Hypomania

Freaking Out About Pancreatic Cancer. Please help!

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Hey everyone,

Been posting a lot lately about my fears of liver/pancreatic cancer, and my tests etc.

So, to keep the background short, I'm 32 yr old male, non-smoker, barely overweight, but eat very horribly. What set this whole panic off initially was receiving a call about slightly elevated ALT levels, which led me to believe my liver was full of tumors. Over the course of my obsessive googling, I came across a story of a guy who had pancreatic cancer, and his only symptoms were slightly elevated liver enzymes and severe fatigue. This cycle of pancreatic/liver cancer fear has been exhausting, and I just had a repeat blood test and an abdominal ultrasound to hopefully put my mind at ease. 

Both came back clear, including the imaging of my liver and pancreas. This should be enough to calm normal people down.

However, I read that US is not the preferred method of viewing the pancreas, and that small tumors can go unnoticed because it's so deep in the abdomen. I've also also had lighter brown stools that are kind of fluffy looking and float (I've had this in the past I think) and have been passing,once a day at most, a oval shaped yellowish object that is white inside and has a soft texture when cut open (I take generic effexor XR every morning). I also noticed today that one of my bowel movements looked like it had a slight oily film to it or something (I'm in such a rabbit hole that I'm studying my stools intensely now). I don't know what else to do now that my abdominal US was clear, or what else I can do to calm down.

Has anyone else suffered this before? I'm terrified that the oily film/soft oval shaped object and lighter brown stools are due to lots of fat not being absorbed, meaning that my pancreas is shutting down and cancerous. 

I know this might be far fetched given my age, but I'm panicking nonetheless

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Hyp;

When P-C tumors are small, and possibly not seen on an US they typically do not cause symptoms. Thats why this cancer has such a poor prognosis-it's typically silent until the tumor has grown large enough to wreak havoc. You have what you call symptoms which you believe are caused by such a diseaee. If that were correct, by definition the tumors would be sizeable enough to be caught on the US AND your repeat bloodwork would not now be normal. As others who have known people who had PC, certain liver/pancreatic related enzymes are way, way off.  Yours are now normal. Plus yes Hyp...you're 32 and the odds against that are beyond ultra rare.

Your BM issues are all explained by anxiety and how your digestive system is reacting to the stress you're placing it under. I've been there before, dissecting (figuratively and literally) bowel offerings. It tells you your anxiety is in a really bad place. You do need to let this go.  Let it Be..words of wisdom.

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1 hour ago, Bobnnat said:

Hyp;

When P-C tumors are small, and possibly not seen on an US they typically do not cause symptoms. Thats why this cancer has such a poor prognosis-it's typically silent until the tumor has grown large enough to wreak havoc. You have what you call symptoms which you believe are caused by such a diseaee. If that were correct, by definition the tumors would be sizeable enough to be caught on the US AND your repeat bloodwork would not now be normal. As others who have known people who had PC, certain liver/pancreatic related enzymes are way, way off.  Yours are now normal. Plus yes Hyp...you're 32 and the odds against that are beyond ultra rare.

Your BM issues are all explained by anxiety and how your digestive system is reacting to the stress you're placing it under. I've been there before, dissecting (figuratively and literally) bowel offerings. It tells you your anxiety is in a really bad place. You do need to let this go.  Let it Be..words of wisdom.

You're right, that's good advice, and a great Beatles song.

I just look into the stool issue and constantly inspect, doubting if I've seen similar things in the past etc etc and then ultimately determine that what I'm seeing is 100% oil caused by my pancreas no longer working. I very well could have seen that residue, or whatever it was, before, but in my mind right now it's a panic trigger and unequivocal evidence that I have pancan.

My anxiety is in a terrible place. No doubt about it. 

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1 hour ago, Hypomania said:

Has anyone else here had the pancan scare? How did you eventually get out of the cycle? I'm finding it tough

I was afraid your anxiety wasn't going to let you relax after your all clear.. I would re-read what Bob wrote over and over. You really need to let this go . You have been cleared. You are healthy. Everything is fine except your anxiety. 

I had the pancreatic fear about 3 years ago.  I went to the e.r. demanded a CT scan Bec I was having pain on the left side.  Dr said it sound muscular and guess what he was right and I was wrong! 

Your Dr is right and all your tests are right. Your mind is wrong. Let it go. Please. 

