I know that I haven’t talked about it a whole lot, especially here, but my mom being diagnosed with breast cancer has done a number on my mental health. Not that I have gone insane, I just happen to be plagued with some crazy thoughts.
Basically it’s like this, I can’t stop thinking about cancer. And not just my mom’s – I keep wondering if I have cancer too. Every little thing: I have a headache, my first thought is I have a brain tumor. Or I find a strange bump and I am asking my husband if he thinks I should go to the doctor. Or the fact that I bruise easily – well that must mean I have bone cancer, but in the rational part of my brain, I know that I have always bruised easily. Worse yet, I keep thinking not only that I have cancer, but I run through different scenarios, I wonder how it would feel to have cancer, how it would feel to have a doctor say those words to me. Ahhh – it’s making me feel crazy (and probably sound crazy too). Poor Jason, he just listens, basically says you’re being a little dramatic and waits until I come up with the next cancer possibility.
But this has gotten me thinking, do all kids of parents that have cancer go through this same thought process? And does it ever end? Will I ever wake up one day and not think about cancer or imagine that this will be the day that I discover I have cancer?
A few days ago I actually found a swollen lymph node in my neck. Literally, I haven’t slept for three nights because I am convinced that this time it really is cancer. So today I went to the doctor. He did help ease my worry by basically saying that somewhere in the last week I was exposed to some sort of virus or bacteria and this was my body’s way of preventing me from getting sick. He assured me that my lymph nodes are doing their job and I have nothing to worry about unless it doesn’t go away in four to six weeks. Then I am to go back and have some tests. But in all reality he said I am 100 percent fine and healthy.
Well, these thoughts have been driving me nuts, so I told him about my mom’s recent diagnosis and about my dad’s history with lymphoma. He chuckled and said that people – anyone that knows someone that has been diagnosed with something traumatic starts thinking about it themselves. He said it is especially bad when it is a family member – especially a parent, because we assume that we will get it just like them. He went over the typical facts, yes I have a higher risk, yes I should start getting mammograms earlier than most people, and he generally went over everything I have already been told. He also told me to relax, try not to jump to all these conclusions and for a piece of mind and to help myself in the long run to try to live as healthy as I can. Meaning a healthy diet, regular exercise, eliminate stress, plenty of sleep, plenty of water, the works. He thinks that if I start focusing on my health now, it may take my mind off of the worst possible scenarios.
I think this is excellent advice. I have already eliminated some stress by leaving my job, I am sleeping better than I have in years (minus the last few nights), so now I need to focus on my diet and exercise. I have always tried to be pretty healthy, I walk the dogs daily, I try to eat well and drink lots of water, but I think I am going to start stepping it up. I am going to try (and it pains me to say it) eliminating some of the caffeine I drink (goodbye by my beloved Red Bull!), red meat, processed foods and start lathering on the sunscreen when I go outside (I’m bad about it because I never burn). I’m going to start focusing on eating organically while hitting the gym on a regular basis versus my monthly visit. I am also going to start researching specific eating habits that can help prevent cancer.
I’ve never had a stellar willpower, but hopefully these crazy thoughts ease up, and hopefully I can make significant changes to my health. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.