We all have fears. Even those who say they are scared of nothing have fears. It’s part of human nature. Some people are scared of spiders, some are scared of heights, some are scared of small spaces and so on. Fear can cripple us from doing things and in some case can cause panic attacks and anxiety attacks. There are also fears that are just small concerns or worries that the mind magnifies into much worse. This often happens with people who have mental illness. Fears sometimes are more intense after going through such illnesses as cancer.
After reading my previous posts, you know I suffer from anxiety attacks and I’m a one-year survivor of breast cancer. These two mixed together can make my fears more intense. I belong to a breast cancer support group where many survivors talk about the fear of getting cancer again. I also have this fear.
For a month now I have noticed soreness in my nose. At first I thought I could just take care of it myself by spraying saline spray and nasal spray up my nostril. The problem is it didn’t get better, only worse. Wednesday I went to my family doctor.
She looked up each nostril with one of those lights they use. “You have a polyp in your right nostril. The left one is inflamed and I can’t see too far up.”
First thing that came out of my mouth was, “Is it cancerous?”
She typed something in her computer and looked up at me. “It’s probably not, but I want to set you up with an appointment with the Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist so they can have a better look at it.”
Shivers crawled up my back and my stomach twisted. I felt like I had just recieved awful news. My mind went crazy. I wanted to cry and scream. Instead I forced a smile and nodded my head.
What do you mean “probably”? You can’t say it’s probably not cancerous. I want you to tell me it’s definitely not cancerous. When they found my lump in my breast, they said “More often than not, the cyst are benign, but we have to do a biopsy to be sure.” It wasn’t benign. What if this polyp isn’t just a polyp? What if there is something in the inflamed nostril? What if I have cancer of the nose? Is cancer of the nose possible?
After the appointment my husband and I went to lunch and started our Christmas shopping. I tried to keep my mind distracted, but I couldn’t stop it. It just ran out of control.
What if I have cancer again? Last year I lost my breasts. What if this year I have to lose my nose? I’d look weird without a nose. I don’t want any more surgeries. I can’t go through another one. What if behind the inflammation is more cancer? What if this time I have to go through chemotherapy and get sick and lose my hair? I can’t lose anything else. I can’t go through cancer again. I can’t do it.
Later that night my husband and I sat at home. I confided in him that I was scared. He pulled me close and told me I will be fine. He is usually right. When I start worrying obesessively to the point my problems turns to a giant fear, my husband always reassures me everything will be fine, and he’s usually right. Everything always turns out for the good, but when my mind gets going, I can’t seem to stop it. My mind keeps making the problem bigger and bigger until I have an anxiety attack. It was doing it again with an inflamed nostril and a polyp. I started dry heaving.
That night I went to my breast cancer support group and listened to stories of cancer being found in other places. I became even more scared. When I came home that night, I messaged my friend. She told me polyps are not cancerous and I had nothing to worry about, but I was still frightened. She suggested I do something to keep my mind busy. I told her I planned on working on my book proposal, but I couldn’t focus.
She texted me. “Work on your proposal. It will distract you. Keep busy.”
So I pulled out my laptop and got to work on my proposal. I became so focused on editing that I almost forgot about my problem. After I was done editing it was time for what my friend and I call, “Date night.” She lives far away. We like the same television shows. We watch them at the same time and comment on them through text messages. We refer to the nights our shows are on as “date nights.” I found this relaxing. I was too busy watching SWAT and texting back and forth with my friend to think about my fear. The next morning I texted another friend who said her husband had polyps in his nose and was given a steroid spray that made them go away. She assured me I would be fine.
If your worries are turning something that maybe nothing into a fear you can’t escape, then try to distract yourself. Fight those worries and do something that will keep your mind busy. Do a craft, write in a journal, read a book, or talk to a friend. If you can take the focus off the problem, your body can find time to relax and your mind won’t have time to keep magnifying. You can fight fears caused by over thinking and worrying. Talk to your therapist about coping techniques.
The next morning after my doctor appointment, I got a call that my appointment with the Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist was set for this coming Wednesday at 8:30 am. Until then I will keep myself busy and I will fight the fears that rise up. When my mind starts to race, I will try to focus on something positive or talk with my support system. Fighting my thoughts and coping with my fears help me stay within the light.