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9 hours ago, Holls said:

I was afraid your anxiety wasn't going to let you relax after your all clear.. I would re-read what Bob wrote over and over. You really need to let this go . You have been cleared. You are healthy. Everything is fine except your anxiety. 

I had the pancreatic fear about 3 years ago.  I went to the e.r. demanded a CT scan Bec I was having pain on the left side.  Dr said it sound muscular and guess what he was right and I was wrong! 

Your Dr is right and all your tests are right. Your mind is wrong. Let it go. Please. 

I know... it never used to be like this. I used to always trust any tests/doctors' reassurances, but now I always doubt them because I may find an exception somewhere online in a news article or a study (ie: ultrasounds possibly missing tumors smaller than 2cm).

Bob's advice helped. But doubt tends to creep back in, and I sometimes think, what if I'm the ultra rare case of a young person with this disease etc etc

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18 hours ago, Hypomania said:

However, I read that US is not the preferred method of viewing the pancreas, and that small tumors can go unnoticed because it's so deep in the abdomen.

You know things someone with HA should never know, and I suspect google is the culprit. Nothing you said is indicitave of any issue at all, honestly. 

Your anxiety is progressing, which is definitely what you need help with. I am going to go with the other board you and I both frequent.

You know how busy No More Panic is. There are tens of thousands of posts from as many posters. There are thousands of people on there, many with much worse symptoms than you. Out of those thousands and thousands of posters, 3 were right that they had something other than anxiety. Three individual people. And as an aside, none of them had anything life threatening, it just wasn't anxiety and they are all fine.

So there are 56,600 posts on the HA forum in NMP. Of those posters who wrote their worries on the wall, 3 were something other than anxiety. There are also countless posts about stool size and shape, texture and color. There are countless posts, some almost exactly like yours, detailing woes that the person feeling them was certain was PC. All anxiety. Every, single, one.

With that in mind, do you have a therapist or councilor etc, you can book an appointment with ASAP? See the person to help you through the condition that is really plaguing you, and that you really have.

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2 hours ago, Hypomania said:

I know... it never used to be like this. I used to always trust any tests/doctors' reassurances, but now I always doubt them because I may find an exception somewhere online in a news article or a study (ie: ultrasounds possibly missing tumors smaller than 2cm).

Bob's advice helped. But doubt tends to creep back in, and I sometimes think, what if I'm the ultra rare case of a young person with this disease etc etc

Hypo...I think you just answered your own question as to why you’re in the health anxiety spiral and can’t get out (as so many of us here are, as well).....you used to always trust your doctors reassurances, but now you FIND AN EXCEPTION ONLINE...!!!!   That my friend, appears to be at the root of our problems!  To put it simply, there’s too much darned information out there at our fingertips and is a breeding ground for our susceptible minds!  Believe me, I’ve been there, done that (as rececently as a few days ago lol) with finding obscure and scary information online and running with it.  All it takes is one little scary reference to plant the seed of doubt.  The bottom line is that we have to learn to refrain from googling these medical/health issues, as absolutely nothing good comes from it!  I remember the the “old fashioned days” lol when I’d have an ache or a pain, see my doctor, get reassurance and a prescription or whatever, and be done with it.  Case closed.  Now the tendency of so many of us is to immediately revert back to google to get that additional information...but we invariably end up seeing something that spikes our anxiety right back up.    You have been fully checked and tested and you should rest easy and put this fear out of your mind!   If it makes you feel better, maybe you can call your doctor and tell him or her about your health anxiety, how you unfortunately saw that reference to ultrasounds possibly missing small tumors, and I am sure he will tell you that he is completely confident that you are fine!!  And then....no more googling!!!!

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5 hours ago, lofwyr said:

do you have a therapist or councilor etc, you can book an appointment with ASAP? See the person to help you through the condition that is really plaguing you, and that you really have.

I do have a therapist who's helping me. I actually just started CBT training with her, but its extremely expensive (to me anyway) so I can only afford to go once or twice a month. In the meantime Fishman on NMP sent me some useful self help stuff the other night.

So, gross update for all concerned: the weird yellow orb thing isn't fat. It is my generic effexor pills. One came through me so fast this am that I actually ended up seeing the dosage printed on the side lol. Obviously that gives me some more reassurance that my pancreas is fine and digesting fats properly.

