Hypomania

Freaking Out About Pancreatic Cancer. Please help!

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You hit the nail on the head, Hypo. You’ve been practicing the bad habits for years, so it will take some time (not years though!) to practice the good habits to make them stick. Keep practicing the good habits as it doesn’t happen overnight, and even when you have them down you will need to refresh once in a while. A relapse here and there can happen so don’t give up if that happens! Keep practicing and eventually the good habits will replace the bad ones.

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OK, so I just wanted to share my most recent thought process over my current battle with pancreatic/liver cancer fears. Sorry, it's a little long winded, and might repeat a few things briefly. But maybe taking a similar approach could help someone else, maybe not, but I feel like I need to get this out here. This is a good example of how catastrophic thinking can occur with a bit of misinterpreted information from googling. Also, trigger warning for those reading in a panic right now, as I list some of the symptoms I thought I had etc. But hoping this may be helpful for those who are going through the same fears I am, and suffering the same "symptoms". 

I don't know why, but I find it so hard to let go of, even with the overwhelming evidence/odds in my favor. I'm guessing it's just a worry about cancer in general, or the fact that it has such a poor prognosis and is usually "silent". Or maybe, it's because there are some factors that I can't control that can lead to me catching this disease, no matter how many lifestyle changes I could make, and maybe, that leads to a deeper seated issue with fearing the consequences of things I can't control (this fits a trend with my other anxieties: fear of flying, highway driving with others behind the wheel, the safety of my immediate family in other areas, the health of others etc). I'm not 100% sure, but either way I wanted to get some takes on my current thoughts about why I don't have anything wrong with me (besides a persistent anxiety disorder, of course). 

Feel free to tell me if you think I'm insane, as I kind of felt like a conspiracy theorist connecting red yard together on a pressboard between unrelated events. Regardless, I went through this in my head many times yesterday and felt a bit closer to being at ease, and part of my reason for sharing this is maybe because I need to see it written down somewhere as a reminder. 

Anyway, here goes:

So, I've since had more lucid moments now that I'm on a slightly higher dose of Effexor (and also off those stupid tablets that I was shitting out), so I was able to think somewhat rationally. I've decided to take a facts based approach to my current cancer (probably my 5th or 6th since I started becoming anxious about my health when I was younger), and compare that to a timeline of what set off this current obsession, how it's progressed, and how it just doesn't make sense in light of the facts we all know as obsessive hypochondriacs who have spent unhealthy amounts of time researching signs, symptoms, and stories of pancreatic cancer (and many many other types). 

So, it all started with that call about a slightly elevated enzyme (my ALT was only a couple points above normal). I immediately made the jump to cancer, and began googling like crazy, and found that elevated enzymes can sometimes be indicative of malignancy (despite the fact that my doctor said it would be much more elevated, and other enzymes would need to be elevated as well, to indicate something actually serious). Now, I'm all of the sudden feeling a "sensitivity", "fullness", or a "tightness" around the bottom of my right ribcage. I can now notice every time the fabric of my shirt brushes against that area, or if I suck my stomach in it feels different on that side. There's no pain, or even really what I'd describe as discomfort, but just an "awareness" of sensation. I'm now believing that my liver is swollen, which is causing this sensation, despite the sensation coincidentally popping up the day of getting the call from the doc. This sensation is getting worse as I start to constantly feel around this area, and try to dig my fingers under the ribcage to asses the size of my liver, which I'm obviously not trained to do. 

I'm now googling "liver enzymes cancer" constantly, despite reading everything there is to find about it. I then come across a story about a guy who had elevated liver enzymes but turned out to have pancreatic cancer. Despite the fact that my doctor has said that she's never ever heard of ANY INSTANCE of pancreatic cancer presenting with only a mildly elevated ALT level, I then make the unshakable link between my abnormal blood test result and having pancan (turns out, this guy had many other symptoms as well, and multiple elevated enzymes, but that didn't matter to me in my panicked state). Coming back from holiday, I read a story about a guy who had diarrhea, jaundice, itching, etc etc and think: "I had diarrhea on my flight home... this can't be a coincidence!" Despite the fact that I was recently in a third world country practicing poor hygiene, and again, didn't display any hallmark symptoms. Nonetheless, I'm now thinking that I must have late stage pancan, with a spread to the liver. It's the only thing that makes sense!

