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Topic: Stress & Fear/recurrences

Forum: Alternative Medicine —

This forum is a safe, judgement-free place to discuss Alternative medicine. Alternative medicine refers to treatments that are used INSTEAD of standard, evidence-based treatment. does NOT recommend or endorse alternative medicine.

Posted on: Dec 10, 2011 09:50PM

Hindsfeet wrote:

A new study led by Prof. Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu, from Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychology, has shown scientifically that psychological and physiological stress prior to, during and after surgery has a biological impact that impairs immune system functioning. This impairment bears down on disease progression, he says, especially at the critical point during oncological surgery when a primary tumor is being removed.

The results are expected to influence cancer intervention programs in the future.

Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 10, 2011 09:51PM Hindsfeet wrote:

The surprising part of Prof. Ben-Eliyahu's studies is that stress hormones such as adrenaline, which are released before and during surgery, "underlie much of the devastating effects of surgery MORE OF THE SAME ARTICLE:

on immune competence," says Prof. Ben-Eliyahu.

Until now, doctors assumed that the immune system was weakened due to tissue damage and the body's responses to it. A weak immune system is one of the major factors that promotes cancer metastases after an operation, explains Prof. Ben-Eliyahu.

"Timing is everything after cancer surgery," says Prof. Ben-Eliyahu. "There is a short window of opportunity, about a week after surgery, when the immune system needs to be functioning maximally in order kill the tiny remaining bits of tumor tissue that are scattered around the body."

Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 10, 2011 09:53PM Hindsfeet wrote:

This is worrisome to me as I'm soooo stressed about the upcoming blmx. Good Word for me!

Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 10, 2011 10:52PM - edited Dec 10, 2011 10:57PM by Racy

evebarry, the article you linked is quite old and does not contain details of the study referred to, as far as I could see. It also mentions upcoming trials. Have these occurred?

Notwithstanding, I understand your stress and fears about your upcoming surgery. I too would be very upset and stressed in your situation. Do you have support from a counsellor or psychologist? If not, you may benefit from some sessions, starting before your surgery.

I have been seeing a therapist for the past year since my cancer and it has helped me greatly to deal with everything that comes with cancer.

Wishing you peace with your decisions.

Dx 2010, ILC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/22 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 11, 2011 03:29AM - edited Dec 11, 2011 03:31AM by Hindsfeet

Racy, I don't feel I need a psychologist to talk to about the stress we feel in deciding and having to get a blmx. I am sure that most women getting a mastectomy feels similiar stress before going under the knife. The idea of losing my breast is depressing. I feel that acknowledging those emotions are normal and healthy. I dread the day I have to say goodbye to my natural breast. The whole idea of having them removed and  putting in implants is UN NAT URAL. I do not like the idea of being under general anesthesia for 4 hours. But, I've accepted that due to cancer I have no other choice. I also accept that there is a grief process we go through in losing a part of our body.

With that said, I'm sure there are those who are glad to exchange their breast for highschool quality breast :) ...but for those who like what they already's hard.

After reading this article I am reminded how important it is to destress before surgery, and to get rid of stresses because it does harm our immune system. That's all.

Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 11, 2011 06:00AM mom3band1g wrote:

eve- very interesting.  Before my bc diagnosis I had not felt right for at least a year.  My GP was trying to adress my hormone imbalance and she felt my adrenals were shot and had me taking a supplement called "adrenal support".  I started to feel much better (and then the damn lump appeared).  I know I should have gone back on the supplements after treatment was over and yet havne't been able to bring myself to do it.  Felt futile.  I felt like you do about the mastectomy.  Very UN NAT URAL.  I loved my real breasts and felt very frustrated that my friends and family didn't seem to think I needed to mourn that loss.  I kept it all in and that took a toll.  I was so angry but the angry was just under the surface.  A few months ago I decided to give myself permission to talk about it instead of keeping it all in.  It's helping as I feel the anger starting to go.  I have a new lump though and I worry.  Have I stressed myself into a recurrence?  Statistics are on my side for it only being scar tissue.  This article is making me rethink my resistance to going back on the Adrenal Support.