Obviously that doesn't stop me from staring at my stool colors and noting that they're a lighter brown than usual and really loose etc. 

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Sorry for bumping my old thread, but I think I just need someone to smack me upside the head.

So, I'm deep in the pancan rabbit hole still, and it seems like every time I am able to stop panicking over one "symptom" another pops up. 

So, even after a clear ultrasound, I'm still scared that it missed a pancreatic tumor, and for a while I was certain that I wasn't digesting fat. In my last post I realized that was I thought was fat, was actually my generic effexor xr pills.

I then thought that I had sudden onset diabetes because my pancreas failed, but my diabetes "symptoms" subsided. Then, I thought I was seeing an oily film after a bowel movement, but it turned out to be caused by my urine.

For a while I was relieved, then I noticed again that there was a bit of undigested white food in my stool, and I am back to thinking that my pancreas is no longer producing digestive enzymes, either because it's very damaged, or a tumor is blocking the duct that sends the enzymes to the intestines. 

How crazy is this fear? I sincerely think that I have a tumor that developed exactly where the end of the duct is, that is just big enough to halt digestion,but small enough to not be detected.

I woke up this morning on the verge of a panic attack over this. 

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If a tumor were small enough to be missed on ultrasound, it would not be large enough to cause symptoms.  There's a reason a lot of cancers, including pancreatic cancer, are so dangerous - they don't cause symptoms until the disease is advanced and hard to treat effectively.

If you have symptomatic cancer and the doctors do appropriate imaging tests, they will see said cancer.  

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Hypo, I’m smacking you upside the head (lovingly, of course!)!!  It’s just your anxiety and overactive mind that has latched onto the scary information you read, which is totally inapplicable to you!   Your anxiety wants you to stay focused on any tiny exception to the rule you may have seen, so that it can be fed and continue to have power over you.  You’ve had the “gold standard” scan of your pancreas and all of the appropriate bloodwork done, and you have been cleared!  I went through a period of time about two years ago where I had crazy looking and floating bowel movements for four months straight.  They were floating on a daily basis and were oily and sometimes frothy...so of course I googled and the pancan scare ignited in me!  I ran to a GI doctor who reassured me that our poops can change like that and mean nothing at all, and pancan would present with horrific pain across the mid back region.  Well...oddly enough, after I calmed myself down and relaxed, my poops slowly reverted to normal and have been fine ever since.  You are fine, my friend...take a deep breath and rest easy knowing you’ve been thoroughly checked and tested!!

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2 hours ago, mollyfin said:

If a tumor were small enough to be missed on ultrasound, it would not be large enough to cause symptoms.  There's a reason a lot of cancers, including pancreatic cancer, are so dangerous - they don't cause symptoms until the disease is advanced and hard to treat effectively.

If you have symptomatic cancer and the doctors do appropriate imaging tests, they will see said cancer.  

That's what conventional and rational wisdom says (it's called the "silent killer" for a reason). I, of course, think I'm always the exception to the rule, and the 1 case in a million.

2 hours ago, Missy2626 said:

Hypo, I’m smacking you upside the head (lovingly, of course!)!!  It’s just your anxiety and overactive mind that has latched onto the scary information you read, which is totally inapplicable to you!   Your anxiety wants you to stay focused on any tiny exception to the rule you may have seen, so that it can be fed and continue to have power over you. 

My mind is incredibly overactive. I tend to overthink everything, even outside of my anxiety

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18 minutes ago, Hypomania said:

That's what conventional and rational wisdom says (it's called the "silent killer" for a reason). I, of course, think I'm always the exception to the rule, and the 1 case in a million.

My mind is incredibly overactive. I tend to overthink everything, even outside of my anxiety

Hypo...I am totally and exactly that same way, and I am sure that most of our other friends here are as well!  We know all too well that overthinking leads to anxiety.  It’s such a terrible and difficult condition to have and I wish we all had a magic solution to make it go away.  Unfortunately I believe that it takes a lot of introspection and CBT to change these negative and overactive thought processes.   Going back to your pancan worry, if your doctor suspected even one iota that you could be one of those ultra rare exceptions to the scan results, believe me, he or she would definitely have sent you for further testing!  Our susceptible minds just grasp onto whatever little exception or piece of doubt we can find, and goes wild with it.  One of my other chronic worries is over skin cancer...I have something called sebaceous hyperplasia which is a common benign overgrowth of sebaceous glands that cause little bumps on my face that I’ve had my derm “zap off”.   Well about a year and a half ago I made the BIG mistake of googling and Dr. Google told me that sebaceous hyperplasia can be a marker for this “Muir Torre Syndrome” in which you’re predisposed to all sorts of cancers....turns out only like 200 cases of that syndrome have ever been diagnosed.  But guess what....I was convinced I had it, until I consulted with like ten online doctors and all of my real life doctors to tell me I did not.  Lesson learned on that one lol!!

