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Fighting against fear

Laralyn's picture
Posts: 528
Joined: Apr 2012

I can go hours now without thinking about the cancer. I can't go a whole day yet, but I can make it most of a day. And when I do think about it, it's usually just as a part of my life, as something that happened to me like so many other good or bad periods of my life.

Except when I hear about the recurrance of cancer after treatment, which wrecks me. Last night was one of those times. I found myself crying and searching the internet for statistics on HPV positive recurrance. Here's what I told myself--out loud--to finally snap myself out of it. I'll probably have to do it again tonight. I feel like I should write it down and post it on the wall somewhere and make myself look at it whenever I start to feel that fear and despair. I wanted to share it here in case it helps someone else. 


The survival or recurrance statistics don't mean anything because I have no way of knowing where I fall in them until it either happens to me, or doesn't happen. The odds of the cancer coming back could be 10% or 90% but I have no way of knowing which side of that stat I'm on, so the actual stat doesn't really matter.

Worrying about recurrance doesn't help--it paralyzes me. It stops me from doing the things I should be doing: the things that help me heal. On the other hand, there are things I can do that have a TANGIBLE AND REAL effect on my health and happiness. Am I taking supplements, exercising, drinking coffee, checking my mouth, and getting check-ups on schedule? Have I done the things I should do today that make me feel like my time was well spent with no regrets, like spend time with friends and family, or work on my art project? 

If the cancer does come back, would I say, "Wow, I should have spent more time worrying about the cancer coming back?" I don't think so. I believe I would say, "Wow, I wish I had focused more of my time on life instead of worrying about that f-ing cancer."

D Lewis's picture
D Lewis
Posts: 1576
Joined: Jan 2010

Don't let your imagination run away with you; it will take you to a very dark place. I started paying attention to those times when I have the darkest thoughts, and it's usually when I am tired. So I crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head...

"Focus on life!" What a wonderful New Years resolution!


CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4301
Joined: May 2012

Hi Laralyn,


You have answered your own question.  You feel better when you don’t dwell on cancer and worse when you do.  The hard part is following your own advice.  I know it is terrible to get a negative thought swirling around in our heads and I don’t know the best way to get rid of them or more realistically keep them in perspective.  I read and reread many of the posts put on the H&N forum, trying desperately at times to understand and gain knowledge about this beast. My path in life has crossed with yours and others here, for a brief moment.  How we move on from here is dictated by results, resolve and our inner being.


I hope you can get a handle on cancer, good or bad.


Best I can do,



phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4672
Joined: Mar 2012

that I need to make "not worrying" my New Year's resolution....LOL.  Yeah, right!  It really hit me, tho when you said you can't get thru a whole day without thinking of cancer....me either.  It's not like I think about it all day, or anything....but there is no such thing as it not entering my mind at sometime during the day.  Like Deb said, tho....(and I was just thinking about this also, this weekend)....when I'm tired I get the darkest thinking going....and when I work 6 graveyards in a row, I get very tired....therefore every other week tends to be a worry week. 

I'm going to learn tho, to run those thoughts off...it'll take concious effort, tho I know.  That's my plan for the new year Laughing.


Kent Cass
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov 2009

Laralyn-  you are relatively recent in getting tx done, and I remember well the anxious times of my first two post-tx scans. Thing is- come what may. Yes, do eat healthy and whatever else the Dr's advise, and if worrying helps you to do those things, then I guess that's okay.  I used to think about it, and what if, but long ago came to the conclusion that all it means is I'll just have to do what I'll have to do with the Med team, and that's that. I kinda simplified it to just being- if a scan comes back as a problem, then I'll get my local team's plan, then go to the nearest large C center for their expertise. That's the only thing in play, until you learn otherwise. Nothing else. Your C has gotten into the ring with you and those C&R  gloves you got on, and gotten knocked out. Or, maybe your one boot has a R on it, and the other boot has a C- and ol' C got the crap kicked out of it- probably kicked right out of the ring! You are clean until you learn otherwise, so appreciate the day and live life.


Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2196
Joined: Nov 2009

Here's hoping we all can focus more on US and less on "it".

josh r.
Posts: 251
Joined: Oct 2010

Hi Laralyn,

Thanks for your post as it reminds me of all that any of us really have, today. When I try to get beyond that or back in the past I get lost, so thank you for putting me back in the now. Happy today Laralyn. josh r.

