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Thread: Panicking about breast clinic referral and other scenarios. Can't sleep.

  1. #1
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    Jan 2013
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    Panicking about breast clinic referral and other scenarios. Can't sleep.

    I saw the doctor a week ago because of niggling pains in my left breast. She examined me and reassured me that there was absolutely no signs of breast cancer and that I was 'very low risk for breast cancer'. However, there was considerable pain when she pressed very firmly on the breast, which seemed to be coming from the chest wall rather than the breast. She has referred me to the breast clinic triage service but re-iterated that it was not because she suspected breast cancer. It's 7 years since I had a mammogram (too old!) so I guess that's one reason for referring me. She listened to my chest and checked my oxygen level (very good) blood pressure and heart rate, all okay. She asked me if I was breathless, which i didn't think I was - needless to say I am now! Initial relief, but then of course the worries started to creep in as I wonder what caused the pain on examination. My sister-in-law died in June of lung cancer, all happened very quickly as she had no warning at all until her lung collapsed, at least that's what we understand but you never know really. So of course now I'm panicking on top line, whilst telling myself I have none of the symptoms of lung cancer. The referral letter says I'll either hear from the breast clinic or from the surgery if the clinic doesn't think I need to be seen by them. Heard nothing yet.

    But how do I get the thoughts out of my head? How do I sleep? I tried slow deep breathing last night, but then got fixated on my breathing and couldn't relax at all. Only had a few hours sleep. Any advice on coping gladly accepted!

  2. #2

    Re: Panicking about breast clinic referral and other scenarios. Can't sleep.

    Sorry you haven't had any replies and hope that you have heard something from the clinic or surgery in regards to the next step?

  3. #3
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    Re: Panicking about breast clinic referral and other scenarios. Can't sleep.

    Thank you for the reply. I have an appointment at the breast clinic on Friday. Fixed the sleep problems by doubling my usual dose of pregabalin!

  4. #4
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    Re: Panicking about breast clinic referral and other scenarios. Can't sleep.

    Hi, sorry to hear you’re going through this, I know how you feel! I have had itchy, achy, stinging in left breast the last month and now have tight chest and shoulder/back pain. I had clear mammogram, it just showed I had increased density. They did ultrasound on right breast as I’d originally told GP I had pain in that side, but I think that was a one off and since then has only been in left. So I’m annoyed they didn’t ultrasound both. Going to see Breast Specialist today though so hoping to get an opinion as to what might be causing the pain, and he may want to refer me for more tests. It is hard to know what is real in terms of the breathing/sleeping/ chest issues ie whether it’s anxiety and brain telling us that we have something we don’t, or if there a something bad wrong! I’m petrified. So I don’t actually have words of advice but just wanted to respond to say you’re not alone, and wish you good luck for Friday!

  5. #5
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    Re: Panicking about breast clinic referral and other scenarios. Can't sleep.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coppernob View Post
    My sister-in-law died in June of lung cancer, all happened very quickly as she had no warning at all until her lung collapsed, at least that's what we understand but you never know really.
    Sorry about your sister, but it is possible that she knew something was wrong but avoided doing anything about it - for whatever reason.

    But how do I get the thoughts out of my head? How do I sleep? I tried slow deep breathing last night, but then got fixated on my breathing and couldn't relax at all. Only had a few hours sleep. Any advice on coping gladly accepted!
    There is only one way to stop this and that's to accept that you're not your sister, that you do have anxiety, and that this is all temporary because you will either be given the all clear (likely) or a diagnosis which most likely won't be cancer. It's just the one your HA is running with. It's far more likely to be anxiety or something trivial, as in muscular, but HA isn't interested in trivial. It likes cancer, strokes, heart attacks and all those other scary diseases.

    But, even if it is what you fear, you will handle it because it's easier to deal with reality (even it's a difficult one) than fear of the unknown.

    But my money is on anxiety...

    It doesn't surprise me that this chest symptom has manifested itself after your sister's death from lung cancer. It makes absolute sense, anxiety wise, that this should happen - such is the power of the mind.

    I reached a point with my HA where I was going to have a test which would 100% prove that I had cancer. There wasn't a shadow of a doubt in my mind. So, I stopped fearing it, and I faced it telling myself that I would accept my fate. The fear left me and that night I slept really well - despite the 'dead woman walking' scenario. Of course, my test was clear. I didn't have cancer, or anything else in my colon. But, the acceptance remained and that was the beginning of my recovery.

