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Anyone else plagued by anxiety and borderline hypochondria?

APny's picture
APny
Posts: 1946
Joined: Mar 2014

I try to follow Fox’s advice and think positively and try to remain upbeat and optimistic. But I just can’t help at times being consumed by anxiety so bad that I wake up with my heart pounding and nearly suffocating. Every single ache or pain or discomfort is filtered through the Big C word and I’m convinced that the occasional ache in my hip or rib is a bone met, that lightheadedness or tingling in my foot is mets in my spine or brain, that stomach ache is from it having spread to my pancreas or liver… good God, how do I stop the horror movies in my head. I manage to function fine for the most part then suddenly I become overwhelmed with frear and anxiety for the future.

Fox, and everyone, I need you to talk some reason into me, lol. My 1 ½ year follow ups are coming up next month and along with ovarian cysts, one in each, we’re following I’m already a nervous wreck with anticipation. Not to mention cysts in each kidney as well.

Sorry for the venting but I just don’t want to stress my husband or dump all this on him. He’s gone through so much with me and I want to remain positive for him but at the same time I need to talk about this. No one else seems to want to hear it and I usually get a “oh you’ll be fine. Stop worrying.” Well, that just doesn’t help, no matter how well meaning.

Thank you for listening and blessings and/or good karma to all.

Andi xo

Positive_Mental_Attitude's picture
Positive_Mental...
Posts: 454
Joined: Jul 2014

There is a fine line between vigilance and anxiety, which can lead to hypochondria.  I think it is natural to be anxious around the time leading up to scans and waiting for results. Fortunately, I have not been plagued with random pains since my awful back pain in January.  Worrying to the point of having a panic attack is unhealthy.  I have faith in the plan that the medical team has laid out, and I am encouraged that as a stage 1 partial nephrectomy patient with a 2.9 cm tumor, the odds are in my favor of no recurrence.  That does not mean that scary thoughts do not creep into my head every so often, but for the most part, I feel like I got lucky, and I am lucky to be getting scanned/watched going forward.  If something comes up as a result of a scan, it can and will be dealt with.

Footstomper's picture
Footstomper
Posts: 1238
Joined: Dec 2014

Stage 4, grade 4. I often find myself with sith some minor ailment thinking "Is this what its like to die?' and then I think"you silly sod.

I find I do better when I regard my symptoms individually. When havent I had an an aching back?.

I dont have any advice but I do have unexpected symptoms. My thyroid is upset leaving me with the hormonal balance of a post menopausal woman!

A bit of a surprise I can tell you!

tkmj914's picture
tkmj914
Posts: 43
Joined: Jul 2015

Footstomper,

I love reading your replies, you make me laugh! I am so new to this but my anxiety has calmed down a lot, I am trying to focus on the fact that it was caught early and I am one of the lucky ones thus far. I am hopeful that my prognosis is good as I have been told but it's amazing what our minds can come up with if left to run wild.

 

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 3183
Joined: Oct 2011

count your blessings first. Be thankful that you are alive and survived a nephrectomy. Second be thankful that you are being closely monitored by your cancer specialist team. And be thankful that they know a whole lot more about this than you, me, and the rest of us on this board. They also won't tell you about plan B until necessary, but they have it in place. Be it surgery, drugs or radiation. All by specialists. You have to accept that they have the options covered. If you can't be confident about that, then consider a cancer team that you can believe in.

As for having strange pains that let your imagination run amok, tumors do not "float" around. You don't get pain in a hip that turns into pain in the shoulder, that turns into pain in your stomach and so on. If you get hip pain from a tumor, it doesn't just stop hurting after a week or so, then turn into something else.

