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Thread: Breast Cancer/lymphoma fears...need support

  1. #1

    Breast Cancer/lymphoma fears...need support

    I admit fully that I have health anxiety. It's likely rooted in untreated depression and anxiety spanning over 10 years, but over the last few years morphed into debilitating fears over health.

    42 years old, female, fit and fairly healthy, eat properly. Not so great family genetics related to health. Used to drink, no longer do...smoked a long time ago, quit in 2002.

    2016, benign breast biopsy - calcifications
    2019, strange numbness, tingling, bladder issues...undetermined, but likely nerve/disc issues. MRIs showed nothing significant
    2019, severe IBS, weird abdominal and flank pains/stools...nothing sinister on endo/colon scope
    Liver, pancreas, kidney, aorta, gallbladder fine on ultrasound as my symptoms indicated liver/gallbladder issues
    2020, breast lump (same breast from 2016), benign 16 mm nodule, dense tissue
    2020, unknown enlargement of duodenum...possibly diverticulitis, polyp or even lymphoma.

    Bloodwork completely fine as of this past Thursday. More scans Monday on duodenum. Terrified beyond belief.

    Between family history, weird symptoms, dense breast tissue, now stomach/duodenum undiagnosed issue...I'm a wreck.

    I lost a coworker and close friend to lung and esophageal cancer in 2018, both in their early/mid 40s. Another coworker will likely not recover after metastaticized tumor in brain, early 50s. Cancer seems as if its everywhere now...despite all the medicine and technology on this planet.

    I feel hopeless and terrified. I try to practice mindfulness, and some CBT principles, but it's not giving much comfort. Statistical probabilities don't help much either as I could fall anywhere in that spread.

    Need rational encouragement or a nudge toward hope. Struggling more than I can express.

    Why do I bother eating clean, fitness, saving for retirement...planning. Scared I'll be dead before 45.
    Last edited by erincassells; 15-02-20 at 02:24. Reason: Spelling

  2. #2

    Re: Breast Cancer/lymphoma fears...need support

    Anyone? Feeling in utter despair today...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Re: Breast Cancer/lymphoma fears...need support


    benign breast biopsy

    MRIs showed nothing significant

    nothing sinister on endo/colon scope

    fine on ultrasound

    breast lump (same breast from 2016), benign
    Ok, so see the pattern here - tests, concluded with no problems even though obviously you did have to go through the worry leading up to the tests. So, now you are onto 2020 and have another set of symptoms to deal with, which as yet there are no results on - but can I ask why lymphoma has been proferred as a possibility ?

    You mention family genetics, and some health implications - is that something you have had genetic counselling for or could get genetic counselling for ? I don't know the extent to which it is the reason why you having a very close eye kept on for possible illnesses, or if you are jumping to the conclusions about what the illnesses could be as this seems an extensive list of possibilites. Basically, can you explain a bit more about these 'health scares' and how much you feel was driven by HA and how much driven by actual physical illness/symptoms.

    Welcome to the forum by the way. I'm sorry you feel so low and at such a loss right now, keep talking on here and we can try and work through things a bit.

  4. #4

    Re: Breast Cancer/lymphoma fears...need support

    Thank you so much for responding.

    My mom's side of family has breast cancer (great gmother), auto immune and lymphoma (gmother) despite it supposedly being not genetic. Mom has had auto immune for some time, but is fairly healthy at 67 and manages it.

    My tests over time basically came about as a result of symptoms, agreed to by my docs and myself as they arose to eliminate issues.

    The duodenum enlargement per radiologist reading on recent CT scan listed polyps, diverticulitis or even lymphoma as potential causes, but nothing definitive so it came about as a surprise to me. My bloodwork has been fine for months minus a blip due to cold virus. The IBS has lingered for months and causes pressures and pain I assume, but on the right side I have consistent pressure (also could be IBS related). I can no longer discern between symptoms or hypervigilance and HA. My doc suggested CT scan after scope just to make sure.

    No fevers, bleeding, or acute symptoms I suppose. I've been highly anxious for months due to several personal and professional factors

    I have to meet with gastro doc Wednesday after more scans on Monday to determine what is causing enlargement. He found nothing sinister on endo scope in January but worried now something was missed.

    Terrified. The waiting...I live alone in desolate part of US. Most friends and family I talk to think my fears are not grounded.

    Don't have skills to provide comfort to myself anymore. Just in despair today, can't turn off the tears. Used to be much more resilient.
    Last edited by erincassells; 15-02-20 at 22:11.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Re: Breast Cancer/lymphoma fears...need support

    So, your blood work has been good for months - this counts as something very positive - right ?

    You do sound so very lonely and I wonder what you could engage in terms of mental health support where you live ? When thoughts and feelings are left to fester, with little outside contact, they can of course become magnified and out of proportion. Its easy for your friends and family to say your fears are not grounded, and indeed they might not be, but in your head the clock is ticking to you possibly contracting something serious based on your family experiences and things you've witnessed with co-workers and friends. There are never any guarantees for any of us that we will or won't get some illness or other through life, but most of the time we are able to put those thoughts into the background and get on with life. If we didn't do that it would cripple us. At the moment your thoughts and fears are right at the forefront and commanding all your attention and burning you out, so what can be done ? Firstly you need to start reminding yourself that your Mom is a healthy 67 year old, you are a healthy 42 year old and you have taken all steps within your power to ensure that you are living a healthy life, that counts for a lot. (You know I do worry about these written reports that you guys in the states seem to get given to you, they always cause so much fear on here as they list all sorts of things in such a clinical way and without face to face explanations and talking with a medical person so much can be read into them). You do also need to remind yourself that despite the fears and the checks the doctor has referred you for, nothing has been discovered that is of concern in previous years.

