Cancer Made Me Paranoid

Yes, it did. Now, every new ache, pain, or twinge, has me scared that it’s more metastasis, or a weird side effect of chemo. No matter how much I tell myself it’s neither of those things, the thought still flits through my head. Headache? Must be brain metastasis. Backache? Must be metastasis to the bones. Stomachache? Well, you get the picture.

I think I have lost the ability to remember having those same aches/pains/twinges before I had chemo or cancer. It’s strange how our memory can play tricks on us. I wake up some mornings with my fingers asleep because of the position I was sleeping in, and then I get scared that it must be a side effect from the chemo. (One of the possible side effects is numbness of fingers or toes.) Of course, it’s gone within seconds of waking up and I know it has nothing to do with the chemo.

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. If I didn’t know all the possible side effects, or how fast lung cancer can metastasize, would I be this paranoid? Probably not. But I do know. It’s important to know the side effects that could be a major problem; but then I worry that major side effects may mean changing the chemo regimen again, and I wonder how many times we can do that before running out of options.

So in the meantime, with every new ache and pain and twinge, I take a deep breath, tell myself that all is well, and go about my day.


11 thoughts on “Cancer Made Me Paranoid

  1. Hi Ruth, I think you have developed the right attitude. I know it is important to stay on top of your symptoms, but it is also necessary to develop somewhat of an attitude of detachment, in order to relive the paranoia. Case in point: Back when I was a young girl, as in 8 or 9, I was a voracious reader, and read everything I could get my hands on. Once, at my grandmother’s house, I read an article in a women’s magazine that was aimed at helping women to become aware of breast cancer and learn the warning symptoms.

    Of course, my breasts had not yet developed, but I read the article and then attempted a breast self exam right there — all alone in my grandmother’s guest bedroom. I was able to palpate something — probably veins or something equally benign. But I became convinced that I had breast cancer, and that I was dying. I was too frightened to tell my parents, so I lived for months with the conviction that I was secretly ill.

    Eventually, when there was no progression of my imagined disease, I quit worrying.

    What a lot of trauma over what turned out to be nothing! I don’t wish that on you or anyone else!

    Take care!

  2. As my mother aged, she became a voracious reader of articles about health, and the number of diseases and conditions she just “knew” she was suffering from grew exponentially.

    Of course, she was aging, so there were quite real concerns, but sorting out the real from the unfounded could be quite a task. As she liked to say, “Even if I am paranoid, they might really be out to get me.” I couldn’t argue with that.

  3. I’m profoundly paranoid, have been most of my life, not just about medical stuff, but about everything…some of it is intuition, that I can see the “down-the-road” ripple effects of actions, which helped me in my job as a computer tech. But when it comes to health issue, it’s downright terrifying. I’ve had to learn “detachment”, because the paranoia would constantly take my breath away, steal all joy out of my life, and fill me with despair because there was no escape. Ironically, I rarely went to the doctor, because I was convinced I was a hypochondriac…until finally my doctor went ballistic on me and told me that sometimes my paranoia wasn’t paranoia but actual health issues and that I should check them out earlier than later, for both our sakes, lol.

    Anyway, I think it’s worse now with the plethora of information available on the Internet. It IS scary to read all that stuff, and no wonder it leaves us feeling like we’re constantly on death’s doorstep.

    I think you’ve got it under control though, even just being able to acknowledge it and write about it. But I’m going to put oil on the fire by echoing my doctor…sometimes paranoia ISN’T paranoia…if anything does worry you, sometimes it could be intuition kicking in…no harm in getting stuff checked out…

    I’m so rambly today…:)

  4. I understand, Sharon. I check in with my list of symptoms when I meet with a team member before chemo. There is a checklist to fill out every time. I know my ‘symptoms’ are not necessarily anything but ‘normal’ aches and pains that come with age. If my team thought they were something to worry about, they would do something as they have all along. 🙂

  5. My cancer was so minimal, and required no chemo or further treatment (for which I’m forever profoundly grateful). Even so, I experience that same paranoia. Whenever I get a new twinge or new sustained pain somewhere, that’s the first thing that flashes through my mind…oh no, is it back? Maybe we didn’t get it all? I no longer have a team to ask, and my current doctor doesn’t have much patience for such fear-mongering…so I’m working hard to not even “go there” anymore and just assume it’s normal aging stuff.

Ruth passed away from cancer. Please remove from list

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