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Scared everyday

nicmarie75
Posts: 54
Joined: Apr 2010

My mom was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma 9/98 at 41. She was given 4 months to live and had surgery (can't remember if they removed it completely or not) apparently at diagnosis she had lung mets (she didn't tell us this, we were 23 and 21) she also had to go to the hospital an hour away for Chemo treatments 3x a week. I quit my job and drove her and worked nights as a hostess at a restaurant nights and my sister took care of her while I was at work. Few days after Xmas she went to the ER and was admitted to the hospital after finding Mets on her brain (guess that explained why she would stare at me and not answer when I asked her a question and why she was so forgetful at work) She never left the hospital, she passed away the morning after her 42nd bday on 1.7.99. I live in fear everyday that I will get Cancer and die, and as I get older (36 now) I fear that I am close to the age she was when she died. Her father, my grandfather spent a year sick and died from Head/Neck Cancer, My ex MIL died last year after a 4 mo battle with Melanoma at 57 (just days after her bday) there are lots of other Cancer stories in my family tree of distant relatives. How do I get over this daily fear of not IF I get cancer, but WHEN?

lbinmsp's picture
lbinmsp
Posts: 266
Joined: Jun 2006

I am so sorry about the death of your mother. You and your sister were undoubtedly her personal angels and helped her through it all.

I wish I could give you a magic pill that would take away your fears. I can only offer some advice from someone who has lost two brothers to different cancers, aunts and uncles too, and I'm battling my own at this time.

In truth, your fear of cancer is taking your life faster than cancer would. I can't tell you what you should do - but I can tell you what I try to do every day. I try to live life one day at a time. I try to think about 'what is' - today - and not speculate about 'what might be'. Someone once told me that worry is paying interest on a loan you've never applied for. Whether you do or don't get cancer - no one knows. I've had it and I've got it again - and still, for me, living life one day at a time gives me the opportunity to do the best I can with what I have at this moment in time.

Sorry for getting all preachy - I pray that you remain healthy and I pray, too that you will find a way to take your life back.

nicmarie75
Posts: 54
Joined: Apr 2010

Thank you for your kind words, I try to focus on living each day and being a mother to my four children. It just gets hard sometimes....

ams123
Posts: 71
Joined: Aug 2011

I am very sorry about your mom, it is so sad and she was so young.

I totally understand the fear and anxiety you are having. I suffered from generalized anxiety disorder (I am not saying that you have this) from the time I was a little girl. It manifested itself, among other things, as extreme health anxiety. I was constantly fearful of developing a fatal disease, and it got to the point where my life was dysfunctional. People would tell me that I was wasting my life worrying about things that might not happen, and of course I knew that! I wasn't stupid, I just had a mental illness (I am not saying that you have this.)

Finally, when I was 40 years old, in desperation I went to see a mental health professional, and she was wonderful. We did individual and group therapy. I also saw a doctor and got a prescription for zoloft, which seemed to me like a miracle drug. It totally relieved my anxiety, however it had side effects that caused me to eventually stop taking it. But the anxiety has not come back the way it used to be, not even close.

I can also tell you that worrying about developing these diseases was 100 times worse than actually being told I have cancer. That might sound crazy, but the anxiety I created in my mind was awful, being told I had cancer was awful, but at least I could see a plan and a solution to that.

I am not saying that you need to see a mental health professional, but if your life is becoming dysfunctional, if you are ruminating many times a day, if you have checking behaviors (checking for pain, for lumps, etc) then you may want to consider the next step. This is very hard to overcome on your own, but much easier to do with a professional.

This is just my story, and I hope I haven't offended you.

Linda

nicmarie75
Posts: 54
Joined: Apr 2010

Linda ~ thank you for responding to my post, I actually have seen a therapist (though briefly) twice...once in 2002 a close coworker got word at work that her father passed (he had been battling Cancer) and shortly after that I had a pretty bad anxiety attack. That led to more anxiety attacks that turned into full blown Panic attacks. I ended up on Prozac for a year. I am once again back on meds for anxiety and they help, but everytime I have something happen I think "this may be a symptom of cancer" I am going to get genetic testing for the BRAC? BRCA? gene (my grandmother is a breast cancer survivor) but the cancer's are so random that I cant get my whole body scanned yearly can I? Lol
I hate feeling this way....and you definitely have not offended me!
Thanks Linda

Vagusto's picture
Vagusto
Posts: 86
Joined: Aug 2011

Hi
I certainly understand how you're feeling. My Grandfather passed from lung cancer. My father passed 5 years from kidney cancer. I was diagnosed with kidney cancer two years ago at age 46. Was having some gallbladder pain, ultrasound caught it on accident. I was told at that time my kids need to be tested as kidney cancer is hereditary. They have been tested and i will continue bugging them to have their annual ultrasound.

I am the queen of anxiety! I recently had something show up on an ultrasound on my remaining kidney. Boy did the anxiety kick in at that point. Will find out on Monday what the final results are. I have no advice as to how one continues living knowing that you have all this family cancer history. One thing I can tell you is live each day as if it were your last, because if down the road you're diagnosed with cancer, it takes a bit of your life away. I guess what I'm trying to say is try and find a way to convince yourself that for today I'm good....tomorrow maybe not but I will deal with it. Trust me.....I struggle a ton with this myself. I think it's a mind game you have to play with yourself.

