Topic: Are my thoughts twisted in a bad way?

Forum: Mental Health: Because Cancer Doesn't Just Affect Your Breasts — Meet and support others who are affected by these issues around anxiety, depression & other emotional effects.

Posted on: May 21, 2021 09:58AM

Posted on: May 21, 2021 09:58AM

solarsister wrote:

Hi. I've been writing in a thread in "Not diagnosed with a recurrence but concerned" lately. Yes, I am very active on this forum right now because my anxiety level is horrible. Why I am here: I've had issues with my back and my seat lately, it started with me doing a deadlift at the gym for the first time in a year, it got better after a couple of weeks, then I did some lounges at home after getting better from COVID, and the pain/stiffness/irritated feeling is there again. It was bad for one week, but some symptoms linger, like morning stiffness and mild sciatica. This got me absolutely terrified, I called my MO that I haven't talked to in five years, and she thinks I should have an MRI "just to rule anything out and find out what it is". Sigh. My physiotherapist did a thorough exam and says the pain I have does not come from my spine, it's in my piriformis muscle. The MRI is in three weeks. I really don't know how to get through this. I think I might lose it and I'm so so scared.

So why do I think my thoughts are twisted? Well my husband said please try not to worry! You have to remember nothing points to mets (except that I had ER+ breast cancer 10 years ago). Your MO doesn't think it sounds like mets, your physiotherapist says it comes from an irritated piriformis and you did excercises that can lead to the exact discomfort you're experiencing. Your MO HAS to give you an xray given your history (I actually have osteoporosis too). You have no other symptoms right now.

But I can't rest in these thoughts. I think if I DO try to tell myself it's nothing and if I do NOT worry sick, this sinister beast that is cancer is going to come and stab me in the back and laugh at me for being so dumb. The cancer will outsmart me. I'm afraid to take nsaid because it takes away all of my symptoms, and that's a bad sign.

The thing is, I have a family history of breast cancer with very bad outcomes to that. So I had my first mammogram when I was 23 and told myself I would NEVER be negligent to any lumps, changes or anything suspicious. Whenever I did find something suspicious I had it checked out and I was always terrified. Except for the time i did get cancer. That time I was sure it was nothing when I went for the mammo, and for this stupidity I beat myself up for years and I had many many talks about guilt with my psychologist. I should have known. It was all my fault.

I now have three weeks during which I have to be able to function. I have to be a mom, my teenage kids will start their summer holiday and we will celebrate, I have to function at work as a manager for people with big and small problems that I have to solve. And when I think about everything that's NOT pointing to mets, I feel relief. But I can't, because if I do I'm a stupid dewy-eyed idiot for not preparing for the worst and even thinking for one minute it could be nothing.

Is there anyone out there who has the same way of thinking, or anyone who has a strategy for getting through the day (for three weeks) waiting for what might be a disaster?

Hormonal Therapy 10/3/2011 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone), Zoladex (goserelin) Dx 10/4/2011, IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/25/2011 Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left); Mastectomy (Right); Prophylactic mastectomy; Prophylactic mastectomy (Left); Reconstruction (Right) Chemotherapy 12/5/2011 AT
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May 21, 2021 11:10AM jetcat wrote:

I’ve been reading your posts with lots of sympathy because I am a worrier and am very capable of working myself into a frenzy. Since I know this about myself, I’m able to usually talk myself through these spells. Cognitive therapy works well for me as it forces me to be specific and logical. I had a chain of events recently that convinced me that I had cancer spread to my bones. First, a routine blood test showed slightly elevated calcium level—when I googled it I found bone cancer, Next my ribs started to ache on my right side to the point that sitting was uncomfortable. Then, routine mammogram required biopsy. Well, I thought, this is it! I actually decided I would do anything possible to outlive my little 8 year old dog (husband can take care of himself). Outcome~ calcium levels were elevated from the large amount of antacids I was taking for heartburn. As soon as I switched to a 24 hour acid reducer, the ache in my ribs went away. Biopsy came back benign. So I feel a teeny bit silly now but mostly relieved. My lesson to myself is that I took a bunch of unrelated circumstances and convinced myself of the worst. There’s a theory called Occam’s Razor that says the most obvious answer is most likely to be correct. In your case, an injured muscle. I wish you peace as I know how you are feeling. Take care

