Anxiety due to Cancer

Posted by Bob, Alumni Mentor @grandpabob, Sep 30, 2019

I am sure there are very few of us diagnosed with cancer that do not, or have not suffered from some form of anxiety. Anxiety, for me started at the time of diagnosis, Large B Cell Lymphoma, the initial shock of that knowledge was the trigger. It is not that it occupied every minute of the day, with everything else that accompanies cancer treatment, there was more than enough happening to occupy the hours. I also recognized that the triggers changed as I moved along the path of cancer care and treatment. Anxiety also led to some wakefulness which led to fatigue, other common side effects.

Some of the triggers of anxiety for me were: How early do we need to leave the house to make it to the appointment on time. Will I have any side effects from this session? Are the sounds of the IV pumps during chemotherapy going to bother me today? (interestingly, those pumps made me very anxious almost all the time.)

To combat anxiety, I took the following actions to lessen this symptom of cancer: Exercise, when I had the energy I walked out of doors, outdoor distractions helped to focus my mind on what I was doing in the present. I meditated and used “apps” such as “Calm” to take my mind off the stresses. When I could, I took advantage of a counselor who coached me to discuss how I was feeling about things.

Are you undergoing any anxiety? What works for you to reduce your anxiety levels?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Cancer: Managing Symptoms Support Group.

@louise73

I started 3 years ago with pulsating tinnitus in both ears 24/7. I had anxiety and one panic attacks after another. I would walk the street in front of my house when ever they occurred which was usually at night. And yes, I thought about suicide. I was weak. I saw a psychiatrist and started on Klonopin. and Paxil. I could not handle it on my own, the noise was so loud. I will b praying for u. Keep posting

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Hi Louise. I also get anxiety due to pulsating tinnitus I have for 5 years I don't know if there was a medication after open heart surgery 6 years ago or what did it what else helps you

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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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sqdncnws @sqdncnws
Sorry your going thru a rough time and feel alone.
Depending on your locations and where you are receiving your treatment, there may be multiple options for support.

Mayo site has some advice on support groups and dealing with stress: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/support-groups/art-20044655

American Cancer Society has info on support groups https://reach.cancer.org/?_ga=2.58049706.1226844383.1599218342-390726876.1599218342

Also, check into getting a therapist for someone to talk to during this difficult time. Let your oncologist know your having a tough time and he/she may be able to recommend someone.

Wishing you the best
Laurie

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@sqdncnws

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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@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?

Merry

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@sqdncnws

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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@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.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/caregivers/
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.

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@sqdncnws

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

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@sqdncnws

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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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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Heavy Anxiety after being diagnosed with stage 3, surrounded by a great group of friends and relatives…BUT ,I don't want to be bothered. I would rather be left alone. I just
Finished season 8,4more 2go.

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@pcallier

Heavy Anxiety after being diagnosed with stage 3, surrounded by a great group of friends and relatives…BUT ,I don't want to be bothered. I would rather be left alone. I just
Finished season 8,4more 2go.

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@pcallier

In my experience it only makes sense that a person with cancer would feel anxious and depressed. It’s a very frightening diagnosis. How are you doing with the chemotherapy sessions? If you are having physical symptoms like fatigue, nausea then of course you feel very worried. I did not have chemotherapy. I had radiation therapy and about halfway through I became more anxious and depressed.

It feels natural for some of us to want to isolate when we feel anxious. Do you have family or friends that will keep you company without trying to get you to talk or cheer you up? I found that this helped me because their caring presence without words demonstrated how much they cared for me.

Have you shared the anxiety you are feeling with your oncologist?

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@pcallier

Heavy Anxiety after being diagnosed with stage 3, surrounded by a great group of friends and relatives…BUT ,I don't want to be bothered. I would rather be left alone. I just
Finished season 8,4more 2go.

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@pcallier, I moved your post about anxiety and cancer to this existing discussion that @grandpabob started here:
– Anxiety due to Cancer https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/anxiety-due-to-cancer/

I agree with @naturegirl5 that you might consider telling your oncologist about your anxiety. They can help. Do you have a history of dealing with anxiety or is this new for you with the diagnosis of cancer?

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