoiding people or places that trigger bad memories.

When 12-year-old Sammy Bradly began falling asleep at baseball practice, he knew something was wrong.

“I just wasn’t feeling the same. I didn’t feel like me,” Sammy told Ivanhoe.

He was diagnosed with AML leukemia.

“Honestly I pretty much fell to my knees and blacked out,” Annie Bradly, Sammy’s mom, told Ivanhoe.

He endured six months of chemo.

Sammy said, “I met a lot of people in the hospital and I was the only one to walk away alive,” including losing his best friend Noxah to cancer.

“He was the only person I knew that would understand how I felt,” Sammy said.

Four years now in remission, the experience has not been forgotten.

“I know that these guys don’t know, but there are days where I just start crying for no reason at all,” Annie explained.

Intense fear still plagues Sammy’s mom.

“What do I do? We’re okay, but are we okay?” Annie said.

Dr. Anne Kazak says these traumatic stress symptoms are more common in parents than people know.

“It might be bad dreams or nightmares. It might also just be that you’re walking down the street and all of the sudden you are back in that moment,” Anne Kazak, PhD, ABPP, Pediatric Psychologist, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, told Ivanhoe.

One study of 171 mothers and fathers of cancer patients found all but one had post-traumatic stress, closely related to PTSD; something Dr. Kazak says affects about one in three parents.

She says her best advice is to focus on what you can control.

“It’s almost never helpful to worry too much in advance,” Dr. Kazak said.

Also, Dr. Kazak recommends finding support.

“Reflect on the fact that you are in a war against cancer,” Dr. Kazak explained.

It is a fight Sammy’s family accepts.

“It’s just a huge part of who I am today,” Sammy said.

There are things that parents can do to help with traumatic stress symptoms. Relaxation techniques such as visualization, deep breathing, yoga, and meditation may be helpful. Both healthcare professionals and parents looking for information about medical trauma can log onto www.healthcaretoolbox.org.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Willow fire displaces Iditarod musher, dogs

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 19, 17:39

    An Iditarod musher, her husband and dogs were temporarily left out in the cold after a fire destroyed their Willow home Friday. Neither Jaimee nor Justin High were home when the blaze broke out, and the 24 sled dogs kept at the property were unharmed by the fire. For now, the couple is staying with […]

  • News

    Federal court puts gray wolf back on endangered species list

    by CBS/AP on Dec 19, 15:38

    A federal judge on Friday threw out an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list — a decision that will ban further wolf hunting and trapping in three states. The order affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The U.S. Fish and […]

  • News

    Bomb threat delays T-Bird Classic

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 19, 15:06

    East High School was briefly placed on lockdown — then evacuated — following a bomb threat Friday afternoon, according to the Anchorage School District. School was not in session Friday, but the T-Bird Classic basketball tournament drew dozens of high school athletes and spectators to the high school gym. Heidi Embley, a spokeswoman for the […]

  • Crime

    Man sentenced in 2013 DUI death

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 19, 12:24

    A 24-year-old man was sentenced to 18 years in prison Friday for killing a 20-year-old woman while driving drunk in 2013. While driving north on Boniface Parkway near DeBarr Road in June 2013, Lane Douglas Wyatt ran a red light and slammed into a car driven by Citari Townes-Sweatt. Townes-Sweatt, the driver, was killed in the collision. […]

  • Crime

    Noble Drilling reps plead guilty to 8 felony counts

    by Lauren Maxwell on Dec 19, 10:08

    Representatives from Noble Drilling U.S. LLC, which operated a drill ship in the Arctic, pleaded guilty to eight felony counts in Anchorage federal court Friday morning. As part of a plea agreement with the federal government, the company admitted breaking both environmental and maritime laws when it worked as a contractor for Shell while drilling for oil […]

  • DayBreak

    Sound, light sculpture a tribute to Anchorage’s past and future

    by Hope Miller, Megan Mazurek on Dec 19, 9:56

    A group of local artists is lighting up the darkest days of winter. More than a year in the making, The Light Brigade’s large-scale sound and light sculpture in downtown’s popular Elderberry Park is near completion. The piece, called “Follow the Light,” includes more than 50,000 LED lights and roughly 850 individually lit fiber optic […]

  • Lifestyle

    FBI: North Korean government behind Sony Pictures hack

    by Jake Miller / CBS News on Dec 19, 9:46

    The FBI formally blamed North Korea for the recent cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in a statement released Friday, saying the bureau “now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions.” The FBI said it based its conclusion, in part, on similarities between “the infrastructure used in this […]

  • News

    Walker considers delay in legal marijuana sales

    by Associated Press on Dec 19, 9:30

    Alaska Gov. Bill Walker says he’s considering a 90-day delay in implementing legal marijuana sales. Alaska voters in November approved legalizing recreational use of marijuana. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1xtQicb) reports Walker told the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce he’s exploring a delay in the part of the measure that allows for commercial sales. The ballot […]