Four Tips For Living With Cancer Anxiety

Started by Martha Carlson, August 02, 2016
7 replies for this topic
Martha Carlson

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558 Posts
Posted on
August 02, 2016
I seem to dwell on the subject of anxiety. I find myself easily falling into a state of anxiety when certain tests, like three-month check-in CT scans, must be done and shared with me. Lately it has also caused problems when I need an IV placed. Anxiety, for me, is very different from garden-variety nervousness. If I’m not paying attention, anxiety has the power to knock me down and keep me down.

In my life and with my diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, anxiety is one of those emotions that is inevitable. It’s not a matter of beating or “getting rid of” anxiety. I know I have to learn how to live with it, preferably in peace and with acceptance.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve had lots of practice in finding ways to allow myself to acknowledge anxiety while not letting it take me down. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Don’t deny it. Anxiety has a sneaky way of taking over my life. Maybe you’ve felt it too? Like all emotions, though, it doesn’t serve you well to deny it or hide it from yourself or others. I’ve found that if I simply say, “I’m feeling really anxious today” to the nurse holding that IV tubing or to a friend who asks how things are going, I immediately feel better. Not less anxious necessarily, but just naming the emotion helps. Naming it, out loud, can provide a reason for the racing heart or the physical tightness that occurs when anxiety is attempting a takeover. It won’t make it go away, but it lets me see this is not a new feeling and that I know what it is and I know how to handle it.

Get physical. It’s no big secret that exercise can make you feel better (and experts think it might also specifically help with cancer treatments), but for me it is a mental health requirement. Getting my heart rate up for 30 minutes every day is a surefire way to control my anxiety about treatments. Because it releases a slew of feel-good hormones, exercise helps control the negative emotions that come along with any serious health diagnosis. When I was unable to exercise for two months because of radiation pain and a too-full calendar, anxiety quickly took over at every health-related appointment. It took someone else, who knew I was losing in my efforts to live with cancer anxiety, to point out that I hadn’t been exercising and maybe slowly returning to that would make a difference.

Choose mindfulness. Those who know me, know I’m not big on the metaphysical. But people change. There’s a meditation practice called the body scan that I find particularly helpful in calming myself when I feel anxiety coming on. It is simply a method of slowly examining and acknowledging—without judgment—every part of your body. It can take as little as three minutes, so I find it useful when waiting for a test or when the nurses have a hard time placing an IV. In my case, it’s easiest to use the body scan technique when I listen to someone directing me, so I’ve found several videos on YouTube that I can get to from my phone. I keep a set of small headphones in my purse so I can listen in private if I am in the hospital.

Combine the physical with the metaphysical. I’ve become a firm practitioner of an Eastern exercise called qi gong, which is similar to the better-known tai chi. It doesn’t get my heart going like the treadmill does, but the combination of specific movements with the mental focus on specific body parts is oddly comforting and relaxing. Qi gong is where I’ve learned that it is okay to feel something strongly but do nothing about it other than acknowledge it, which is exactly the secret when faced with cancer anxiety. I’ve found that just making one or two of the movements, along with the slower breathing, while waiting for the oncologist can help me find more calm.

I know that living with cancer anxiety is an ongoing experience. What works for me now may not work in six months and, with luck, I’ll find something that does work. In the meantime, I’ll get on my treadmill and practice what I preach.
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558 Posts
Posted on
July 17, 2016
Martha- Well said! I am an ovarian cancer survivor. You have highlighted the same anxieties that I try to work through through. I am employing good nutrition, exercise and positive thoughts. In addition I want add to your list of anti-anxiety tactics, acupuncture. I believe it boosts my immune system, provides energy and helps me with reducing chemo nausea. I use the half an hour of relaxation during the session to reinforce positive imagery. I leave feeling calmed.
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Martha Carlson

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Posted on
July 22, 2016
Thank you for suggesting acupuncture. I did try it but my fear of needles did not make it a relaxing experience. The practitioner was actually the person who suggested I try Tai chi or qi gong. I'm looking for some acupressure lessons though! Good luck to you.
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TanyaDean

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Posted on
July 08, 2017
Thank you for all the tips. My husband is a patient of cancer, was diagnosed few months ago. He use to have a lot of mood swings and body pain and other cancer anxiety. We all the family members helped him to recover from it. His treatment is currently come to end at the breast cancer radiation Bronx, http://www.advancedradiationcenters.com/cancers/breast-cancer/ Now he has almost recovered from his disease. And hopefully will be done with all the procedures within few weeks.
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Sandy34