Hopeful Dx 2017, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER+/PR+ Dx 2019, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery Mastectomy Radiation Therapy Surgery Lumpectomy
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May 21, 2021 11:59AM - edited May 21, 2021 12:02PM by ctmbsikia

I was also reading your other thread. I'm no therapist but here goes. It is not your fault you got breast cancer! You are being too hard on yourself from past experience. You should let that go. Get rid of it, it's over. Don't dwell on the past on how you reacted or thought, and move forward. If you can't move forward, then it's best to just take it a day, an hour, or even a second at a time. Remember to breathe, deeply, and count the many blessings you do have. Worrying I get, but when I'm not worrying I think, why did I waste all that time? So, I get it. It's hard to control these thoughts and go spiraling into the nether world. Sal, in the other thread gave you some great advice in regards to acceptance therapy. I myself, will be looking that up. I let my twisted thoughts come to surface for about 30 seconds a day and then I put them away. Beesie in another topic said once you are diagnosed your health record is what it is (she said it much better though). None of us will ever be the same. I recently started on an anti-depressant not for cancer, but mourning the loss of my husband. There's another diagnosis, "Adjustment disorder. " I am going to work on my acceptance of being in state of worry, fear, loneliness, you name it, and living with it since I do wish to be among the living for a while longer.

I hope your are able to go do something fun to celebrate the end of school. I hope your MRI provides you with the answer, and there is no judgement here. Should it turn out to be nothing serious, we get it! Everyone here gets it. Wishing you better emotionally. Remember too, out of controls emotions can and do cause physical pain. I had never experienced it until recently. The medication took the physical symptoms away and it is work to keep the emotions under control. Best wishes for better days.

Dx 12/14/2017, DCIS/IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 1/16/2018, LCIS, Right Surgery 1/30/2018 Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph node removal Radiation Therapy 4/10/2018 Whole breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 6/25/2018 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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May 21, 2021 12:05PM solarsister wrote:

Thank you for responding Jetcat! I love LOVE all the stories about scares not being cancer. It makes it easier to cope for me too. I know I am very prone to worrying, sometimes I think it’s genetic because I was extremely worried as a kid for no apparent reason. One of my first memories of catastrophic thinking is from my childhood, when my parents had one of very few date nights. I was absolutely convinced they would die in a car accident and couldn’t sleep until they got home. This has been a theme my whole life. I took KBT and it helped for a while.

Thank you for the Occam’s Razor reference. I will take that with me into the evening

Hormonal Therapy 10/3/2011 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone), Zoladex (goserelin) Dx 10/4/2011, IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/25/2011 Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left); Mastectomy (Right); Prophylactic mastectomy; Prophylactic mastectomy (Left); Reconstruction (Right) Chemotherapy 12/5/2011 AT
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May 21, 2021 01:31PM farawaytoo wrote:

Hey SolarSister, you sound just like me! Health anxiety has been the bain of my existence for a looong time. I have a family history of melanoma, and had many atypical moles excised. I thought I was staying on top of my cancer risk, only to be blindsided by BC at the age of 40.

I very much understand your worry. I went through a similar scare and fear of bone mets when I had a very painful shoulder that lasted several months. My physiotherapist told me multiple times it was from the tight muscle. We did a lot of work to stretch the muscle and the pain was getting better. Except on those days when I would forget to do my stretches for several days, had a long day at work sitting with my neck in an unnatural position that exacerbated the issue. And yep, my calcium was slightly elevated too.

I brought this up with my MO, and she first wanted an MRI, then switched to CT, because the area that was painful was too big (from the neck/shoulder down to the lower end of shoulder blade). CT was clear. I continued with PT for another months and the issue was mostly gone. I still get the pain (not as bad as it was then) if I sleep wrong or work many hours without taking a break. It always gets better after a few days of consistent stretching and careful positioning at my work station.

