Thursday, 29 December 2011

Number Forty Six: ‘The Fear’

It’s a shame that your cancer diagnosis is not handed over with a wedge of bravery. I’m thinking along the lines of humble pie but with a more courageous filling. The thing is that even when the cancer is removed, treated, zapped and all precautions have been taken to avert its return ‘The Fear’ doesn’t go away. ‘The Fear’ lurks away in the back of your mind and rears its ugly head with every sniffle, yawn, cough, lump or bump you discover.

I speak from experience. Yesterday I had a mammogram and ultra-sound on a lump in my one remaining breast. Thankfully all tests were clear and I now have nothing to worry about. But ‘The Fear’ did cast a rather dark shadow over my Christmas. It’s amazing how easy it is to convince yourself of the worst… a little light Googling and you have a very scary self diagnosis indeed. I’d even go so far as to say that after reading that ‘lack of appetite’ was a symptom of cancer spreading I managed to convince myself I wasn’t hungry every single meal time.
I am so grateful that the breast clinic took my lump seriously and tested me thoroughly; I can honestly say that today I feel lighter and happier than I have in a long time. It’s amazing what a clear mammogram can do for the soul! My new worry is now though, I know ‘The Fear’ exists and I know that it will build up steam in between tests. Am I going to feel more and more anxious the further into the past my most recent mammogram becomes? After the first one, I never thought anyone would be telling me I’d look forward to a mammogram but the reassurance gained from a clear test sure is powerful! I guess I’ll have to find a way to control the ‘The Fear’- I can’t be knocking on the door of the breast clinic every time I feel tired. Although I will be knocking every time I feel a lump- no ignoring that symptom- cross my heart! 

As well as being reassured by a clear test result I’m also a little pleased with myself. You see, I’m a right blabber mouth, never could keep a secret but with the crappy timing of this recent lump slap bang in the middle of the festive period I set myself a challenge- would it be possible to keep this worry to myself? I thought I should spare my friends and family the worry if I could and now I’m really pleased I did because there was nothing to worry about anyway! They were all furious with me when I did confess- they thought I should have told them- a problem shared and all that, they’ve made me promise to confide in them in future and I will but this time I’m just glad that I didn’t worry too many people unnecessarily and proud that I proved to myself I can keep a secret after all!

Yesterday I was reassured not only by a clear result but also by my consultant telling me I have every right to freak out over potential symptoms- it’s perfectly normal to be overly worried after what I’ve been though and the vigilance that ‘The Fear’ provides may mean I find any future lumps sooner rather than later- who knows- maybe ‘The Fear’ has its uses?


  1. My counsellor said "Look at the fear with your eyes open, nod in acknowledgement, then choose to look at something else" It really helps on the dark days. Next time, tell me, I am here for you xx

  2. Glad the news was good. It's ok to be scared. Sometimes I think it takes more courage to be scared. xxx

  3. I'm so sorry that you had that awful fear hanging over you. It doesn't matter what the season. Believe me we all have that fear while we're waiting for results and you have even more reason to be nervous. I understand about not telling anyone. If I were to be in a similar situation I would want to keep it from my husband. Sounds extreme but he would find it really difficult to deal with and would not be able to 'live' until the results came through. That would make my waiting and fear even greater. I would look to my virtual friends I think.
    Have a wonderful New Year and a stonking 2012!xx

  4. So glad the news was good! Yaay! I think the fear is normal, the trick is to not let it over power every thing else. I'll let you know when I find the magical way to that. Happy New Year to you and yours.