← Return to Anxiety due to Cancer

Bob, Volunteer Mentor (@grandpabob)

Anxiety due to Cancer

Cancer: Managing Symptoms | Last Active: Sep 5, 2020 | Replies (27)

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From the moment I heard the word cancer I went into anxiety. I could only see the people I knew that had cancer and had passed away after much long suffering and pain. I was so afraid of chemo and all of it's side effects. I did not want my hair to fall out, I did not want to be sick and have no quality of life and then die anyway. The thoughts of chemo was and still is so horrifying to me. I have become obsessed with that part of cancer it is embedded in my mind as the worst thing that can happen to a body. After I had my surgery the dr immediately wanted me to sign up for chemo but I just could not do that. I wanted a second opinion before I would even think about it. I got my second opinion and he convinced me my cancer was only stage one and 6 treatments would be all I would take. I said ok and yesterday was my first treatment. There was a little problem with the first bag that made my mouth,tongue and throat swell up. The chemo was stopped, I was given a dose of steriods and it stopped the swelling and after that it all went ok. I am waiting on the side effects to kick in so I will know just what to expect. I am told it takes 2 to 3 days for that to happen so I am stressing out over that. Every day, hour by hour is making my anxiety kick in and because of that I am not able to eat and have not been drinking the liquids I need. It's getting close to my bedtime and I am anxious about lying down because I know that is all I will be thinking about. It's as tho my husband doesn't really care about what is happening with me and it makes me feel so lonely. I found out his way of coping with my cancer is acting like it isn't happening. He does take care of me and makes sure I have what I need.However I still feel like I am alone in this and don't know where to find a good support group to attend.

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Replies to "From the moment I heard the word cancer I went into anxiety. I could only see..."

@sqdncnws– Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You don't mention what type of cancer you have or when you were diagnosed. I'm a mentor for the Lung Cancer Groups and Lung Diseases for Mayo Connect. When I found out that I had cancer, even if I was not completely surprised as a long time smoker, it felt like the earth just opened up and tried to swallow me. I had one panic attack after another and went around dry-heaving my way to my pre-surgery appointments.

Any cancer is life-changing and because there isn't any guide book, it's very frightening, to say the least. My first thought when I could think again was, of course, that I was going to die. But not all cancers lead to death and there have been so many advances in treatments that it's a different cancer world. My first cancer was in 1997 and I'm still here after almost 23 years. Although I have still do have lung cancer my cancer is being managed as a chronic illness and not terminal illness.

When I checked-in for my first chemo appointment my blood pressure was way high and I swore that everyone could hear my heartbeat. I almost had my head shaved but my hairdresser suggested that I find out if the chemicals that I would receive caused baldness. I found out that they might not, so I didn't have it shaved. My hair thinned but I was not close to being bald.

Chemo is a double-edged sword but it's a damn great thing that we have it. It's wonderful that you have an excellent immune system, it will help your body to heal and work along with the chemicals. Are you having chemo or immunotherapy? Drinking a ton of water will help get rid of the chemicals. You really do need water to do this and to help lessen the side effects and keep you hydrated, otherwise, you will feel worse. You will also need to keep up your strength by eating as well as you can. If you allow your anxiety to rule you will find that your body won't be able to help you as much as it can.

I suggest that you sit down with your husband and explain exactly how you feel. Be kind and gentle so that he can better help you. He has to know how his actions make you feel. You can help guide him on how to best help and support you. It's his first time with cancer with you, I assume. He also is probably scared to death.

Having cancer takes away your power over your body. You have to let people whom you have never met touch you, stick needles in and otherwise reduce your choices of what needs to be done. Research everything that you can about your illness. Education is power and the more that you know that better off you will be. It will help you keep a sense of control over your life. You will be a better patient because your appointments will be less about fear and more about treating you. It will also help lessen your fears and stop your imagination from running wild and clouding your mind. The more control that you feel will also help lessen the drain the toll it takes on your body. You need every bit of energy to stay healthy throughout your treatments.

As long as you feel well, walking will help you keep up your strength. Try not to stop your life. I did and it was a big mistake. If your husband can shop then have him do that so that you can stay away from crowds as much as you can. COVID-19 is still out there so be more vigilant with your own protection.

What are you doing more carefully now to protect yourself? How are you feeling?


@sqdncnws – I concur that anxiety and stress quickly follow after a diagnosis of cancer.

I see a few folks have already connected with you and have offered some of their experiences.
I was extremely fortunate that I had great support system when I was undergoing my various treatments.

I see that the support of your husband at this time does not seem to fit with your hopes and expectations.
As a husband, we can sometimes not truly understand what is needed for support from us at times. Merry makes a great point to have a discussion on expectations with your husband.

I want to bring to your attention the "Caregivers" group on Mayo Clinic Connect, a link is copied below.
Perhaps this is something that you could jointly investigate, that will hopefully find helpful.

Continue to reach out at anytime, as there are many members on connect that can hopefully provide you with peace of mind from sharing their experiences, or just listen.

@sqdncnws– How are you feeling today after reading some of these posts?

I can totally relate to your story! I have the same problems. I told myself, and anyone that asked, I was great, I was not sick from the Chemo. I in fact, had already been sick that morning. I stayed positive,I drank everything I needed too and still ended up in ER room with dehydration. I also ended up needing 2 large bags of blood, New Years Eve, at the Mayo. I wish I could be there with you.
I was told by my husband to “get back” it was the 1st month the corona Virus was found here in Minnesota. I really needed a hug, a shoulder to cry on. Nope not with him, he was staying so far away. I wish I could tell you how to get thru this journey…… I want you to know, it is now 10 months since I heard the words, large tumor in your lung …… it does not get easier, trying to figure the husband out, but I have found some love on these sites❣️❣️❣️ Thank goodness they have this.❤️

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