I guess I'll call this hypochondriac catch twenty-two. You're scared about a disease and you want to go to the Dr., but you're afraid to go to the Dr. because you're afraid you have a disease. It's something I do as well, but I'll hit you with two perspectives:
1. Getting something checked despite fears can at least temporarily break that cycle of fear.
2. On that note, is getting something checked to reassure you really going to help? Or is it going to make you worse?
I am still a hypochondriac, although cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sort of turned me into a "functioning" hypochondriac, where I still experience fears yet they do not take over my life half as much. My therapist told me about the obsessive compulsive tendencies of a hypochondriac, and as soon as he said this, I realized that I too suffer from the same kind of concept:
1. Medical reassurance is seen as the epitome of "feeling better", and the primary way in which we can talk our minds into believing we don't have X or Y disease.
2. My CBT therapist and I both came to the conclusion that the need to feel better is the obsessive, and the reassurance by doctors is the compulsive.
3. When you sought professional medical reassurance, has it ever helped you to permanently curb your fears?
4. Has lymphoma been your only medical-related fear?
If you answered "no" to questions 3 and 4, then you're in the same boat I'm in, and based on your description, I am guessing this would be more or less the case (apologies if I'm wrong). What I've been doing over the past year or so has been trying to weed out "tactics" that just feed the hypochondria. I am a cardiophobe (constantly worry about the health of my heart), so I used to check my pulse constantly and any time I had a panic attack I would rush to the emergency department. The thing is - did any of this do any good? When you break down the concept of rushing to the Dr. or checking a pulse impulsively, what real benefits can you deduce from them?
These impulses, while you hope they prove something is not wrong with you, they do exactly the opposite. You (and I) are actually subliminally telling ourselves that there is something wrong that needs to be "proven" wrong. Nobody on here can successfully tell anyone else on here that there is nothing wrong with them.
You might have heard something about the limbic system and the frontal cortex being opposites - the former controls emotions, fears, anxieties, while the latter controls logic, reasoning, etc. Clearly us hypochondriacs are letting the limbic system control our trains of thought. It is an annoying person at the back of a bus yelling things at us, and we are believing these things he's saying. When judging thoughts, what sets one thought apart or above another thought? Aside from subject matter, nothing. That's the thing - we let these thoughts and fears take over because whether we are aware of it or not, we attribute worth to certain thoughts, and because your limbic system has taken over your ability to reason, these emotive, fearful thoughts will obviously be viewed by your brain as being much more important.
So, I guess the question is, how do you break this cycle? I can share a few of my techniques.
1. Write things down and instead of relying on a Dr. or third party, force yourself to use your better judgment to disprove the fear. It's a lot easier I find to write these things down rather than trying to work them out in your head, just because the contents of a written sheet of paper do not change, whereas it's a mental battle ground inside your mind where it's very easy to further "disprove" this positive judgment.
2. The "What if" technique where you write down your symptoms and a list of all other possible explanations that you know of. For instance, I would write down "shortness of breath, fatigue, fast heartrate" along with every other viable explanation and how these explanations fit the symptoms. In all of my cases, I found that the less dangerous or even harmless explanations were just as likely or more likely.
3. I am not sure how effective this would be for your situation, but I do breathing exercises to relax myself: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/kb/content/actionset/uz2255.html
4. Mindfulness: http://www.mindfulness.com/
5. Preoccupation - trying to stay busy
6. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy): The technique that is intertwined with all of these techniques, consisting of a cognitive side which aims at adjusting how you think to reflect a more positive outlook and a more harmless and productive way of living, and behavioral which helps you adjust detrimental behaviors or habits, as well as adjust some negative lifestyle choices like procrastination or checking a pulse obsessively. Ideally, you would get the most help from an in-person therapist, however, I have been using this: https://moodgym.anu.edu.au/welcome
, which is an online CBT module. There are also plenty of CBT books out there, however the one I always recommend is either Feeling Good
or When Panic Attacks
by Dr. David Burns.
7. Realizing that no matter how much you want it to be, true recovery is slow and will occur over the course of months, as you gradually curb negative thoughts.
8. Realizing that while your life is on its head now, it is not hopeless, and this anxiety is not you. You are still you, and you will get better in time.