    You know what; Waiting for tests is the worst, very worst part of this process - even if you end up with some sort of diagnosis (and I sincerely hope that you don't and is you do its something minor and treatable) then YOU WILL deal with it. It is this time, right now, where your brain has a field day with the fears, the unknowns and the possibilities. Maybe you can't feel good right now, but you just have to power on through and get past the post - the MRI early in the week. Its going to be hard, difficult and terrifying, but no amount of fear and worrying now is going to change whatever is causing you problems. People DO cope, people DO manage to live, have treatments and find an inner strength to deal with health problems. YOu would do the same, although it doesn't feel like it right now, but with your friends and family supporting you would do whatever is necessary to deal with any health problem should it be diagnosed.

    You have sure had your fair share of 'health scares' in the last few years, and it sounds like one after the other they have depleted your strength to bounce back. This is why I wonder about some counselling assistance that might be availiable to you, is that possible, could it be arrange to help you through?

  6. #6

    Re: Breast Cancer/lymphoma fears...need support

    Thank you for your kindness and suggestions. I have been struggling for a long time and after moving due to an assignment to a desolate part of US, it's been horribly difficult. No bonds to anyone here...horrible weather.

    I appreciate your encouragement. I feel depleted on handling much more and just want peace. Not sure how well I'd even handle bad news at this point. I'm really at the lowest point I've been, worried for myself

    I will likely seek counseling this week...

    Hoping good bloodwork is a good sign?? I just don't know.

    Doctors are rarely compassionate and just handle things so clinically and without humanity.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Re: Breast Cancer/lymphoma fears...need support

    I'm only sorry that I can't give more suggestions for solving your low mood and distressed state, but it does certainly sound like your living/home environment isn't suiting your needs and making things feels 100 times worse. Maybe something to consider is that no matter what comes of your MRI, good, bad or indifferent, you need to consider a major life change to a happier, less isolated place ? Life will carry on beyond this next test, no matter what it shows, and I think you owe it to yourself to put yourself somewhere that is better for your mental health.

    I will likely seek counseling this week...
    I think seeking some support is a really good idea at this point, there are clearly lots of issues that are bringing you down, and without some intervention they are becoming 'uncopeable' for you. Even if you find something/someone who gives you an outlet for your fears in a safe and caring space, that'd be beneficial. You mention that you have untreated depression and anxiety - maybe its time, to get that treatment now ? Also, take comfort from the fact that we are not in the place we were 'medically speaking' when your great grandmother had breast cancer - there is no comparison with treatments and prognosis and the same no doubt applies to any of the other concerns you have relating to the medical history of your family.

    Do keep posting.....people here will listen. HA as a topic is a BIGGY here, many will understand your fears of tests and fears about your own mortality and cancer and terminal illnesses. We always try and remind people though that life is about today, today you are here and living and a 'healthy 42 year old'. Nobody knows what tomorrow brings.
    Last edited by Carys; 15-02-20 at 22:43.

  8. #8

    Re: Breast Cancer/lymphoma fears...need support

    I accepted this assignment due to a promotion, so I'm unable to move or retire for 2.5 years. I wish I could and regret the move completely.

    One of these times, it likely won't be benign and I just don't think I can go through it alone.

    I have read countless posts of your compassion and support to others, including me...thank you.

    I'll do my best, just can't stop crying today.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Re: Breast Cancer/lymphoma fears...need support

    You are entirely welcome, its a terrible feeling when you feel so low and alone.

    One of these times, it likely won't be benign
    Why do you say that though ? I mean, for example your Great grandmother was it ? had BC, and no other female family members. That doesn't even count as being a possible genetic link. Your Grandmother Auto immune condition and lymphoma, but I presume that was at a much later age to what you are now - a geriatric lymphoma form ? Your Mum, your nearest genetic link 'only' has an auto immune condition. So, actually, if you think about it - there has been a reduction in conditions through the generations of your family. Also, and I don't mean this to trivialise your fears, but nowadays with modern medicine and diagnosis it is fairly standard that most families have various diagnosed conditions, especially by old age. We all live much longer I am actually saying that although it feels like your family has had a large number of conditions, maybe its not that unusual really, my Dad has ALS, my Mum has a whole host of conditions including a debilitating autoimmune problem, other family members over 50 have had a variety of other things - BC being one of them. Its sad to say, but as you age, you become more aware of these things and they become more common. This doesn't however mean that they aren't treatable !!!!

  10. #10

    Re: Breast Cancer/lymphoma fears...need support

    I guess I believe a terminal illness is inevitable for me based on my prior habits and genetics. Your perspective does make sense and I suppose I didn't look at it from that angle.

    I used to drink wine pretty often and sometimes heavily off/on for years, unknown damage likely done there. I've changed my habits, but who knows if it's too late. Sun damage, smoking. I was an idiot and unaware of the risks in many ways.

    I've never had children, dense breast tissue, alcohol, menstrual cycle concerns...just have read I carry higher risk factors.

    I'm not exactly sure when I became this way over the years...likely watching my close friend die and not being able to soothe her pain began part of my spiral. It was horrific and the world feels smaller without her.

    My rational brain knows there are medical advances now and there's treatment available for most if not all ailments and diseases.

    It's been a hellish few years in so many ways. Undiagnosed 'surprise' symptoms and going to those appointments alone has just been more than I can take.

    I'm ashamed to even mention it when so many have been through or are going through difficult health concerns.

    There isn't much I can do except take care of myself in the areas I have control and do my best.

    Scared for the week ahead, not as brave anymore.

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