Posts: 660
Joined: Mar 2012

when dealing with this disease, its so Stealthy, it seems to sneek up on you and by the time its dx we are just a little dazed, kind of this happens to others but not me.  Well now when it becomes us its real and it is scary.  On this site we have all levels of Peace, Confidence, Trust and Faith, but all that said its very rare when I come to this post and someone dealing with the disease has not let there guard down and just was not sure what to do or think and in fact down right Pieved off.  We have all shared such a day or week or year this beast has effected us. But you are right and its something I personally have to work on very hard and thats to keep it one day at a time and know Im in control of nothing.  Yes i can eat right, exercise etc but you get my point on control..  If its cancer that takes me then that will be on my Death Certificate, if something else so be it.  But to wrap up I to will try harder on enjoying today and try to stop letting cancer when the battle of the mind so that if the day comes before I take my last breath I to would like to have said I did better in the 4th qtr than the 1st. 

luv4lacrosse's picture
Posts: 1410
Joined: Jul 2010

I am one of those who fall into the re currance bucket. I enjoyed 22 months of NED. There is no easy answer to keep from worrying about it coming back. You have to figure out what works for you, and then just do it. Today was a bad day for me, was watching something on TV this morning, and POW, a flashback. I started to think about will I still be here to witness my younget son graduate from college in 2 1/2 years?? will I get to be around to guide my other son through a battle with drug addiction?? will my wife be a widow at 50??

Who knows, and I still struggle with the what if's. I am in the best place one can be with the hand that was dealt to me, 12 weeks into my clinical trial, all tumors are no longer visible on CT. Even with that great news, I still have good and very bad days. It is hard to live in the moment, or to live day by day, but I need to try to get better at it.



blackswampboy's picture
Posts: 341
Joined: Jul 2012
thanks for posting your thoughts.
fear is useful, and not something that we can try to paper over and deny. but we can observe it, understand it, and let it go.
mindfulness has been described as being alertly aware of the moment, and not become lost in worry/imaginings/regrets/anticipation...
you may know the practice by another name, but you have touched upon a big part of it: staying intent on what we are doing. not so much the big important stuff, but keeping full attention while doing mundane things like stretching a neck muscle, washing a dish, or drawing a breath.
of course the mind's nature is to wander away into wild imagination and daydreaming. distractions are everywhere, so we have to continually remind ourselves and practice.
as a wise man wrote:
"The strength of mindfulness assists this process in two ways. (1) It reminds us of the danger of giving in to fear. (2) It teaches us to focus our attention, not on the object of our fear, but on the fear in and of itself as a mental event, something we can watch from the outside rather jumping in and going along for a ride."
best wishes.
cureitall66's picture
Posts: 911
Joined: Aug 2012


Your fear is much understood with what you have just gone through. Let me also share that prior to us finding out that my loved one had cancer at age 51, he had a heart attack a few years back, and then a triple bypass 2 years later.. all under the age of 50. We used to live with fear of another heart attack or what if another blockage comes...somehow, we just learned to live with it. We learned a different lifestyle of eating, and exercising and wouldn't let it hold us back even though we feared it. Now we are dealing with the cancer...and I know it is a little bit different...but not much....either can surprise us and take more from us. My point is that regardless if we are dealing with cancer or any other health issue, we never know what tomorrow brings us. NO ONE is promised of tomorrow.....We must live for today regardless of what our situation. That is how God intended us to live....one day at a time. So we must learn to do this. It will always be a process. I have talked to many long term survivors outside this forum that have told me that it's not necessarily going to leave your mind completely, but it does ease up....the more scans you get through the easier it will feel. Those years will add up and you will be amazed at how far you have come. 

Have you thought about getting involved with a Relay For Life Event?.....you will meet so many survivors and may then not feel so alone. You will make friends with people that "know" what you are feeling. I've been a team captain for ACS Relay For Life for the last two yrs (never knew I would have a loved one so close touched when I joined. Joined do to a loss of a friend/classmate) and find it a very helpful tool for survivors and us caregivers. Just a thought.

I love your "note to self"....EXCELLENT and very positive thinking! You are on your way to moving forward....take one day at a time and keep yourself busy.

God Bless,


hwt's picture
Posts: 2330
Joined: Jun 2012

Thanks for making me think....maybe I shouldn't worry so much, just in case these are "the good old days". If something happens there will be time to worry then. Lots of posts for concern and worry over the last couple of days, nice to know I'm not alone. Keeping that smile throughout the holidays has been a challenge. Wishes for all things good in 2013!

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