    This is the perfect time to practice acceptance - now when you're scared - not when you get the all clear. If you can do it now, you're half-way there.

    It's not realistic to tell ourselves we're never going to get ill because that risk increases as we age. Part of living is accepting this.

    It's also about choosing our attitudes when we do become ill.

    HA controlled my life for a years - decades - but I got there in the end and it's all down to acceptance.

    All the best for Friday. X
    __________________
    There is a light. There is. Look for it. Look for it shining over your shoulder, on the past. It was light where you went once. It is light where you are now. It will be light where you will go again. ~ Jennifer Worth

  6. #6
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    Re: Panicking about breast clinic referral and other scenarios. Can't sleep.

    Thank you for your replies folks. I'm actually feeling a lot better than I was when I wrote the post 3 weeks ago, as I've talked myself round and made sure of sleeping by upping my medication a bit, and if I can sleep then that's a huge way towards reducing the worry. Also the pain has reduced considerably and I realise that if I'm busily occupied and enjoying myself then it disappears altogether.

    My worst HA period was actually nearly 40 years ago, when I got into a complete tailspin of panic about cancer in general and breast cancer in particular, but I had good mental health treatment and medication, which I eventually came off altogether. I had other episodes after that but never so badly, and I have been okay for years. Then it suddenly reared its ugly head again. But I can deal with it, can't I? I've done it before.

  7. #7
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    Re: Panicking about breast clinic referral and other scenarios. Can't sleep.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coppernob View Post
    Thank you for your replies folks. I'm actually feeling a lot better than I was when I wrote the post 3 weeks ago, as I've talked myself round and made sure of sleeping by upping my medication a bit, and if I can sleep then that's a huge way towards reducing the worry. Also the pain has reduced considerably and I realise that if I'm busily occupied and enjoying myself then it disappears altogether.
    Awesome. Really great to hear that you're trying to help yourself.

    My worst HA period was actually nearly 40 years ago, when I got into a complete tailspin of panic about cancer in general and breast cancer in particular, but I had good mental health treatment and medication, which I eventually came off altogether. I had other episodes after that but never so badly, and I have been okay for years. Then it suddenly reared its ugly head again. But I can deal with it, can't I? I've done it before.
    I always say that the potential for HA to try and sneak back in is always there with naturally anxious people. It will always try to mess with our minds again. Except that, this time, we know what to do. We know that fear makes HA stronger - it gives the bugger power - so we don't add fear to our thoughts. We acknowledge them, because there's no point in pretending we're not having them, but we don't respond with fear. Once acknowledged, we carry on with our day and HA is all sad because we're not giving it the dramatics, you get me?

    It's like when a toddler is having a tantrum. You don't give into the little tyke's demands do you? But in totally shitting ourselves, we are giving HA exactly what it wants.

    It's not so much having these thoughts that is the problem - on the contrary - our negative bias (which is there to keep us alive) means that these thoughts are pretty normal - it's just that, when we add fear to them we create symptoms which we interpret as 'proof' that there really is something seriously wrong with us - when in reality - the symptoms are down to the stress response.

    Control of HA is in how we respond to the thoughts when they come, and the best response is rationalise, re-frame and accept.

    How are you feeling now the appointment is almost here?
    __________________
    There is a light. There is. Look for it. Look for it shining over your shoulder, on the past. It was light where you went once. It is light where you are now. It will be light where you will go again. ~ Jennifer Worth

  8. #8
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    Re: Panicking about breast clinic referral and other scenarios. Can't sleep.

    I'm telling myself it will be an interesting experience! I'm more worried about trying to get there in time for a 9am appointment in the rush hour traffic.

  9. #9
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    Re: Panicking about breast clinic referral and other scenarios. Can't sleep.

    That will take your mind off any other health worries!!

    I really hope you get some good news tomorrow, Coppernob. Your attitude towards your fear is great and you've done really well coping with the wait for your appointment which is never easy. Please let us know how you get on and good luck with the appointment and with the journey there! I hope the traffic is light and lockdown-affected in a good way!

  10. #10
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    Re: Panicking about breast clinic referral and other scenarios. Can't sleep.

    Thinking of you.
    __________________
    There is a light. There is. Look for it. Look for it shining over your shoulder, on the past. It was light where you went once. It is light where you are now. It will be light where you will go again. ~ Jennifer Worth

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