Topic: Anxiety

Forum: Not Diagnosed But Worried — For those who are experiencing symptoms or received concerning test results, but haven't been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Posted on: May 25, 2017 03:31PM

Posted on: May 25, 2017 03:31PM

MTwoman wrote:

Hi, I've been NED for 14 years and have been a therapist for 17 years, so I have a lot of varied experience dealing with anxiety. Anxiety is just awful and can not only be debilitating, but can keep us from being able to take in and process information just when we need to be at our best. Too little stress can leave us bored, but too much stress/anxiety can leave us with panic, unusual amounts of anger and/or the inability to "perform" at our best. In the "not diagnosed but worried" category, anxiety can mean that we aren't able to hear our medical providers when they give us good news, or we aren't able to rationally discern what information is good and credible scientific evidence and what information is unscientific and only inflames our anxiety. It may impair our ability to listen, remember, read and comprehend our personal risks, our treatment options and our ability to calm ourselves, even if we have been found to have no evidence of disease.

Image result for anxiety curve

So how do you know if you are too anxious? Look at the stress curve above. Do you feel fatigued or exhausted? Are you sleeping well? Can you turn your mind to something else when you need to focus on another task? Or is your anxiety all you can think about. Are you eating properly? Or have you lost your appetite. Are you able to engage in activities that reduce your feeling of anxiety/stress? If you are able to concentrate on something else for periods of time, and utilize good coping skills to reduce your feelings of stress, then you'd fall in the optimal performance stage. If your normal patterns of sleep, energy and appetite have been disrupted, then you would fall in the distress stage.

I am going to suggest some strategies for each category, and am hoping that others will chime in with what works for them. What I'd like to see is a thread where anyone who is new to the experience of breast cancer or other breast health issues, has a place to refer to for concrete suggestions for managing their anxiety. There is no judgment here, as we've all experienced anxiety (to some extent) in our own journeys.

Stress occurs when perceived pressure on a person is greater than their ability to sustain resilience. The following skills can be used to improve and maintain your resilience:

  1. Practice distraction: deep clean something; do a home project that you've been wanting to do but haven't gotten around to; binge watch netflix; if you like to cook or bake, make a complicated recipe that takes your full concentration.
  2. Exercise: studies have shown that at little as 20 minutes of walking can bring down your stress response and walking in nature has a more robust response
  3. Regular relaxation: listen to a relaxation cd or use an app, try guided imagery, practice counting your breathe, practice yoga, try mindfulness or meditation, take a hot shower or bath, get a massage
  4. Use good self-care: make sure you are getting good nutrition and good sleep

For those of you who find that the above strategies aren't enough to reduce you anxiety to a tolerable level or for those of you who have pre-existing anxiety issues.

  1. Talk to your primary care provider (or psychiatrist if you have one) about medication options, both long term and short term; for both anxiety and sleep
  2. Think about getting into therapy and learn cognitive behavioral techniques to address your anxiety
  3. Find a group that lets you connect to others who have experienced similar levels of anxiety and who may be able to share ideas about what has been effective for them.

For those who are here who have been diagnosed, there was a study recently released that found a statistically significant improvement in the recurrence anxiety of breast cancer survivors. See a summary here: https://community.breastcancer.org/forum/105/topics/855472?page=1#idx_1

I may review and revise this post at will without defining why, unless saying why is integral to the work. I would like to be able to add links and additional information as I find it.


Dx 12/10/2002, DCIS, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 12/20/2002 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 12/23/2003 Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Surgery Reconstruction (right): Saline implant Surgery Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery Mastectomy: Right
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Jan 28, 2018 08:08AM Georgia1 wrote:

Bumping up this helpful discussion of anxiety


Cancer touched my breast so I kicked its ass. Dx 9/3/2017, ILC/IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 10/10/2017, LCIS, Right, 0/1 nodes Surgery 10/10/2017 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/26/2017 Whole breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 1/2/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jan 30, 2018 05:38PM MTwoman wrote:

Thanks Georgia!

Dx 12/10/2002, DCIS, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 12/20/2002 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 12/23/2003 Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Surgery Reconstruction (right): Saline implant Surgery Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery Mastectomy: Right
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Feb 5, 2018 12:33PM gb2115 wrote:

Is anyone else having anxiety about this stupid flu season? I'm starting to feel really anxious about this--partly because I work in healthcare so it's like a ticking time bomb. I did get a flu shot, but yikes it seems like a bad year. I am so afraid of taking the flu home to my young child.