I have said this a hundred times. Always "spin" negative thoughts into positive ones. It is behavior modification and takes lots of practice. Don't say the weather is too cold. Say it has been warmer and will be again. And so on, and so on.  We learn this at a young age but forget how to do it. You learned as a child to always say please and thank you, to respect your elders, and so on. It always cracks me up when people are asked, "How are you?" and they answer "Not bad." I want to say, "I wish you felt worse, maybe you would be happier." Why not ALWAYS say, "I am Great!" ? Then it not only improves your mindset but now the other person recieves positive feedback. The result is that not only are 2 people better for it but it can become contagious. Talk about spreading Karma. So easy to do. It takes behavior modification but it is yours and for free if you want it. Just think about how many people you have avoided through the years due to their downer attitude.

Remember my post from last year. I was at a picnic and someone made the stupid remark, "Don't worry about cancer. Any of us could get hit by a bus and die tomorrow." At which time I asked how many times they thought about dieing from being hit by a bus during the last year. "Well, er, none." was the reply. That's when I told them that having cancer was like getting a song stuck in your head that you can't get rid of. So what I did next was to start whistling x-mas songs in the heat of a july picnic. After an hour or so I had almost everyone whistling or singing, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..." I got a happy song stuck in their heads and everyone was in a great mood. Karma.

It takes practice but whenever things are getting you down, take that negative energy and restate your feelings with the positive spin. Behavior modification at it's best. Remember ALL time spent worrying is Never recoverable. It's like blowing your money on something you don't need instead of paying the rent. Your choice.

I could go on for pages with stuff like this. I taught myself to do this at about 18. It works for me. The one single thing I hear more than anything else is "You've got such a good attitude." Shoot, If I'm going to die soon, I am not going to waste whats left of my life if there is nothing I can do about it. Hang in there Apny.

Positive_Mental_Attitude's picture
Positive_Mental...
Posts: 454
Joined: Jul 2014

Fox,

Have you read The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale?   I remember there was a copy of this book in my home when I was a child, and I remember casually reading it.  I just took a long plane trip an I read it through.  Everything you say reminds me of what Dr. Peale says in his book.  Maybe you could write The Power of Foxy Thinking?

tkmj914's picture
tkmj914
Posts: 43
Joined: Jul 2015

Andi,

wishing you the best news on your upcoming scans! I am a total hypochondriac so I can relate to that. My first scan comes at the end of October,I'm sure I will be a looney at that time. Best wishes to you.

Sheeple
Posts: 19
Joined: Jul 2015

I used to feel much the same way. But eventually I just really got tired of feeling that way. Now whenever I have an odd pain here or there the first thought I think is, that can't be cancer, not that could be cancer. One instance of pain is not sufficient for me now to worry over. I'm too stressed out over other things in my life to deal with the additional self imposed stressor of cancer thoughts. I even came to dislike my former self that was full of worry and deleted my original account on this forum because I don't want to be associated with that person any longer. The doc said he got it all out, and was confident I was free and clear to live worry free. It was a long process but I turned myself around to seeing things his way. That was probably easier for me to do knowing that I topped out at stage I. 

Allochka's picture
Allochka
Posts: 869
Joined: Nov 2014

I haven't had cancer (my partner did), but I had hypochondria, and still do to some extent. It started out of the blue 4 years ago after my first miscarriage.

I wish I could give a good advise how to cope with it. But I can't, there is no ultimate curative strategy. What helped me in the past - I simply got sick and tired of living like this. Believe me, having cancer in anamnesis is better than having severe hypochondria. I visited hypochondriacs board some time ago - oh my, this is a doom and gloom place! Here, on the board of cancer survivors, atmosphere is so positive and light, humor and interesting discussions are present. Hypochondria board  is the most dreadful and gloomy place... 

I ask you with all my heart to start fighting hypochondria tendencies right now, before it is too late. It could ruin life for good. You are a survivor, you are given gift of life again - do not waste it because of obsessive thoughts! Health anxiety and joy of life do not co-exist.

odds are in your favor, life is beautiful - try to stick to these thoughts! Now, when my partner's follow up scans are approaching, I simply forbid myself to think about them well in advance. When I start thinking of it - I switch to smth else, using all my willpower. I allow myself to think and worry only a week prior to scans or so...

sorry that I can't give a more valuable advise. But please just understand that you are given life again - do not loose your life because of health anxiety. This is not normal living, fight it and get your joy back!

