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 04:31PM

Posted on: May 25, 2017 04:31PM

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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Mar 12, 2018 06:55PM sas-schatzi wrote:

gb, I wasn't critizing to much. It's a monumental process. Your analogy is dead on. " like predicting the weather. No one can really see the future, they just do the best they can!!" We are great at a 7 day weather prediction. 7-10 months, duh...not. The point was just to describe the process and that it is a very thoughtful process with oodles of worldwide data. Then hope they have picked right. There are many folks that have already analyzed why the threshold wasn't met this year. They have already presented their findings with other findings to the group figuring this falls combo vaccine. Next Sept. vaccine is already being grown.

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 12, 2018 10:11PM KES_06 wrote:

Great post! Thank you! This makes a lot of sence and honestly makes me think differently about a lot of the things I encounter sometimes especially when it comes to my health.

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Mar 13, 2018 11:35PM MTwoman wrote:

Sas, I stay pretty informed about the flu season as well. Some of the info I read prior to the onset of the season was a prediction that this would possibly be a bad flu season. One of the reasons is that the vaccine wouldn't convey as robust an immune response as other years for a couple of reasons. That is because one of the strains that was predicted to dominate the season, and was therefore incorporated into the vaccine is H3N2. It was also in last year's vaccine. When a strain is incorporated into a vaccine 2 years in a row typically means that a person getting the vaccine will not have the same robust immune response. Another reason is the strain H3N2 is a bad one, and the immune response conveyed for H3N2 is typically not as high as it is for other strains. All in all, avoid places where many sick people are, frequent handwashing, staying hydrated, and staying well rested.


Stay well everyone!

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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Mar 21, 2018 12:36PM gb2115 wrote:

So...the every 6 month "scan anxiety." After a clear mammogram in October, I get an MRI tomorrow. Might have to wait a couple of weeks for results. I don't know if they'll call me or I'll get them at my surgeon followup appointment in April. I guess if they find something maybe they won't make me wait. Not sure.

Does this start to get easier? I'm worried about the MRI because it's so specific, I feel like if there's the hint of anything they will biopsy. I understand that. But I don't want to have to deal with anything. And my last MRI biopsy was a nightmare. And now I have truncal lymphedema, so digging into that breast just sounds like a really sucky thing....sigh.

I know you all understand.

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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Mar 21, 2018 10:18PM - edited Mar 21, 2018 10:19PM by Egads007

Gb2115...oh hell yeah, it sucks to no end. I get flashbacks at mammogram time. Just went through my first call back Monday....just a joy! Worried sick for 3 weeks, like you, wanting to know RIGHT NOW, and then a second later wanting to pack a bag and go hide in Tasmania! Does it get easier? I sure hope so! I've convinced myself that I will handle another call back with demure quiet maturity....LMAO!! I'll be perusing travel flyers at the screening mammo. Hoping your MRI goes well and results come quickly. Let us know how you do

"I base all my fashion choices on what doesn't itch" (Gilda Radner) Chemotherapy 3/20/2013 Doxil (liposomal doxorubicin), Taxol (paclitaxel) Surgery 8/23/2013 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right Radiation Therapy 11/1/2013 Whole breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Dx IDC, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Mar 25, 2018 12:04AM MTwoman wrote:

I won't pretend that scanxiety doesn't happen to me. But I have found that it carries less of a punch and doesn't last as long as the years go by. I'm 15 years NED and coming up on my next annual scans :) Inviting us all to breathe through it and keep supporting each other!!

Heart

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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Mar 25, 2018 09:51PM - edited Mar 25, 2018 09:52PM by Giselle20

when I first found the indent on my breast on january 30 my anxiety was a little high for a week. But after a clear ultrasound and constantly shining a flashlight on my boob I was OK, joyful even. Still a little concerned but totally ok.

Now its March and I would say that for the last week and a half I have been feeling sleepy all day. I sleep 6-9 hours on average, although I fall asleep like at 3 or 4 am. Sometimes I will sleep at 11 but still feel sleepy all day.

I don't feel anxious, maybe I am subconsciously because I will be getting an MRI soon and am scared of what may come up.

Ugh I hate this because then my mind starts wandering about why I feel so sleepy all the.

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Mar 26, 2018 11:56AM Michi wrote:

I’m heading in for an MRI tomorrow, and my mind doesn’t stop. I’m over analyzing every ache and pain in my breast and body, wondering if it could be tied to something. I don’t have any palpable lump but one breast grew larger than the other back in December and hasn’t gone back to normal yet. I had a clean mamo but pushed for an MRI since I’m 34 and have denser tissue. My mind always goes to the worst place. I swear, regardless of what happens I’m looking into anxiety meds. Tired of being this high strung. Doesn’t help that two friends and my step mother have been diagnosed with cancer this past year, which threw me into this whole spiral of anxiety. Glad to know I am not the only one

Dx 4/12/2018, LCIS, Right, <1cm Surgery 5/21/2018 Prophylactic mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement
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Mar 26, 2018 01:02PM gb2115 wrote:

For me it's the waiting...the phone could ring at any time, with good or bad news...that drives me nuts!!!

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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Mar 26, 2018 01:44PM Michi wrote:

sending good vibes! Waiting is so difficult! I’m going to offer the radiologist my first born if they will read the MRI results right after they scan me!😂😂😂


Dx 4/12/2018, LCIS, Right, <1cm Surgery 5/21/2018 Prophylactic mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant, Tissue expander placement

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