I feel your sadness and I do 'get it'.  I feel like the odd duck very often here because so many women seem thrilled with their new boobs.  I hate fake.

lumpectomy 2/10/10 bi-lat mx 3/25/10 rads completed 7/10! Dx 1/19/2010, DCIS, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER+/PR+
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Dec 11, 2011 12:46PM Hindsfeet wrote:

mom3band...thanks you! You don't feel a lone when you aren't the only one feeling this way. I woke up this morning and I have the urge to jump ship...not do the surgery on Dec 27th. I' don't want to wake up after surgery and say to myself, what have I done? Why not just get a simple mastectomy from the previous bs I saw, and wait until it heals and go do the fat grafting? At least the fat would be natural tissue. The idea of waking up without a breast is terrifying but the idea of an implant is also terrifying. I'm scheduled for a surgery on the 27th. I fear if I said anything about this everyone would think me nuts.

Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 11, 2011 12:49PM - edited Dec 11, 2011 12:52PM by kira1234

evebarry, my prayers are with you that you will find peace with your decision. Last year when I found the cancer I was so thankful my BS was a strong believer. His staff prayed over me before he began surgery that day, as well as the day I found out it was cancer!

Dx 6/2010, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/8/2010 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 8/3/2010 Hormonal Therapy 10/5/2010 Aromasin (exemestane) Dx 2/2017, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Dec 11, 2011 04:27PM althea wrote:

Eve, here's a link to some breathing exercises that will help with stress.

Three exercises are listed.  The second one in particular should be of benefit.

I just listened to an ipod lecture from Dr Weil.   One point he mentioned that was new to me is one of the differences between the two phases of breathing.  We all know that breathing consists of inhaling and exhaling.  What I didn't know is inhaling is involuntary, but exhaling is voluntary (to a degree of course).  So, to increase our lung capacity:  exhale, pause, exhale some more, pause, exhale some more.  This we can do voluntarily.  This will have influence over our involuntary inhaling process.  People who are angry, stressed,or upset have shallow, noisy breathing that is irregular.  Breathing which is quiet, deep, and regular is calming.  Hope this helps.

Listen with a questioning ear. quote from George Ohsawa, founder of macrobiotics Dx 12/22/2004, ILC, 5cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 11, 2011 09:16PM - edited Dec 11, 2011 09:33PM by Hindsfeet

Ladies, I'm not panic about all this. My breathing is steady and I'm ok. I usually don't have a problems with decision making. I have talked myself out of a mastectomy the last few dx's. It's not all that uncommon to dread such major surgery. I don't like the idea of implants. I don't like the idea of losing my natural breast. It is healthy that I feel this way. It is healthy that I am able to talk about these fears. I brought all this up because I read the above posted article and know that before the surgery I need to feel comfortable and at peace about losing my breast.

Kaara, how sweet, your doc's prayed with you. Beautiful! I too have a lot of prayer support and I'm confident that whatever happens I will be ok.

I do feel that our mental state does affect our immune system and healing to our body. The three lumpectomies I had before, I went to the surgery as if I was having a bad tooth pulled. I was positive, except the last time when I learned the day of surgery the sentinal nodes were being removed. We don't often think going into surgery fearful could affect us negatively.

Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 12, 2011 05:25AM mom3band1g wrote:

EVe, I wish we could have a cup of coffee together before your surgery.  We could yell, cry and just get it all out!  Have you heard of myofascial release massage therapy (MFR)?  I did one session before surgery and it was AMAZING.  I should have done more but couldn't affortd it.  I think this could really help you find some peace before your surgery.  I heard about it through a friend who is an MFR therapist and it is pretty amazing stuff.  She lives in PA but if you are interested you could pm me and I can ask her for a rec near you.

I think I've told you before.....when it was my surgery time I vividly remember laying on the OR table with tears streaming down my face and my bs just holding my hand.  That memory is so strong in my mind and can still bring me to tears.  I could not find peace before and still struggle to find it.  You are wise to work on it now.  I agree too, that it's healthy for you to get these thoughts and fears out.  You can't deal with them if you can't even say them.

lumpectomy 2/10/10 bi-lat mx 3/25/10 rads completed 7/10! Dx 1/19/2010, DCIS, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER+/PR+
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Dec 12, 2011 10:59AM Annabella58 wrote:

I just want to jump in here, in any way, only trying to help.

I felt the same before my mtxmy...however, having had bc before in 2001, and a lumpectomy and rads, I had no other option to go with.

I knew I did not want to wake up "flat", so chose immediate recon.

What I want to let you know is that there is an "adoption" phase of getting to accep the new breast.  What helped me a great deal was to look at it as "restuffing the couch cushion"...same old couch, new stuffing.

