Anxiety!: Hello, I don't post here often... - Melanoma Caregivers

Melanoma Caregivers

Anxiety!

Coragirl25
Coragirl25

Hello, I don't post here often because it seems to not be a very active forum. I usually post on the patients forum. I didn't think I should post my massive anxiety issue on the page where people are fighting for their lives. My husband started treatment with Opdivo about 3 months ago. He progressed from stage 3 to 4 in May. He has one lung tumor. We go to MD Anderson August second for his first scans since starting treatment and I am terrified! I am so afraid the immunotherapy isn't working, what if he has more tumors? I have an anxiety disorder and this has been so difficult for me. Do any of you have any advice on how to cope? I can't live on klonopin i have 3 kids at home. I feel alone in this.

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missyrand
missyrandAmbassador

Coragirl25,

I'm glad you have reached out to us and I get scanxiety.

For me, the most anxious times are in the run up to getting more data whether it is from test results or second opinion consultations. I've recently been running the gamut with both of these in my own life, but I'll post on that later.

Coragirl, what have you already been doing to help yourself? What has helped in the past when you have high anxiety (can be for any reason, not just living with melanoma)? Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to use those resources, and with diligence :)

Here is what I have been doing to address my anxiety, and perhaps others will chime in:

1. I try to write, sing, dance, be with people who bring me happiness and provide good distraction as much as possible. If I could draw or paint, I would do that, too.

2. I pray. For me this is talking/ writing/ questioning/ yelling/ reading at and about God. My God can take it and is imminently qualified to walk with me no matter how crazed, unbelieving, terrified or ungrateful/grateful I am. I try do this even when I can't feel at the time if it is helping or not.

3. I try to help someone else. Even if in a small way like writing an email, or sharing part of a meal, or driving a neighbor with me to the grocery when I'm going anyway. It takes me out of my crazed isolation of the hamster of anxiety spinning in the wheel.

4. I will read an engaging book or watch a funny sit com or movie. I can't tolerate the news these days. I'm too anxious and it makes me yell at the TV/ newspaper/ media. I'm careful on my social medias too.

5. I turn on ocean sounds or thunderstorm sounds, or piano/ flute instrumentals as background music because those soothe me.

6. I treat myself to nice soap or bath scrubs that smell really good.

7. I slowly drink a cup of Tulsi tea with half and half.

8. I swim and yell underwater.

9. I remind myself that as much as an information hog that I am, as much as I try to be informed and ask the important questions and sort through research data that this cancer is really not in my control to change or cure. And that sucks and sometimes I say that a lot. In fact I'll remind myself of that again: I love my husband. Melanoma sucks. We are all doing the best we can and are hoping for the best, but we will live with what comes, as it comes, because that is the choice he and I have made in how to respond and live with cancer.

10. I remind/ am reminded by my husband that it's ok to slow down. We say we are going to walk the Charleston stroll rather than the DC hurry up walk.

11. When my anxiety is really up I have to make lists, check them off, and try to stick to one thing at a time or I get super ADD-like and can't focus on anything and am distracted by all kinds of things that pop up in my way.

12. If I can afford it, I will sometimes get a massage or a pedicure. Something where I sit, it's just quiet for me, and someone else rubs out the anxious spots.

13. I pet my cat. A lot.

14. I cry. Sometimes a lot. Holding off and trying not to cry when it's overwhelming seems to make me not be able to move to the next stage where I become rational again. So sometimes I just get in the shower, or my car, or in my bedroom where my beloved is not and let the crying jag happen. I'm wiped out after, but usually the next day I can start thinking again.

15. I will practice singing with my band, because even if I feel crummy, after band practice we all always feel better.

16. I sing along to the radio/ CD's. Showtunes are a standard go to for me ;)

17. I will turn off all the lights, put on my sleeping mask and go to bed early.

18. I'll go to my monthly melanoma support group for patients/ caregivers and I might write via email one of the other members in-between for a sounding board or just to have someone else say, right, I'm thinking about you, too, and I get scanxiety, and when you know more then you can decide what to do next. In the meantime, try to settle down and focus on today.

19. I'll make a daily gratitude list and if it's too short I call my sister who will tell me what she is grateful for today and we will laugh. Or cry. Or both.

20. I'll make an appointment with our therapist, who specializes in working with folks with cancer.

21. I'll find a simple task with a beginning, middle and end so there is something I can control and see the immediate outcome of. Like cutting the grass, or this weekend I helped to paint my mother's new apartment.

I hope this helps. It has helped me to remind myself that there are a number of things I can do to help my own anxiety. I'm going to go home now and do my favorite thing, which is to cuddle with my hubby and breathe slowly into just being present with him.

Peace,

Missy

Thank you, I really appreciate all the tips. You sound like an amazing person! I do have things that sometimes take my mind off of cancer but before scans nothing works! I know you understand.

Thank you ,Coragirl, for bringing this important issue up. I am also extremely anxious about my son’s melanoma. He has a scan coming up soon and I can hardly get through the day .

In addition to MissyRands list, I use a lot on mindfulness techniques and try to stay busy .

missyrand
missyrandAmbassador
in reply to strawberryjam

Strawberryjam,

Can you share more about mindfulness and which techniques you find helpful? There are also websites that have printable and interactive handouts for these techniques. Are there ones you have found particularly helpful?

Here are two links we could consider:

pocketmindfulness.com/6-min...

mindfulnessexercises.com/ these have voice-led meditations of varying lengths.

missy

Thank you for responding, I am so sorry that you and your son are dealing with melanoma. I am going to look into mindfulness techniques. I will be praying for good results for your son and peace for you. I am surprised that there isn't more activity on this page. I feel as caregivers it is so important for us to connect. I will be posting here from now on. I sometimes feel uncomfortable posting my concerns on the patients page, they don't need my anxiety! Do you mind me asking how old is your son? What stage is he?

I used many sites but one really liked was Headspace because they have separate units on cancer, depression and anxiety . The exercises are shorter than most . Unfortunately it is not free. There are lots of free sites Mindfulness is worth a try

There is also an app called Calm . One of the real leaders of mindfulness is Jon Kabat-Zinn. mindfulnesscds.com. I have taken his courses and these exercise actually help reduce your stress hormones . you might check it out. Sending you prayers and best wishes .

missyrand
missyrandAmbassador
in reply to strawberryjam

strawberryjam,

checking in on you and how you are dealing with the outcome of your son's scans from recently?

missy

Thanks for asking . His scan looked good so I am appreciating and cherishing this news. I’m not sure if you ever feel safe again after a melanoma diagnosis but I think it is best to fully appreciate the positives.

missyrand
missyrandAmbassador
in reply to strawberryjam

We always take the good!

missyrand
missyrandAmbassador
in reply to Coragirl25

You make a good point.

Sometimes you have to embrace that this is just an awful time and you will get through it, but for now it's in a worse time for you.

I'm sorry you are struggling.

It is very anxiety producing and there is no way out of what is happening. You have to try not to look too far ahead and take one day at a time. I went through this with my son. I would lay awake at night worry, worry, worry... when I had to get up for work the next morning. Finally, I would just tell myself that all of the worrying in the world in not going to change the outcome whatever that may turn out to be. Recognizing that, and then telling myself that no matter how much I worried, I wasn't going to solve this problem tonight. You have to stop the worry Train at night. Things always look brighter in the light of day. I wish you and your husband the best.

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