When I'm home, I immediately go to the doc and ask for a read of the full blood panel. Nothing is amiss besides the ALT, and she reiterates it's nothing to be concerned about. She says that she anticipates a re-test would show the level dropping to normal. I tell her I'm worried about liver cancer. She looks confused and explains that I don't have that. I then ask about pancan, she again looks confused and tells me that no one has EVER presented with only elevated ALT. She orders an ultrasound and repeat blood test to prove to me I'm fine. I agree to them both knowing that I'll likely be satisfied for the very short term. 

Both are clear: the US showed no abnormalities in the liver or pancreas, and my ALT levels are back to normal. I tell the doc about how I'm seeing small yellow orbs in my stool, she says "it's probably fat, it'll pass". Joy that lasted all but a day. Now I'm convinced that the US missed my pancreas, and I have a small tumor that the US couldn't see, obviously causing my pancreas to stop digesting fats. 

As the days go on, I'm convinced that I'm losing weight, have no appetite, constantly checking my eyes for jaundice, checking my stools for oil/undigested foods/consistency/those weird balls, and those short lived dull pains that come and go in my body/abdomen are referred pain from a pancreatic tumor. I even think that when I get bloated after eating like garbage (when I do decide to eat) that the "tumor" has invaded my small intestine and blocked it off, not allowing food to go through. When I feel the pain I'm constantly bending to test to see if it gets relieved, then I'll lay down to see if it gets worse. As I gain access to a scale while visiting family and see that I have remained the same weight since August. I remember that my bilirubin is normal (making it impossible to have jaundice). My pains could be from many things, likely the fact that I've been a tense ball of stress for 2 months at this point, the least likely thing being pancan or a swollen liver (which was already shown to be normal size via US). I have no appetite because I'm anxious/depressed and don't feel like eating, despite the fact that I'm feeling very hungry. The "oil" I see in my stool is actually just normal urine, my stools are a little loose because I'm anxious as hell constantly, and the undigested food is just normal little bits here and there that we all get on occasion. The yellow balls turned out to be undigested Effexor. Despite this, I'm on a constant rollercoaster of thoughts like "oh, that's not what I thought it was, I'm fine, thank God", then to finding something new or recycled to worry about, "oh ****, that may not have been oil, but that's definitely a bit of food in there... obviously my pancreas is no longer working". 

I'm back to see another doctor about increasing my medication, because, A) I'm not sure if it's digesting properly, and B) if it is, I'm not sure if it's working as well as it used to, because this is one of the worst periods of anxiety I've ever suffered through. I also ask if the ultrasound is actually reliable. She flatly says yes, be reassured you're fine. 

That was roughly 2 months since I received that call about the ALT levels. All the while I have not developed any symptoms

So here are the facts that I use to talk myself off the ledge when I'm feeling worried about the above:

1) I'm 32. The average age of pancan diagnosis is 71. In Canada, they don't even have a statistic for new cases in my age group. In the UK there's less than 25 cases in my age group over the span of a 2 year period. In the US people in my age group account for 0.7% of new cases annually. 

2) The only time I've read about the association with elevated liver enzymes and pancan, is when it spreads to the liver. Also, MULTIPLE enzymes are elevated, not just ALT. Only my ALT was raised, very marginally, and has since gone back to normal. Something that wouldn't happen if I had untreated secondary liver cancer. 

3) My ultrasound was clear. Further showing no proof of malignancy, and rules out the possibility of a pancan spread to the liver.

4) My blood tests were also clear. This includes LFT, blood sugars, lipase and amalayse (digestive enzymes), CPC, etc. Though not always the case, pancan would likely have skewed some of these results... at least it would have if my pancreas were actually as damaged as I thought it was. 