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4 hours ago, Missy2626 said:

Hypo...I am totally and exactly that same way, and I am sure that most of our other friends here are as well!  We know all too well that overthinking leads to anxiety.  It’s such a terrible and difficult condition to have and I wish we all had a magic solution to make it go away.  Unfortunately I believe that it takes a lot of introspection and CBT to change these negative and overactive thought processes.   Going back to your pancan worry, if your doctor suspected even one iota that you could be one of those ultra rare exceptions to the scan results, believe me, he or she would definitely have sent you for further testing!  Our susceptible minds just grasp onto whatever little exception or piece of doubt we can find, and goes wild with it.  One of my other chronic worries is over skin cancer...I have something called sebaceous hyperplasia which is a common benign overgrowth of sebaceous glands that cause little bumps on my face that I’ve had my derm “zap off”.   Well about a year and a half ago I made the BIG mistake of googling and Dr. Google told me that sebaceous hyperplasia can be a marker for this “Muir Torre Syndrome” in which you’re predisposed to all sorts of cancers....turns out only like 200 cases of that syndrome have ever been diagnosed.  But guess what....I was convinced I had it, until I consulted with like ten online doctors and all of my real life doctors to tell me I did not.  Lesson learned on that one lol!!

I hear you on that. I'm currently in a mindset where almost everything will trigger my HA at the moment. No matter how many times I realize that my "symptoms" are not what I initially thought they were. It's exhausting. 

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1 hour ago, Hypomania said:

I hear you on that. I'm currently in a mindset where almost everything will trigger my HA at the moment. No matter how many times I realize that my "symptoms" are not what I initially thought they were. It's exhausting. 

 

1 hour ago, Hypomania said:

I hear you on that. I'm currently in a mindset where almost everything will trigger my HA at the moment. No matter how many times I realize that my "symptoms" are not what I initially thought they were. It's exhausting. 

Exhausting is an understatement!  It takes so mich energy and robs us of the wonderful things in life we should be focusing on.  And yes, there are certain periods in which I seem ultra sensitive to being triggered by something.  I guess it’s a matter of training our minds to go into more of a meditative state of relaxation and nothingness when we feel the health anxiety triggers around us.  You, i and everyone else here will all be fine!  Hugs Hypo!!

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13 hours ago, Missy2626 said:

 

Exhausting is an understatement!  It takes so mich energy and robs us of the wonderful things in life we should be focusing on.  And yes, there are certain periods in which I seem ultra sensitive to being triggered by something.  I guess it’s a matter of training our minds to go into more of a meditative state of relaxation and nothingness when we feel the health anxiety triggers around us.  You, i and everyone else here will all be fine!  Hugs Hypo!!

I try to go into a meditative state, but it's hard during periods of high anxiety.

For example, this morning I woke up trembling with fear, and tried to focus on my breathing etc. But the mind wanders back to the catastrophic thoughts. Maybe I need more practice 

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29 minutes ago, Hypomania said:

I try to go into a meditative state, but it's hard during periods of high anxiety.

For example, this morning I woke up trembling with fear, and tried to focus on my breathing etc. But the mind wanders back to the catastrophic thoughts. Maybe I need more practice 

Oh Hypo...I’m sending you some virtual hugs!! I know that exact feeling of waking up and shaking with fear...I’ve been there and done that many times.  It’s your poor body and mind transitioning from a state of slumber to its overactive thoughts and worries...high cortisol levels in the morning as well.  Believe me, the meditation thing is virtually impossible for me as well!  You’ve got to remember that you’ve been fully checked out and told point blank by your doctor that you do not have pancreatic cancer.  You know deep down that this is your mind being irrational in the health anxiety department, and it is just wanting to keep feeding off your fear of pancreatic cancer.  Have you (hopefully) been staying away from googling it?