 

 

mrou50
Posts: 389
Joined: Mar 2013

I too worry about aches and pains and when I have bad cough I think holy crap I am dying.  Than I just figure wait a second I woke up and I am breathing, so hey it cant be that bad.  It is hard not to worry sometimes though but with great support I seem to work my way through it.  Hang in there and appreciate every day and think happy thoughts, and when the bad thoughts come, go to your happy place, go to your happy place, go to your happy place......

marosa's picture
marosa
Posts: 332
Joined: Feb 2015

Apny, I was getting ready to post something very similar to what you wrote!  After having my partial and surviving serious surgery complications, time went by and I got my life back.  Xmas arrived, I partyed, I had fun, I was me again and feeling super.  Just that numbness all around the incission and belly, that was mainly what made me remember what I had gone thru, period.

Then as time went by and I started reading and learning more about kidney cancer, I started getting a little scared sometimes and even as I find this place so great and with so many amazing people in it... I also started freaking out a bit.  Fox said something the other day about newbees posibly getting a bit like this on ocasion with the rollercoaster rides and sad losses.  For me it has been so at times.

Thing is Im a hypochondriac and I had been doing so well in that aspect ever since I had to get up my courage to face the diagnosis and the surgery... and now I have a cold and have been having the worst fears letting my mind drive me crazy.  In my family we get cists and lumps in the scalp, they are benign, so now I have a few more of what I have had for decades and now I think at night oh could this be cancer related?  And so it goes!

I so happy to have had read the replies, specially from Fox.  One thing is being vigilant and following our medical advice and another thing is lossing one's mind! Im sick of worrying and scaring myself.  I have soooo much to be grateful about!  It's a beautiful Summer, I live 5 min away from the beach, Im a photographer and I'm riding a good wave on my art at the moment.  It's not that I don't enjoy life, I do, but deep inside I have been living scared.

  Apny let's wake up and smell the coffee!   Thank You Fox for your precious advice, you are so right!  Guys, sorry for my spanglish english,  Footstomper you the 1st. !

 

APny's picture
APny
Posts: 1946
Joined: Mar 2014

Thank you so much everyone; you’re all unbelievable sources of inspiration. I’m so grateful to have found this board where I can voice my fears and anxieties.

Every one of you is right. I do trust my team and I do have confidence in them. I just need to get a grip and a perspective. And yes, focus of the positives of which I fortunately have many.

Marosa,Mrou, tkmj914, you totally get me and I get you. I agree, Marosa; let’s enjoy the summer, the beach, and smell that coffee J

Footie, you’re hilarious. I want not just courage and strength but your sense of humor.

Allochka, Sheeple, Positive M, such great perspectives and I needed to read that. Thank you!

“It always cracks me up when people are asked, "How are you?" and they answer "Not bad." I want to say, "I wish you felt worse, maybe you would be happier."

LOL for saying that, Fox, I love you. You made me laugh out loud for real J And I do remember the bus anecdote and also the Christmas song switch. You’re so right, you’re always right, and I’ll have to keep remembering these pearls of wisdom when the darkness starts creeping in.

You guys all rock. Love you all xx

 

adman's picture
adman
Posts: 338
Joined: Jul 2012

 

Sorry, is this a trick question?  ;)

How about all of us :)

 

 

foroughsh's picture
foroughsh
Posts: 775
Joined: Oct 2014

Apny

I was exactly how you described in your post after hearing "C" word up to few months ago. My friends and family's reaction was/is the same. I ended up being worried and crying in the middle of nights, no matter how hard I tried to copy Fox, Djennie, footstomper,..... but few months ago I started making myself busy with things I love to do, now after few months I feel much better and stronger, Ihave my next follow up this weekend but still feel confident. So I suggest you do the same,it might help you as well. When you make yourself tired by walking, runnig, Yuga, exersices,.... You'll have better sleep at night and brighter morning in the next day. May you hear NED again and again.

