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Author Topic: New here - cancer fear  (Read 89 times)

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Offline rogueknits

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New here - cancer fear
« on: July 09, 2014, 12:24:58 PM »
Hi everyone. I'm new here, and trying to keep myself occupied before my doctor appointment this afternoon (I'm sure you all know how that can be). For background info, I am a 34 year old woman who has been struggling with generalized anxiety and depression most of my life and health anxiety for at least 5 years. I've been seeing a therapist for the last 3 years, and while therapy has been helpful with my depression and my generalized anxiety, it seems like my health anxiety has been steadily getting worse. I just looked at my medical records for the past year, and I've been to one doctor or another at least monthly. This past spring I had some vague abdominal pain that would come and go on my right side--eventually my doctor did a CT scan and all was normal. That pain has now mostly disappeared, and I thought I could maybe have a good stretch of being relatively not worried, but of course my brain won't cooperate.

About a week and a half ago, while on vacation, I noticed a lump in my cheek, near the hinge of my jaw. There is a much smaller lump on the other side in the same place, so I thought maybe it was an enlarged lymph node. Of course, I then pressed on the lump a lot and it was very tender the next day, and I had some tingling/numbness on that side of my face for a few days afterward. I hoped that it would go away, but it's still there and I believe I have some other lymph nodes swollen on that side (one behind my ear, one or two in my neck). I also feel like I'm having trouble swallowing, although that is a common manifestation of my anxiety so it's hard to say if it's related. I made an appointment for this afternoon with my ENT who has seen me in the past for swollen lymph nodes. Today I made the mistake of googling parotid (salivary) gland cancer, and I'm now sure that my lump is a tumor.

I'm not sure what I'm looking for here, except support from people who know what I'm going through. My husband and mother are beyond frustrated with me because I am always certain I have cancer and it always turns out to be nothing serious. I have an appointment with my therapist later today, and I am going to tell her that we need to try something different. What we have been doing isn't working, and I'm tired of being terrified most of my waking hours. I had been resistant to taking medications again (was on Zoloft for about 10 years), but now I am thinking I may need something, at least short term while I work on this more in therapy. Even just writing this out makes me feel a little calmer.
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Offline mollyfin

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Re: New here - cancer fear
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2014, 05:33:49 PM »
Sometimes just writing out health fears can be helpful in my experience, especially in a place where people get health anxiety.

I hope your therapist comes up with some good ideas to help you deal with it.  It's not fun at all, as you're well aware, but it can be beaten. 
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Offline rogueknits

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Re: New here - cancer fear
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2014, 06:26:17 PM »
Well, ENT said it's just an enlarged lymph node (and not even THAT enlarged--she was surprised I even found it) possibly from a low level infection. She offered antibiotics, but I declined since there's no definitive infection to treat. I'm supposed to just keep an eye on it for any changes, but there was no mass or anything to point to cancer.

As far as therapy, I'm going back to keeping a journal for a while, which was helpful in the past in dealing with my other anxiety. We also discussed the possibility of going back on meds. I'm going to think about that for a little while longer. I'll see if the journaling and being a bit more proactive with heading off the anxiety before it gets out of hand helps.
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