5) Malabsorption occurs when either you're pancreas is 90% destroyed, or a tumor blocks the ducts. In either case, the malabsorption is very severe and has unmistakable symptoms, such as frequent frequent liquid diarrhea, weight loss, malnutrition, and possibly diabetes. I don't have them. 

6) (this is the one I find most convincing) Given that my blood was taken on Sept.29, it's probably safe to assume that IF I actually had pancan, the disease would have been in my system for quite a while, and in a late stage, as my liver enzyme count would have been a result from liver damage due to spreading. Knowing how quickly this awful disease moves, in the time period outlined above, I'd likely be very very sick by now, or at least would have developed a symptom in the almost 2 months I've been worried about this. I still have no jaundice, no severe pain of any kind, no fatigue, no nothing. From what I can tell, when these symptoms pop-up, they move quick, and don't chill out on your liver for a few months and then decide to attack. At least I hope they don't...

Anyway, I hope this post doesn't violate any rules or anything because it outlines some stuff I've googled, and I really hope no one was triggered by it. But I feel like I just needed to get this in writing as a form of therapy for me, and everyone here has been so helpful, so I wanted to share.

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I worry about it too. I swear I remember seeing an article that said soda could lead to PC. I didn’t read it and haven’t tried to find it again but I’ve cut back a lot (though not completely) but I brought this up in another group and a few people ridiculed me and basically said I was stupid for thinking that. So now I don’t know what to think. :(

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Wow Hyp! That sounds exactly what I go through in a panic state. Sick minds think alike 😬. It's good to write this out the way you did. If necessary, refer back to it. What you have done is actually some of what is taught in CBT, did you know that? Good job!

You SO don't have PC. I hope you finally believe it. I can only imagine what the past two months have been like for your loved ones. I know what it's been like for you; we all do on this site. 

Hyp it's time to move on. Do not allow yourself to regress. You are fine.

Bob

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2 hours ago, davide.h said:

I worry about it too. I swear I remember seeing an article that said soda could lead to PC. I didn’t read it and haven’t tried to find it again but I’ve cut back a lot (though not completely) but I brought this up in another group and a few people ridiculed me and basically said I was stupid for thinking that. So now I don’t know what to think. :(

Hmmm, that's the first time I heard that. I hope it's not true, I drink pop like a madman lol. But it's the same with anything processed eat, there's always an inherent risk, it's just incredibly remote. 

1 hour ago, Bobnnat said:

Wow Hyp! That sounds exactly what I go through in a panic state. Sick minds think alike 😬. It's good to write this out the way you did. If necessary, refer back to it. What you have done is actually some of what is taught in CBT, did you know that? Good job!

You SO don't have PC. I hope you finally believe it. I can only imagine what the past two months have been like for your loved ones. I know what it's been like for you; we all do on this site. 

Hyp it's time to move on. Do not allow yourself to regress. You are fine.

Bob

Thanks man. I actually didn't know that, but given the direction I sense my therapist is going, I had a feeling this exercise may have been similar.

The past two months have been brutal. I really think I'm almost out of this, but im still at a stage where there's a little bit of doubt. Like every time I feel a little dull pain pop up somewhere around my stomach I'll immediately get reminded of my state of worry and need to refer back to something like this get me back on the right path again.

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Hypo,

Wow, you sound a lot like me, slightly differing symptoms.  I'm 40.  have had some pretty 'obviously' muscle pains, left costal margin, shoulder, etc, that I can feel when I tense and flex the muscles.   Nope, its gotta be my pancreas, silly-me thinks.  Despite my age, despite normal weight, despite never smoking, despite just having had a checkup and perfect liver panel and other bloods.  Despite no oily stool, weight loss, jaundice, pruritis, or crippling pain all the time.  I sleep fine, everything relaxes when I lay down. 

No, I check to make sure I'm not losing weight.  Does the pain go away when I lean forward?  Doctor Google's sound, solid advice.