Forough

 

 

 

APny's picture
APny
Posts: 1946
Joined: Mar 2014

Adman, that was funny J

Foroughsh, thank you for good wishes. And yes, good point about keeping busy. I’m a teacher so have a lot of time on my hands in the summer. Come fall I’m sure I’ll have less time to be so self-indulgent and focused on every ache and pain. I do use the treadmill every day and that does help. I used to do yoga so I really should go back to it. It’s very calming. It’s the nights when I wake up that are the worst. Or when I’m not feeling great and have some minor issues. Then wham! I immediately think METS and scare the $hit out of myself. I’m so glad you’re conquering your fears and anxieties.

Galrim's picture
Galrim
Posts: 305
Joined: Apr 2013

for the first 2 years after surgery.

Until I finally went to a therapist who gave me one simple tool: The fear will never go away completely, so greet it, face it, 5 minutes every day, and then tell it to bugger off because thats the time you will spend on it. Take control.

/G

Jojo61's picture
Jojo61
Posts: 1310
Joined: Oct 2013

Apny, your post has come at a very timely moment. I am currently undergoing some issues that I finally decided to go see the doctor about. But first, I found myself googling my symptoms - never a good idea! I have found that I am suffering from many diseases with these symptoms! LOL. 

My friend was telling me tonight that she has discovered that she loves eating beets. She said she has been eating them a lot. But nobody warned her that if you eat a lot of them, your body voids in a dark reddish color. LOL. She said she thought she was dying!! 

The trick, I think, is finding the fine line between deciding if it is important enough to go to the doctor or not. When I was first diagnosed, I told my doctor that he would be seeing me often at first as I would be coming in to see him for every ache and pain. And I did. And he was wonderful. Now, I am returning to normal in my doctor visits. But if symptoms are persistent, go see the doctor!

Foxy is always bang on with the attitude messages! (I, too, always hate the "could be hit by a bus" analogy). Many times, I have caught myself about to answer "not bad" to the question of how are you? and think of Foxy and say "great!" It is a struggle, sometimes, but we are allowed that. We have been through a lot!

So here's to continued good health! And remember - beet juice won't kill you! :)

Hugs

Jojo

 

APny's picture
APny
Posts: 1946
Joined: Mar 2014

Galrim, that’s great advice! I Love it. I suppose I’m still just a year and a half out and facing follow up scans and x-rays next month so I’m getting a little jittery.

Jojo, OMG, I do the same. Google the hell out of every symptom and end up convinced I have it, lol. I need to stop that and you’re so right; it’s a fine line between when to be concerned and when it’s nothing. That’s a funny story about the beet juice; something I’d do J

Thanks for good wishes and I’m hoping your recent issues have been resolved and it’s nothing to be worried about.

Hugs back, Andi

Allochka's picture
Allochka
Posts: 869
Joined: Nov 2014

Galrim's advise is great, will try to use it.

and about Dr.Google - first comandment for every hypochondriac (or borderline hypochondriac) - DO NOT GOOGLE !!!!! Until you start following this rule, there is no getting better :-)

Nana4life's picture
Nana4life
Posts: 78
Joined: May 2015

I just have to say to every one of you......Wow, you all are amazing and beautiful people. You all are what is right with our world!! Thank you!! 

 

anmazon
Posts: 144
Joined: Jun 2013

Good morning.  

I've been a wreck since my first diagnosis and radical nephrectomy in 2013, and it has only gotten worse since my second diagnosis and partial nephrectomy this summer (proof that I was right--it DID come back).

I've found a couple of things that work for me.  I found a great church with a loving and supportive congregation.  I've started yoga.  And I've been taking care of a friend's house--I've got half an acre of trees, fruit and roses that I tend to.   It is wonderful to see the beauty that exists because of my hard work. It is nice to just sit on the patio when I'm done and watch the quail, bunnies and roadrunners (and a wild turkey one day) and enjoy the serene surroundings. 

And I've got a prescription for Valium for the days that it's really bad.  Unfortunately, they do happen, and while I don't encourage better living through pharmaceuticals, I am thankful to have them there when I need them.