I would make sure that your family doctor understands your family history. When I was diagnosed, my Urologist asked me if my family doctor was aware of the family history(yes) and he said that she should've been doing ultrasounds. Ask for one, it might give you peace of mind.

Take Care
Valerie

garym's picture
garym
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

nicmarie75,

Based on family history your fears are not surprising, expected would be closer to the truth. You asked how to get over the daily fear and I'll give you my 2 cents worth.

At this point it doesn't really matter whether you actually have cancer or not, you are suffering from it. One of my favorite movie lines comes from The Shawshank Redemption, "Its time to get busy living or get busy dying", my advice, stop waiting and worrying about if and when and go on the attack now, you have an opportunity most of us here did not get. Regardless of your current mental and physical condition there are steps you can take to improve how you feel about, and approach the future. Seek professional mental and medical health advice as needed and without embarrassment. Focus on a healthy immune system as the foundation of your attack. Stress is very hard on the immune system, proper diet and exercise counteract stress by firing up the body and brain's "feel good" systems. New daily routines can give your mind something else to think about. If you smoke, quit, it opens too many cracks in your defenses. You can face that wall of fear that surrounds you and tear it down brick by brick, never give up, never give in and never surrender. The transformation into a fierce and prepared warrior is possible.

I hope this was not too blunt, it was not my intent to offend, maybe its just the old football coach in me leaking out.

My best to you,

Gary

nicmarie75
Posts: 54
Joined: Apr 2010

I value your comments and thank you for them. I will try to be very proactive in my health, though I am overweight and need to get a handle on that. Years of growing up thin and eating unhealthy fast foods have taken their toll on my body. My mother smoked for years and thankfully it was a habit that I never picked up, hated the smell! Both my grandmothers are Cancer surviviors one Breast at about 50 had a Mastectomy and no other treatment and is now 80, the other was diagnosed with Early Lung Cancer and Radiation only and is now 76. So two good outcomes in my family, unfortunately much more bad outcomes.

Thank you!
Nichole

nicmarie75
Posts: 54
Joined: Apr 2010

Thanks Valerie for commenting, I am sending thoughts and prayers for a good outcome on Monday! I had heard the genetic thing for Kidney Cancer, maybe I should discuss ultrasounds with my Dr.

Thanks!
Nichole

Vagusto's picture
Vagusto
Posts: 86
Joined: Aug 2011

Nichole
I would recommend getting an ultrasound. It will give you some peace of mind. You may be a wreck prior to getting it, but it's better to be proactive than reactive.
Take Care
Valerie

nicmarie75
Posts: 54
Joined: Apr 2010

Hi Valerie,

Have been thinking of you, did you get your test results yesterday?

Nichole

Vagusto's picture
Vagusto
Posts: 86
Joined: Aug 2011

Hi Nichole

I did get the results, appears to be a cyst that hasn't grown. So, I go back in April
for a CT Scan, CXR, labs. It put my mind at rest. I don't think that I've really been living for the past two years, just worrying
myself sick. Gonna try and turn that around!!!!
Thanks for asking.
Valerie

In_Memory_of_Paul_Lacy's picture
In_Memory_of_Pa...
Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2011

Hi NicMarie75,

I am so sorry for what you and your sister had to go through. Watching someone die of a cancer is a perpetual nightmare! I lost my younger brother Paul seven weeks ago. Part of me was thankful that I was out of work and living in the same town as my brother during the year long nightmare. I was able to help him with rides to the oncologist's office, the radiation center, and the long drive to Boston when those appointments became mandatory. I am thankful that I was assigned to take all the notes during the doctor visits and most importantly to help him understand the doctor's updates. What I wasn't prepared for was hearing the terminal diagnosis! That was heart wrenching!

My brother had the number #1 sign of kidney cancer, blood in the urine. When he was 35, he had this symptom, made an appointment with his primary care physician and a follow-up appointment was scheduled with a local urologist. Now, fast forward five years, and my brother now has a Stage IV metastatic kidney cancer diagnosis! Paul was sent back to see this same urologist and I went with him to take notes and couldn't believe what I was hearing. The urologist reviewed all his notes from five years earlier. This doctor performed the basic tests and when those came back negative, the testing stopped. Paul continued to see rust colored urine and felt comfortable that it was nothing since that was what he was told by this urologist. I was shocked to say the least, knowing the family history of cancer in our family, that no other tests were performed, such as a CT Scan.

I share this story only because I feel you have the keys to preventing a serious cancer diagnosis. My brother had no idea that he had a say in his medical care. You have so much information about your family that may help save your life. I feel we patients have to really go in and demand certain tests and demand to see certain specialists if we feel a certain doctor isn't doing all that they should be doing.

Since my brother's diagnosis, I have had my own medical issues and I have pushed for two CT Scans, a colonoscopy and second opinions with doctors down in Boston when I feel it is needed. Now that I can add kidney cancer to my family history, I am also at a heightened risk of developing this form of cancer. I believe getting regular "check-ups" is critically important but speaking up for yourself is just as important. My brother believed the urologist when he told him there was nothing wrong with his kidney back in 2005. We all want to trust our doctors, but in my brother's case, having a family history of cancer and the fact that he was a heavy smoker, was reason for a second opinion. Other doctors should have been pursued and other tests should have been administered.

I think the fact that you worry about getting cancer just might save your life. We all have to live our life regardless of what will happen in the future. There is no sense hashing over what we can't predict but while we are alive and have a voice we can speak up and demand the best care.

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