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cancer and depression HELP!!!!


I turn to my fello T-men for this do to the fact (that for the most part), the individuals that dwell in this room not only share a love for training but we also strive to educate ourselves on most any study that has any remote bit of effect on our bodies and they way they act/react/and function, and it is this type of dedication that I respect the most. And what seperates us from the pack. Well that, and are sometimes childish wit and humor that gets mixed in . But that just keeps us sane.

In the hopes for any helpfull suggestions I will begin.. My mother was diagnosed with cancer two months ago. She had lung cancer and a melianoma on her arm. They fast tracked the surgeries and she ended up having to lose a whole lung and a pretty big chunk out of her forearm. I was there to lend a hand during that and for two weeks after. I hadnt lived with them in 8 years but was able to spend those two weeks with her befor I moved away from the area for grad studies. From the minute she could eat after the operation I was forcing good foods down her face and lots of protein. Her doctors were amazed by the rate she was healing. Said she was breaking all the records. She was at home four days after having the lung taken out.

Here is what I need help with. Now I talk with her on the phone and all the sudden she will just start balling. Said it happens all the time for no reason at all. Doc's said it is depression from the surgery and should pass in 6 - 12 months and gave her some anti depressants. She tried taking them but said they effected her to much she couldnt function right.

She is also having trouble sleeping.

So she had asked me if I had any suggestions on things she might take to help. This is where I will ask for a hand. I suggested 5-HTP. After reading that it had been shown to help with depression in some studies.

That is about all I could give her for advice last night on such a short notice. Besides as much encouragement and such as a son can give from 14 hours away.

Any help on this would be great!!


The only thing I can think of is also looking at food choices: One book is "Potatoes not Prozac" which is about food choices affecting your moods. Carbs raise beta endorphins which can lead to depression when not elevated.

It was written by a therapist who used this on her patients. The basic idea behind the book is to eliminate high GI carbs. I think following Berardi's Massive Eating part II principles will achieve the same thing.

The book says a lot more of course and gives reasons why for everything.


Man, most things I can think of right now, Phill, don't have anything to do with nutritional wisdom, but I'm sure you can count on that later in this thread.

She definitely needs to get outside herself and look at the world around her. Encourage her, and maybe a family member or friend living close by to prod her if she needs it, to get out into the sunshine for short walks. Fresh air and bright light do wonders for depression.

Also, if you don't know, find out what kind of music motivates her, or relaxes and soothes her, then buy the CD's and send them to her. Encourage her to listen to them.

Good, entertaining and uplifting books are another option.

Paying a visit to a local hospital or hospice to visit children who themselves are in dire straits, yet always seem to keep their spirits up and maintain a positive outlook have helped lots of people look at their own predicament in a new light.

Good luck, give her lots of support, and God bless.


Hi Phill,

I have heard that fish oil helps with depression.
Recommended dosage seems to be 5-9g (of epa and dha combined, not the fish oil itself).
Try Googling for more info.



Phill, I want to share one of my resources with you. It's the single greatest nutritional/alternative/complementary site and organization I know of. www.lef.org, the Life Extension Foundation, is a non-profit organization. They track promising therapies off-shore (in Europe), that which is still in clinical trial, traditional and non-traditional healing modalities. Please check it out. They also have an 800 number with extremely competent advisors who can help you and your mom work through some of the issues that are bound to arise.

Second, melatonin is indicated and very strongly cancer protective. It is prescirbed at VERY high doses to breast cancer patients (in the range of 40mg per day, more than 10 times what most people take for sleep).

5-HTP may work. If it does, you'll see a difference in about three days. However, I would do some research on the type of cancer she has and whether it is complementary or contraindicated. With her situation, every supplement needs to be run that filter.

Can't really help with the depression. That could be part of the grieving process or a brain chemistry thing, and its outside the area of my expertise. Not outside the area of my empathy, sympathy or compassion, but I'm just not strong enough in the area of depression, especially when it's something this serious.

Take a long hard look at whey protein. It's great for healing post surgery and also for wasting diseases.

I am so sorry to hear about what you and your mom are going through. I wish you all the best. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.


Thanks all I will check it all out. My mom is a very inspiring woman to me. She is the type of woman that wont let this beat her. From time to time though she needs a little encouragement and help. and she has / was and always will be there for me if she can so I have to do the same.
She is constantly pushing her self and has actually returned to work part time even though the doc said most people take around a year off. She just refuses to let things get her down to long.


You're a good man Phil.


Hi Phil,

There is a lot of new research indicating that physical activity and resistance training is very beneficial for cancer patients. We all know about Lance Armstrong right? He like many other cancer patients was told to roll over and die because he had cancer. But, instead he trained harder and longer and has not seen any negative affects from his disease. Try to encourage your mother to join you in a walk outside or try some resistance training in the gym. The shear effect of activity will help her also combat depression.

She can also try looking into L-tryptophan treatment. It is often prescribed by doctors to help treat insomnia and depression. It is a more natural alternative to conventional antidepressants which tend to be very addictive.


My mom has leukemia/lymphoma. She started taking an antidepressant last year and it seems to help her.

My dad had his bladder removed last year because of bladder cancer and had a very tough time recovering. He got an infection that was hard to knock down and ended up back in the hospital 3 times. My mom kept telling me that she thought he needed an antidepressant because he was so depressed over his condition, crying, etc. He was afraid he was going to die (though he really was never in much danger and the surgery cured his cancer). My argument was that it was situational and that once he finally got better, he would feel better emotionally, too. That did turn out to be the case.

All I can suggest is that if you feel your mom really needs an antidepressant, there are certainly different ones to try. They have different side effects and sometimes it takes a while to find the right one. On the other hand, if you think that she'll work through it on her own, just be as supportive as you can and watch her closely for changes.

Best wishes you and your family. Cancer sucks.


I knew I could count on some help on this topic here. Thanks again for all the info.


I am a cancer survior so far. I have lymphoma t-cell hodgkin's diesase. I have been doing great w/ the chemo and all. I even work-out. My best advise is to keep mom active. Get her to get involved with a lot of diffrent things so that she doesn't fall into the trap of think that she has cancer.

I keep my mind off it by going to work, exercising, and this forum helps me a lot.

Also, is she working-out at all? If you want you can pm me more on how to start her out on a training program. Qigong, is actually awesome for cancer patients.

In Health,
Silas C.


I remember reading that guys who have open heart surgey can develop bitch tits as a result of the trauma of surgery screwing up their hormones. Something similar might have happened with your mum after major surgey like that. Maybe she could get her endocrine profile checked, with a view to starting HRT.