 

Anmazon

jason.2835
Posts: 337
Joined: Nov 2014

I am going through a bit of rough patch right now myself.  I keep telling myself that I am a Stage 1 patient, my tumor was less than 3 cm, they did a radical nephrectomy and I should shut up and count my blessings until the day I die at age 90.  

But it's impossible.  Today was the day I received my 1 year scans; not going to see the doctor about the results until Sept 18.  I won't lie and say that "I'm fine."  Every little thing that the ultrasound technician did and said; you're hanging on every word and every place they stop... It's a mental game we all play I am sure.  

I am just not sure why 6 months ago I barely gave it a second thought while this time I feel a more anxious about the entire thing.  But I don't think there is a survivor on this board that can say that they don't feel the way you describe.

- Jay 

APny's picture
APny
Posts: 1946
Joined: Mar 2014

 

Nana, I agree. This board is amazing and you’re one of the amazing people on it J

 

Anmazon, gardening is one of the best antidotes to anxiety. I’m so glad you have the opportunity to make your friends’ garden florish. As for valium, I think whatever helps during those “dark moments” is fine. I have Xanax and it does take the edge off things when my mind starts doing its own thing.

 

Jason, I read your other thread and 100 percent with you on that. As you can see by this thread I started I find it impossible to be optimistic and hopeful 24/7. And scanxiety is very real. I think one reason why the later ones (1 year and past that) are more anxiety producing is because of that 2 – 3 year span where they say most come back. So we’re hoping to get past that hurdle. No guarantees of course, sadly it can come back anytime, but still, at least for me it’s a hurdle to get through and then I think I'll breathe a little easier.

 

Jojo, I read about your scan for ovaries. I'm being monitored for that as well. One cyst on each. Oh joy! And every six months I get the "magic wand." Even more joy! Hoping all goes well with your scan and it turns out harmless.

 

Jojo61's picture
Jojo61
Posts: 1310
Joined: Oct 2013

Hi Andi

Thanks for your good wishes on my results. Hoping your issues clear up for you as well!!

Hugs

Jojo

APny's picture
APny
Posts: 1946
Joined: Mar 2014

Thanks Jojo! Hugs back xo

Andi

todd121's picture
todd121
Posts: 1425
Joined: Dec 2012

I'm trying to take all the good advice here and applying it where I can. Keeping really busy has helped me. My work has been nearly overwhelming and then when I'm not working I've been busy at home. It keeps my mind off it, and helps me fall asleep quickly at night. I've been saying prayers of gratitude as I fall asleep. I just start thinking of things I'm grateful for and keep going until I dose off. The other day I started with the letter A and worked through the alphabet. The next day I started with Z and worked backwards.

I do still worry, but I do a little and then decide to stop. There's a decision in there somewhere to keep at it. Can feel like there's no choice. Instead of saying "I can't stop worrying", I say to myself "I won't stop worrying". Just getting away from the victim self talk has been helping.

I have my scans next week. Can't believe 3 months have gone by. I'm wondering if the new nodes they saw in my lungs last time will turn out to be anything.Then there's the prospect of brand new stuff. In the past I've had scans in the morning and saw the doc in the afternoon and they already had my results. Now they're doing them a week in advance, so I won't know for a week (although they promised to contact me if there's something worrisome, but, you know, i'd just as soon wait a week).

Best to you all,

Todd

APny's picture
APny
Posts: 1946
Joined: Mar 2014

“I just start thinking of things I'm grateful for and keep going until I dose off. The other day I started with the letter A and worked through the alphabet. The next day I started with Z and worked backwards.”

I’m going to start doing that. Thanks, Todd! I also like the "I won't stop worrying" approach. Makes you feel in charge instead of helpless with "I can't stop".

 

And I'm wishing you all the very best on your upcoming scans. I hope there’s nothing new and that the lung nodules are you’re your average harmless nodules. Keeping my fingers crossed for you and keeping you in my thoughts.

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