:-(

First Dx IDC in 10/16 at age 38, stage 2A, 1.2 cm ER/PR+ Her2-, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes. Lumpectomy + radiation + tamoxifen. Second Dx IDC recurrence in original location 5/21. 1.3 cm ER/PR+, Her2 -. Grade 2. 2/2 nodes. UMX + AC/T + Zoladex/Exemestane + Zometa.
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Feb 5, 2018 12:59PM momto3sons wrote:

I'm concerned about it, since it's flying through my office. I did get the flu shot, and luckily I'm not dealing with cancer treatment. But I'll have an excisional biopsy in a couple of weeks, and I don't want to add the flu on top of that...or have to postpone the biopsy because I'm sick.

Carolyn, mom to 3 sons - ADH, intraductal papillomas 3/1/18 Surgery 2/21/2018 Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right)
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Feb 5, 2018 11:52PM meow13 wrote:

Yes. My son who is 25 didn't get a flu shot and he won't get it. I worry because he works going to many different public locations like grocery stores. He is an IT technical support person so he deals we computer equipment and software installations, not alot of direct people contact. As if cancer isn't enough to worry about. Also because he is on the road alot I worry about accidents too. Ugh will the worry ever stop?

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Feb 6, 2018 10:17PM MTwoman wrote:

So I know that this flu season is a bad one in many areas, and being concerned about that is reasonable. Please let the concern motivate you to do everything that you can to protect yourself. I got to the Emergency Department multiple times a day for my job, so I can't stay away from that setting (which is the #1 recommendation for avoiding the flu), but what you should also be doing is: staying hydrated, eating well, getting enough sleep and hand washing, hand washing hand washing. You could also do whatever type of natural immune system booster that you like to do (unless that is counter indicated for your stage in treatment). Don't let worry take over, use it to motivate you to do all that is reasonable to protect yourself!

Medicating

Dx 12/10/2002, DCIS, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 12/20/2002 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 12/23/2003 Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Surgery Reconstruction (right): Saline implant Surgery Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery Mastectomy: Right
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Feb 6, 2018 10:39PM meow13 wrote:

They are even recommending getting the shot if you have the flu. I can't talk any sense into my son, but he still ok.

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Feb 17, 2018 02:17PM bride wrote:

My daughter-in-law and one of my granddaughters got the flu despite having had flu shots. The CDC says the flu vaccine is only about 32 percent effective this year. My stubborn DIL didn’t get treatment and was sick for 10 days. My granddaughter got Tamiflu (?) and was sick for 2 days and, honestly, she had no symptoms after 1 day on the antiviral. I think getting the flu shot and then seeking treatment immediately if you get flu symptoms really lowers the risk of serious danger.

I understand your anxiety but, hopefully, it will come to nothing. I do think you don’t need the anxiety about your son — it’s not good for your own health. And that’s exactly what I would tell your son.

Best wishes,

bride

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. ~Anais Nin Dx 12/2/2013, IBC, Stage IIIB, 0/12 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Hormonal Therapy 11/17/2014 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Mar 6, 2018 09:04PM - edited Mar 6, 2018 09:06PM by sas-schatzi

MT hope you don't mind me making a post. The flu vaccine is determined by a group that meets in a European country(forget which) in Jan of each year. They review data from previous years and present data. They choose three viruses to target that year. Then the pharm companies develop the vaccine over the next months to be ready by Sept. They HOPE they have chosen wisely.

According to the last CDC MMWR that I read within the last week or so. This years vaccine is only 10 % effective. Earlier this year it showed a higher effectiveness rate, but that has decreased with time..

Even in a stellar year of choice of viruses, a 60% effectiveness is considered great.

This year missed the mark.

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out shouting "holy crap....what a ride".
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Mar 7, 2018 02:28PM gb2115 wrote:

I think they really do a great job considering---it's kind of like predicting the weather. No one can really see the future, they just do the best they can!!

First Dx IDC in 10/16 at age 38, stage 2A, 1.2 cm ER/PR+ Her2-, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes. Lumpectomy + radiation + tamoxifen. Second Dx IDC recurrence in original location 5/21. 1.3 cm ER/PR+, Her2 -. Grade 2. 2/2 nodes. UMX + AC/T + Zoladex/Exemestane + Zometa.

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