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22 minutes ago, Missy2626 said:

Oh Hypo...I’m sending you some virtual hugs!! I know that exact feeling of waking up and shaking with fear...I’ve been there and done that many times.  It’s your poor body and mind transitioning from a state of slumber to its overactive thoughts and worries...high cortisol levels in the morning as well.  Believe me, the meditation thing is virtually impossible for me as well!  You’ve got to remember that you’ve been fully checked out and told point blank by your doctor that you do not have pancreatic cancer.  You know deep down that this is your mind being irrational in the health anxiety department, and it is just wanting to keep feeding off your fear of pancreatic cancer.  Have you (hopefully) been staying away from googling it?

It's so crazy, because I've been checked out, nothing was found, and I have none of the symptoms. Even the symptoms I "had" weren't really what I thought they were... yet I'm still worried about having pancan.

I don't know if I'm now stuck in a perpetual state of worry,just by the mere idea that I have it or will have it in the future.

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38 minutes ago, Missy2626 said:

 Have you (hopefully) been staying away from googling it?

Oh, just to add,I have actually been googling it, butI actually found some articles that are reassuring that I re-read if I need to. Not usually how google works in this situation, I know

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12 minutes ago, Hypomania said:

It's so crazy, because I've been checked out, nothing was found, and I have none of the symptoms. Even the symptoms I "had" weren't really what I thought they were... yet I'm still worried about having pancan.

I don't know if I'm now stuck in a perpetual state of worry,just by the mere idea that I have it or will have it in the future.

It is crazy and I’ve experienced that well...still not feeling total relief, even after being checking out and told we’re fine.  I guess that’s part and parcel of how health anxiety works....there’s really no rhyme or reason to it.  For just today, when the thoughts of pancan enter your mind, just let them flow in and right back out, and tell yourself that “all is fine, I’ve been thoroughly checked”.

 

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1 minute ago, Hypomania said:

Oh, just to add,I have actually been googling it, butI actually found some articles that are reassuring that I re-read if I need to. Not usually how google works in this situation, I know

Oh that’s good Hypo!  Just stop at that though and NO MORE googling, because you know all too well that you could be just a keystroke away from encountering a scary article or information on it!!

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Still can't shake the feeling that something's wrong. I've had this tightness in my right lower ribs for a month now. 

I only started noticing it after I initially got that call from the doctors office, and it hasn't gotten worse, but I cant stop thinking it's a tumor on my pancreas...

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From everything you know and what others on this board have told you, you know that if you had a tumor that was causing pain you would have so many other symptoms you would be rushing to the doc. Someone I know had PC and they lost weight SO quickly, couldn’t eat, yellow skin and eyes. It’s very obvious.

The thing about reassurance (re-reading the articles) is that it doesn’t last long. You get into a vicious cycle and pretty soon that reassurance doesn’t help anymore, you need more. You must accept that you do not have PC and as Missy said let the thoughts come and go. Don’t give them any weight, don’t judge them, just say “there’s that thought again” and move on. Practicing acceptance instead of practicing being reassured is a good step toward conquering the fear.

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On 11/14/2018 at 9:30 AM, Iugrad91 said:

From everything you know and what others on this board have told you, you know that if you had a tumor that was causing pain you would have so many other symptoms you would be rushing to the doc. Someone I know had PC and they lost weight SO quickly, couldn’t eat, yellow skin and eyes. It’s very obvious.

The thing about reassurance (re-reading the articles) is that it doesn’t last long. You get into a vicious cycle and pretty soon that reassurance doesn’t help anymore, you need more. You must accept that you do not have PC and as Missy said let the thoughts come and go. Don’t give them any weight, don’t judge them, just say “there’s that thought again” and move on. Practicing acceptance instead of practicing being reassured is a good step toward conquering the fear.

Hey Iugrad thanks for the advice. I've been trying to push the thoughts out, but it's difficult. My therapist gave a me a few interesting tools to try, which seem to help a bit, but CBT is a hard thing to master when you've been practicing so many bad HA habits your whole life.

It's true, I have none of the hallmark symptoms of PC, and what symptoms I thought I had turned out to be something else entirely. I'll remind myself of this, then I'll experience a fleeting dull pain on my abdomen somewhere and think "there it is, it's only a matter of time until this becomes constant and more severe"

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