Health Anxiety - Is it Cancer?

When I'm working with someone with health anxiety, perhaps the biggest concern is that any physical symptom being experienced could be a sign of having cancer. And with so many references to cancer around us, it's perhaps no surprise that the anxiety heads in the direction of what is perceived to be the worst possible case.

In the last 24 hours alone, I've heard a cancer charity advert on the radio, seen a similar, watched a programme where a character had been diagnosed and heard about a relative receiving treatment. It can seem like it is all around us, impacting everywhere, and that is the fuel that anxiety needs to start imagining the worst.

And of course, 'Doctor Google' doesn't help here because just about any symptom 'could' be a sign of cancer. Of course, it could be a sign of something else or even nothing at all, yet those nagging thoughts continue to grow stronger and ramp up the panic. The internet just isn't that great at helping you to self-diagnose effectively. 

Once you calm the anxiety down (and ditch trying to be an online doctor), your thoughts become clearer, more logical and more reasoned. You can make better decisions about what you should do next.

Just recently I've had my own reasons to be thinking about cancer and my own future health.

Am I Carrying A Cancer Bomb?

Last week I received the news that I may have a rare hereditary cancer gene lurking about inside of me. A blood relative had received tests and had been told by the consultant that they had the gene and that relatives needed to be tested.

Naturally that led to looking at family history, which is pretty grim reading when it's written down in front of you. It looks like the sort of score line you might get if Man City or Liverpool took on your local pub's regulars in a cup game.

Despite this, you've got to keep in mind that most of those people grew up as part of the generation where smoking twenty plus cigarettes a day was the norm. 

If I'd have heard this news fifteen or so years ago, at the height of my anxiety, it's the sort of thing that would have lodged into my mind. As much as I would have tried, I would have found it creeping back in. All that catastrophising and thinking the worst would have crept into quiet moments, those moments where I wasn't 100% distracted and when I was really tired. I'd have probably started wondering if any physical ache or pain was a sign. It would have taken over my waking thoughts unless I could distract myself.

Anxiety is like a river: it flows into any possible perceived threat and keeps flowing on and on. 

But here's the thing, whether I have this rare gene or not actually makes no difference to today. As I said when I was told, I'm as healthy now as I was one minute ago before I knew anything about it. I'm pretty confident I'll be as equally healthy in five minutes from now (assuming none of those 'acts of god' occur like earthquakes and volcanoes that insurance people like to go on about).

After all, if I've had this unknown since birth, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to suddenly get all het up about it now. And even if I did, what exactly am I going to do about it? I can't exactly alter my genes can I?!

In my view, one of the most important capabilities we all need is to learn how to be mentally calm. That means we can view things as they actually are rather than getting lost in anxious distortions of what they might be. We can be more present and are more likely to make better decisions. It's a philosophy I seek to adhere to and that forms part of my work with a client overcoming anxiety. 

Or as the philosopher Epictetus put it,

The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own . . .”

Last week we had 'hell week' at the bootcamp I go to. That's a week where the intensity is upped even more than usual. It pushes you physically and mentally to the finish. So whether I have this gene or now, I'm as physically fit and active as I was at the last bootcamp I went to.  

To your health and happiness,

Dan Regan

Anxiety Hypnotherapy Ely & Newmarket

If you want help to overcome your anxiety then you can contact me today to arrange a complimentary discovery session. We'll meet, talk about your issues and goals, discuss how I work and can help you and answer all your questions so you can make the most informed decision for you: Appointments

And many people have found great value in using this hypnosis download to ease their anxiety and increase mental calmness to cope and handle life's challenges: Anxiety No More Hypnosis Download