My MOs take was this: "yes, it sounds like a muscle strain, but with your history and it being present for several month, we have to do imaging. Don't worry too much, most of my patients develop some sort of chronic issue as a result of age, treatments or a combination of both". I personally think my shoulder issue is connected to my reconstruction. I know it's hard not to fixate on it, but try to tell yourself that whether or not it is cancer related (and hopefully and most likely it's not!) you worrying about it will not change the outcome. Even though it seems "being on the lookout" and ready for the worst possible scenario is somehow going to prevent it, it won't.

Also, if NSAIDs take your symptoms away, why are you taking it as a bad sign? I think to the contrary, if your pain was from bone mets, NSAIDs would not be as effective as if it is from an injured muscle. With my shoulder I was taking ibuprofen most days and it helped, and I actually took as a good sign. Plus it would let me forget about it for a while and not worry as much. Perhaps, consider removing the pain, it will help with mental state too.

Dx 8/31/2017, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 9/15/2017, DCIS, Left, 3cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 9/29/2017 Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxol (paclitaxel) Hormonal Therapy 2/22/2018 Zoladex (goserelin) Surgery 2/27/2018 Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left); Mastectomy (Right) Surgery 2/28/2018 Reconstruction (Left): Tissue Expander; Reconstruction (Right): Tissue Expander Hormonal Therapy 4/4/2018 Femara (letrozole) Surgery 8/20/2018 Reconstruction (Left): Saline implant; Reconstruction (Right): Saline implant
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May 21, 2021 02:07PM solarsister wrote:

ctmbsikia: Thank you so much for your kind and wise words. You are so so right, dwelling over the past is just useless.

I am so sorry for the loss of your husband. I just want to give all of you a big hug.

I found some new stretches on YouTube today and wow, they made a huge difference! I’m going to continue them over the weekend. I’m so stiff on my left side/buttocks!
https://youtu.be/05hIp-yEIlQ

Please know you all have helped me a lot these last few days.

Hormonal Therapy 10/3/2011 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone), Zoladex (goserelin) Dx 10/4/2011, IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/25/2011 Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left); Mastectomy (Right); Prophylactic mastectomy; Prophylactic mastectomy (Left); Reconstruction (Right) Chemotherapy 12/5/2011 AT
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May 21, 2021 02:27PM - edited May 21, 2021 02:29PM by solarsister

FarAwayToo - I'm both sorry and a little glad I'm not alone having so much anxiety :) I know we all do at some point. It's also great to hear your MO's words, I get so paranoid and suspicios. In my weakest moments I can start to wonder, is she saying “I think it's a muscle strain" just to calm me down and in reality she thinks this is actually highly suspicious?

Five years ago I had a real bad shoulder ache too. And it did hurt at night and was very persistent. I ended up having a nuclear bone scan and it was apparently hard to read. The radiologist had to take a lot of new images and asked me a bunch of questions that just had me in full panic. My dads “girlfriend" gave me some of her Valium so I was able to get through the days before my MO called. No mets! I don't even remember how I got rid of that pain but I haven't had it since.

About the NSAID, I'm scared I am masking the pain i guess. So if I need to take pain killers it's a confirmation that I am in pain, and I don't want to be in pain because pain can be a sign of recurrence. I told you my thoughts are twisted :D

Hormonal Therapy 10/3/2011 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone), Zoladex (goserelin) Dx 10/4/2011, IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/25/2011 Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left); Mastectomy (Right); Prophylactic mastectomy; Prophylactic mastectomy (Left); Reconstruction (Right) Chemotherapy 12/5/2011 AT
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May 21, 2021 07:04PM 2019whatayear wrote:

I think you’re behaving very rationally . Your body let you down before so it’s hard to have faith. I find it helpful to remind myself thoughts are not facts. I think you are going through post traumatic stress right now -

FWIW it’s not at all likely your doctor is thinking it is highly suspicious and telling you the opposite.

5/6/2019 IDC 2cm, micromet 1/9 nodes, BRCA2+, ER+, PR+, HER- BMX 6/2019, A/C & Taxol 2019, Radiation, BSO - preventative 2/2020, Letrozole 3/1/2020, Started Lynparza for 1 year preventative on 7/18/2021

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