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0 Replies
Posted on
October 11, 2017
This is the great post. It is worth reading this post. Anxiety is the worst kind of thing for an individual who is going through it. A person can lose all his mind and patience because of anxiety. Various attempts are made here to avoid and vanish anxiety completely which is really a good kind of practice. If a person suffers from any disease like cancer, tuberculosis or any other kind of disease, then, in such case anxiety is the most common issue he or she goes through. In this case, the tips given here are highly appreciable and helpful. People can undergo several exercises to stay away from any kind of anxiety or depression. They can also have various holidays and vacations so that they can enjoy their best and anxiety can be avoided.People have to balance both, their mental as well as the physical state in order to ruin anxiety completely and can recover as soon as possible. All these attempts are very much essential to avoid and destroy anxiety from his or her mind. But even though, if a person is not able to cope up with anxiety and remain fighting with it then he or she can refer a psychic like [url=http://www.martine-voyance.com/]voyance direct[/url]. As psychics possess an ability to predict future with their supernatural and spiritual powers they can easily fix various types of anxiety problems among the people who are sufferers. They can tackle them easily by their sixth sense abilities and features. Various types of services can also be achieved by a psychic like voyance pure. People can also consult them by making a call at reasonable prices. Thus, by making these attempts a person can be diagonized and can thrown out from his or her state of anxiety.

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Sandy34

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
October 11, 2017
This is the great post. It is worth reading this post. Anxiety is the worst kind of thing for an individual who is going through it. A person can lose all his mind and patience because of anxiety. Various attempts are made here to avoid and vanish anxiety completely which is really a good kind of practice. If a person suffers from any disease like cancer, tuberculosis or any other kind of disease, then, in such case anxiety is the most common issue he or she goes through. In this case, the tips given here are highly appreciable and helpful. People can undergo several exercises to stay away from any kind of anxiety or depression. They can also have various holidays and vacations so that they can enjoy their best and anxiety can be avoided.People have to balance both, their mental as well as the physical state in order to ruin anxiety completely and can recover as soon as possible. All these attempts are very much essential to avoid and destroy anxiety from his or her mind. But even though, if a person is not able to cope up with anxiety and remain fighting with it then he or she can refer a psychic like voyance direct. As psychics possess an ability to predict future with their supernatural and spiritual powers they can easily fix various types of anxiety problems among the people who are sufferers. They can tackle them easily by their sixth sense abilities and features. Various types of services can also be achieved by a psychic like voyance pure. People can also consult them by making a call at reasonable prices. Thus, by making these attempts a person can be diagonized and can thrown out from his or her state of anxiety.
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KYKat

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0 Replies
Posted on
March 09, 2018
Has anyone had success with a psychologist or psychiatrist? I tried both, one insisted I be hospitalized with mental patients so I'd have people to 'share with' while the other said ALL cancer patients should be on psychotropic medications. These ideas are not in line with me and my needs and actually can be described as generic answers. Anyone know if counselors exist who deal solely with cancer patients on individual basis and not rely on cancer support groups? we are individuals afterall and personally, I do not share with a group what I would with a licensed physician.
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Martha Carlson

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0 Replies
Posted on
April 17, 2018
KYKat, on March 09, 2018 said:
Has anyone had success with a psychologist or psychiatrist? I tried both, one insisted I be hospitalized with mental patients so I'd have people to 'share with' while the other said ALL cancer patients should be on psychotropic medications. These ideas are not in line with me and my needs and actually can be described as generic answers. Anyone know if counselors exist who deal solely with cancer patients on individual basis and not rely on cancer support groups? we are individuals afterall and personally, I do not share with a group what I would with a licensed physician.

KYKat, that sounds like two terrible experiences. About two years into my diagnosis, I was not doing well with anxiety. I made an appointment with the psychologist in my cancer center. It was a one-time thing although I could have made more or could have had a recommendation for counseling. But simply talking about how I was having a hard time and that I couldn't get beyond my anxiety about treatments/prognosis was ruining the life I do have. She asked one simple question: What had I done in the past when I felt anxious?" Honestly, just hearing that question so succinctly made a difference. I'd dropped off the exercising, I'd kind of backed away from some friendships. I realized that I did have coping mechanisms and I could put them in to practice again. That said, I know many women (and men) with breast cancer who make use of psychiatrsits/psychologists and it is possible that your physician, a cancer center near you, a GP, can help you find someone who will help you and not be so unwilling to get to what matters. I wish you luck.
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