Is humor a defense mechanism?  Absolutely.  Can this help to get all of this into perspective?  Yes and yes, again. 

I know the absolutely last thing you feel like doing is finding anything whatsoever funny here.  But if you can manage to see the slightest bit of humor in this, it helps so much.

I now feel (four years out) as tho I have a "challenged" (no feeling, can't communicate) breast.  I feel proprietarily fond of her.  She's been thru it all with me.  You are not "losing" a breast, she will still be there,but her stuffing, just like a treasured teddy bear, has been changed now.

If you can be patient and gentle with yourself, understand that this is a normal, natural part of the process and let yourself feel any way you need to about it at any time, it will be easier.

Just want you to know that with time, you will no longer feel that way about your implants.  It seems as tho the body itself, whether cell memory or psychological, undergoes its own "acceptance" process as well.

Good luck, all will be well. 

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Dec 12, 2011 01:15PM Hindsfeet wrote:

Thanks. I spent last night researching fat grafting vs implants. Afterwards I felt that the mastectomy is the right choice for me...just not as sure about losing both breast. I learned that the fat grafting is a longer process that requres a lot of patience. I woke up this morning with peace. The hospital called this morning for a pre-interviewed and one of the last questions she asked was how I was feeling. I said, scared (peace but scared). She said if I didn't then I would be in denial. Although this morning I have peace doesn't mean I am happy about the process or that I don't feel grieved that I have to do this. I wish there was a easier way that didn't cost a arm and a leg.

I like the anology of the teddy bear with different stuffing. I'll keep that visual picture as I go through the adoption stage.

mom3band, I've never heard of MFR. I like that you are so open about your fears. I do think talking about it helps.

Along with all this...although the article I posted is old doesn't change the fact that any kind of stress weakens the immune system and our healing. My ps gave me a list of healing herbs and amino acids to take before surgery. I can do all the herbs, but if I'm stressing about all I have to do around the house, projects or work then I've perhaps put my body at said in the article.

So...before surgery, after surgery and to ensure our healing, cancer prevention perhaps a big part is to live a stress free life. Easier said than done, but I'm motivated to look closer at my life to see what I can do to eliminate stress.  

Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 12, 2011 06:17PM MariannaLaFrance wrote:

Hi Mom3boy1g! Long time no see!

I have done some Myofascial release for my plantar fascitis, but never an all-out MFR massage. I bet it would alleviate a lot of pressure and stress, just based on the premise of that type of massage. I will have to investigate and try to schedule one for stress relief in the near future.

And evebarry- yes, I do the same as you. We cannot ever eliminate all stress, but I have attempted to cut out any unecessary stress in my life. When I can opt for an "easier" route, I do it. I cut a lot out of our hectic family schedule. I try not to overbook myself or the kids. Hard to do, but really eliminates the pain of stress. 

Dx 1/26/2010, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 12, 2011 07:31PM - edited Dec 12, 2011 07:32PM by althea

Eve, I'm not sure what fat grafting is, unless it's a different name for the surgery I had.  I opted for a diep flap reconstruction.  I know things are in a constant state of changing, especially in surgery, but for what it's worth, my reconstruction was on the same day as my mx.  I had to travel to get that procedure.  At the time I was more scared of surgery than anything else.  After the fact, my surgery was the best medical experience of my life.  The success rate at the hands of an experienced surgeon is 99%.  I'm just bringing this up because it sounds like you might have the impression that immediate reconstruction using your own tissue isn't an option?  My apologies in advance if I've misunderstood.  I'm not sure why there would have to be a gap between your mx and reconstruction.

Listen with a questioning ear. quote from George Ohsawa, founder of macrobiotics Dx 12/22/2004, ILC, 5cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 12, 2011 11:58PM Hindsfeet wrote:

Aletha, fat grafting is not diep flap surgery. The above link may help explain it better than I can. There are very few surgeons who do full breast fat grafting. There is a place in Florida that is supposely the best place to have it done. You can find more on this in the reconstruction threads. I also learned that it's not an overnight procedure. It takes time and patience. You have to grow the mound and have series of fat grafting. I live in the N.W. so going to Florida right now is not an option. Although a lot of plastic surgeons are doing the fat grafting for lumpectomies and using it along with the implants.

Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 13, 2011 12:30AM Hindsfeet wrote:

  • How does stress affect people who have cancer?

