But see, the people on the support boards are at the other end of the spectrum. They are ultra aware of everything because they have already been diagnosed. You could go on there and say "my ear itches", and you'd find someone on there who says "Yeah, I had that too". I think, too, that some of them are feeling so bad about their diagnoses that it's a little bit of a misery loves company mentality. Not saying all of them, but some.
Anyone on here who has somewhat of a grip on his/her anxiety will say going on those support boards is almost as bad as googling symptoms. You can't un-read the stuff you've already read on there, but try not to go on those anymore. You're not helping yourself at all, in fact making things worse.
I want to make an observation about your post CEH... It was the Head and Neck cancer boards I belonged to (and still do) that led me to the anxiety boards. There would be posters coming on that would be scared to death about a swollen node or a perceived swollen node, sore throat, cough or mouth ulcer that would be freaking out about having oral cancer. Most would be young, far outside the optimal age of getting the disease.
Of course, we would all be reassuring and preach the mantra "It's not cancer until they say it's cancer".
and recommend seeing their doctor or an ENT. We'd preach the rule of thumb. "If you have a node, area or lesion that doesn't resolve within 3-4 weeks see an ENT that's knows oral cancer".
Then, as they would continue to post, I would see the same pattern. They'd been to their GP several times. The GP fobbed it off to stress and anxiety or something totally benign like allergies or a common mouth ulcer. The poster wouldn't believe the doctor and then would have several tests, blood work, CT and MRIs, all negative, but they were sure it had to be cancer. Their symptoms just didn't add up to what we all experienced and it became clear that they had health anxiety. Eventually, we would suggest that and eventually the poster would move on. So I don't think it's the "misery loves company"
on the disease forums. The last thing I want to see is a newbie on the cancer boards believe me! It's different on these boards. All the "Does anyone have this?"
posts just feed the anxiety if you ask me. There are 100-1 posts that are symptom related as opposed to healing related.
Mind you, I have a bit of GAD, I call it "scanxiety" and have suffered some depression. It's understandable based on my experiences. I sought help and have managed quite well. The worst I get is a bit irritable and withdrawn come check up time as I do worry about my cancer returning. I get down sometimes due to the limitations the disease has caused in my life. The side effects of my treatment are extremely persistent and difficult at best to manage. I'm more aware of the side effects of my ordeals as opposed to being hyper aware of symptoms. To be honest, I had no real symptoms. I won't describe what they were because I know those with oral cancer fears will adopt them and say "I have that! OMG!" ;)
I ended up checking out the anxiety boards and was fascinated by it. I found post after post, pages of them that were nearly identical to the posts that would come up on the cancer boards. So I came to these boards, hoping to help if I could. Offer a real life perspective to all those node and cancer fears. Offer a real life perspective to heart issues and fears. I've been there and live it every day.
I can tell you in all the 1000's of posts I've read and/or responded to, there has been only one person that actually had a serious illness. To my surprise, she handled it beautifully and is dealing with it head on and doing well. Her anxiety surprisingly has taken a back seat and she's actually feeling better than she ever has despite her illness. She'll be fine but she has a tough road to travel for a while. The boards also offered some valuable information that's helped me deal with my own dragons. I downloaded and use a great CBT course that helps when I start feeling down or irritable. It's actually very useful real life advice that works in a variety of situations. It's helped me learn and understand my daughter's anxiety and depression and helped me help her.
If there's anything I'd like to see more of, it would be those that are on the healing path really help those that are struggling but it seems that part of the healing process from anxiety is to avoid these sites. It's understandable. I'm not on the cancer boards hardly at all anymore. It brings back too many bad memories and I'm trying to move on but if I can can pay it forward and help even one person move toward healing, it's a good thing :)