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
Log in to post a reply

Page 6 of 16 (157 results)

Log in to post a reply

Jun 26, 2017 01:43PM MTwoman wrote:

Here is a nice discussion on the Mayo website about meditation:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858

and here is a link on the UCLA site that gives you free guided meditations in either English or Spanish:

http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations

Why not give it a try?

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
Log in to post a reply

Jul 7, 2017 06:38AM Sjb2 wrote:

Where can I find Valerian root? is it a tea? I am having the worst time sleeping while waiting for lumpectomy resukts

Log in to post a reply

Jul 7, 2017 10:38AM MTwoman wrote:

Sjb, so sorry you're having sleep problems. It is so difficult to think straight, be calm or effective when you can't get good sleep. Try going to a place where they have high quality herbs and supplements. Where I live, there is a Coop (a local whole foods cooperative) and an herbal nutrition center that carry these types of things. If you have a Whole Foods or any store that tends to sell high quality natural products, they will likely carry it. You can get Valerian root in powder (capsule or tablet form), tincture or already prepared in a tea. ((hugs))

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
Log in to post a reply

Jul 7, 2017 06:17PM Sjb2 wrote:

Thank you! I will go to my local heath food store tomorrow and look for it.

Log in to post a reply

Jul 7, 2017 06:30PM MTwoman wrote:

Great! and hope your sleep improves!

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
Log in to post a reply

Jul 11, 2017 01:22PM MTwoman wrote:

bump

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
Log in to post a reply

Jul 11, 2017 07:35PM Tpralph wrote:

another thing is google "sleep hygiene" also has some good ideas to use

Dx 3/10/2017, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/21 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-, Dx 4/10/2017, IDC, Right, <1cm, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 5/18/2017 Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Chemotherapy 6/28/2017 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 11/29/2017 Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary Radiation Therapy 1/15/2018 Whole breast: Lymph nodes, Chest wall
Log in to post a reply

Jul 12, 2017 11:04AM MTwoman wrote:

Tpralph, Excellent! I am a big fan of sleep hygiene. That includes things like: having a routine at bedtime, going to sleep at the same time each night, making sure your room is as dark, quiet and cool as possible, eliminating blue light (from tv, computers etc) at least an hour before you want to go to sleep*, making sure to be hydrated (but not too close to bedtime) and perhaps doing some breathing or relaxing prior to sleep. I like to have a book to read, but not a new one that might catch my attention and activate my brain, usually one I've read before so I can close it at the right time.

*blue light is absorbed by special photo receptors in the eyeball. the blue light can delay the release of melatonin by the brain, causing us to have more difficulty initiating sleep

Anyone else have tips to help get good sleep for others who may be struggling?

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
Log in to post a reply

Jul 12, 2017 03:10PM alicki wrote:

hello,

I have anxiety due to several ops and illnesses (not cancer) in 4 years. All I can say, is that anxiety is exhausting. Just recovering from ovary removal, and my mind is like a wild monkey, jumping from tree to tree, wondering what else is going to hit me. One thing I have noticed is that it takes time to control it. Hypnosis with therapist is helping. As for sleeping, Ativan has become my friend and I would love to get rid of it but not easy...any suggestions? Been taking 1mg-2mg a da for 4 years now

I'm learning not to worry about things until they happen, not easy but learning!

Best

Alicki

Log in to post a reply

Jul 12, 2017 04:17PM MTwoman wrote:

Alicki, step by step. working with a therapist on techniques that help you manage your anxiety is step one. When you're ready, "getting rid" of Ativan after daily doses for 4 years will take some time. Your prescribing physician should come up with a very slow taper plan with several plateaus built in. Those will serve several purposes. The first is to make sure you don't have any withdrawal symptoms, which can happen with medicines in that class (benzodiazepine). The next is to make sure you don't have what is called "rebound anxiety" which can happen when you come off of benzos. That is a phenomenon that goes something like this: benzos are particularly good at reducing feelings of anxiety to the point that people who previously had the anxiety think that it is "normal" NOT to feel any. (which isn't true, we all have feelings of anxiety, they are nature's way of telling us to pay attention/something's up) So when someone reduces their dose and has some feelings of anxiety, it creates more anxiety in response. The third is time, to do what you are currently doing. Working to address how you manage your anxiety. If you go slowly, and build your skills, you will most likely be able to significantly reduce, if not fully discontinue your Ativan. But only when you're ready. You can have a conversation with your therapist about preparing, and what might be signals that you are ready. In the meantime, GOOD FOR YOU for first asking for medicines to help when you needed them, and second for working towards managing your "monkey brain" that many of us experience. ((hugs))

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

Page 6 of 16 (157 results)

Scroll to top button