    Studies have indicated that stress can affect tumor growth and spread, but the precise biological mechanisms underlying these effects are not well understood. Scientists have suggested that the effects of stress on the immune system may in turn affect the growth of some tumors (7). However, recent research using animal models indicates that the body's release of stress hormones can affect cancer cell functions directly (8).

    A review of studies that evaluated psychological factors and outcome in cancer patients suggests an association between certain psychological factors, such as feeling helpless or suppressing negative emotions, and the growth or spread of cancer, although this relationship was not consistently seen in all studies (3). In general, stronger relationships have been found between psychological factors and cancer growth and spread than between psychological factors and cancer development (6).


  • Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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    Dec 13, 2011 05:30AM mom3band1g wrote:

    eve- this just scares the you-know-what out of me.  I was so very high-stress after finding I needed a mast and the summer I did rads.  My son was having a very hard time and my own needs/healing had to be shelved for almost a year as we helped him.  I have never been so stressed in my life.  I have my mri today and I am scared. Hard to make yourself think rationally sometimes!  I'll update when I know something. 

    Marianne - Hello!  Good to 'see' you again!  Sounds like you are doing great.

    lumpectomy 2/10/10 bi-lat mx 3/25/10 rads completed 7/10! Dx 1/19/2010, DCIS, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER+/PR+
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    Dec 15, 2011 08:18PM - edited Dec 15, 2011 08:19PM by sandilee

    How does someone facing a mastectomy after just having learned they have breast cancer NOT feel stressed?

    Dx 11/2007, IDC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 1/10/2008 Aromasin (exemestane) Dx 6/2011, IDC, mets Radiation Therapy 6/30/2011 Bone Hormonal Therapy 7/15/2011 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Hormonal Therapy 4/10/2015 Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy 4/20/2015 Ibrance (palbociclib) Chemotherapy 8/4/2015 Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy 3/11/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Chemotherapy 10/13/2016 Doxil (doxorubicin) Chemotherapy 4/4/2018 Navelbine (vinorelbine) Hormonal Therapy 6/6/2018 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Targeted Therapy 6/6/2018 Verzenio Chemotherapy 4/23/2019 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Gemzar (gemcitabine)
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    Dec 15, 2011 08:31PM mom3band1g wrote:

    well if the stress of waiting for my mri results don't give me a recurrence than I think nothing will.  I don't think I've ever felt so stressed.  The mri tech told me it could be 5-10 days.  Gah.  My teeth will be ground down into little bits by then.

    lumpectomy 2/10/10 bi-lat mx 3/25/10 rads completed 7/10! Dx 1/19/2010, DCIS, 6cm+, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER+/PR+
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    Dec 15, 2011 10:32PM - edited Dec 15, 2011 10:36PM by Hindsfeet

    I know...waiting is hard. Sometimes, I'm glad I don't know the results right now fearing it could be something I don't like, and at other times you just want to know. I cancelled my brain scan this week. I don't need anything else to wait on...or dread.  I'm already waiting on the PET scan results.

     Instead if stressing right now, I'm going shopping, and just letting myself get caught up in the season.  I'm not going to let this cancer thing steal joy out of my life. I got the tree up, and I'm singing Christmas carol's.  I don't want this month to be a blur of cancer thoughts, decisions and etc. I can deal with it after blmx on Dec.27th. For now, let's ignore it all and destress ... at least until after ChristmasWink Plus...this will put me in a better state of mind for my surgery.

    Oh well, it's worked for a couple of days..It can be a rollarcoaster ride...huh?

    Ways to destress..for me is shopping, watching Hallmark, writing my novel, massages, and quiet times. How do you get rid of stress?

    Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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    Dec 17, 2011 10:26PM Kaara wrote:

    I felt I was stressed quite a bit between my dx and surgery, but I also was following a very strict anti cancer diet and taking supplements to build up my immune system.  I wanted to be in optimal condition for surgery and any treatment that I might have to have after that.  When my doctor saw me the next day, he was impressed at how well I looked.  My wound is healing very well and I am recovering quickly.  We've booked a 7 day cruise in which we will totally relax and de stress from this entire process, with no outside disruptions.  I'm soooo looking forward to it.

    I don't think we can ever keep stress completely out of our life, but we have to be prepared to deal with it in a positive way.  Reading, movies, travel, massage, meditating, tai chi, qigong...all these things work to de stress the body. 

    Kaara Dx 11/14/2011, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-

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