I have a cold too now.  Green phelgm (TMI, sorry)  Oh and some red in there.  As usually happens to me.  Oh no, is it from my lungs or my irritated nasal cavity?!?!  No, the stuff I cough up is just green or clear.   My lungs arent bleeding.  But my mind went there, for just an instant. 

I know your mindset because I've lived it.  My low white blood count last year, which was nothing, took me into HOURS of researching MDS, leukemias, etc.  All wasted, none of it warranted.  I'm on 5mg of escitalopram every day, and it helps a lot, even that little amount. 

Anyway, hang in there, keep on livin and finding stuff to love to do.  Control what needs to be and what you can, and let go of the rest.  And be Thankful.

Happy Thankgiving

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12 hours ago, Hypomania said:

Hmmm, that's the first time I heard that. I hope it's not true, I drink pop like a madman lol. But it's the same with anything processed eat, there's always an inherent risk, it's just incredibly remote. 

Thanks man. I actually didn't know that, but given the direction I sense my therapist is going, I had a feeling this exercise may have been similar.

The past two months have been brutal. I really think I'm almost out of this, but im still at a stage where there's a little bit of doubt. Like every time I feel a little dull pain pop up somewhere around my stomach I'll immediately get reminded of my state of worry and need to refer back to something like this get me back on the right path again.

I hope so too, so I an finally stop worrying. In any case, I do drink a lot less these days. I also eat burgers or bacon as an occasional treat. Lots of fish though. 

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13 hours ago, AndrewF said:

Hypo,

Wow, you sound a lot like me, slightly differing symptoms.  I'm 40.  have had some pretty 'obviously' muscle pains, left costal margin, shoulder, etc, that I can feel when I tense and flex the muscles.   Nope, its gotta be my pancreas, silly-me thinks.  Despite my age, despite normal weight, despite never smoking, despite just having had a checkup and perfect liver panel and other bloods.  Despite no oily stool, weight loss, jaundice, pruritis, or crippling pain all the time.  I sleep fine, everything relaxes when I lay down. 

No, I check to make sure I'm not losing weight.  Does the pain go away when I lean forward?  Doctor Google's sound, solid advice.

I have a cold too now.  Green phelgm (TMI, sorry)  Oh and some red in there.  As usually happens to me.  Oh no, is it from my lungs or my irritated nasal cavity?!?!  No, the stuff I cough up is just green or clear.   My lungs arent bleeding.  But my mind went there, for just an instant. 

I know your mindset because I've lived it.  My low white blood count last year, which was nothing, took me into HOURS of researching MDS, leukemias, etc.  All wasted, none of it warranted.  I'm on 5mg of escitalopram every day, and it helps a lot, even that little amount. 

Anyway, hang in there, keep on livin and finding stuff to love to do.  Control what needs to be and what you can, and let go of the rest.  And be Thankful.

Happy Thankgiving

Yeah man, we sound a lot alike, and I'm sure lots of people here can relate.

I'm trying to hang in there man, but I'm not the best at managing my "what if" intrusive thoughts when they pop up.

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WHAT IF a jet airplane crashes on your house and you die?  That happened in the county I live a few years ago.  Woman at home with 2 of her kids.  Crazy stuff.  

WHAT IF...  that romaine lettuce you ate makes you sick enough to die ?  

I totally get the intrusive thoughts thing.  What helps ME is to remember there are a lot more likely things that I dont seem to think about at all.  When I have a concern my kids could get sick with something incurable and deadly, I remmeber that about 10 kids a DAY drown to death in the US in non-boating-related drownings.  A DAY.  ALL preventable.  So, just by keeping my kids from drowning, I'm actually reducing a much more likely cause of death than (for instance) some CNS tumor that kills 1/10th as many people.

Do what you can to take preventative steps for a disease you are concerned about.  In your case:  Dont smoke, keep a healthy body weight, keep active, eat plenty of fruits and folate vegetables, and dont have a family history (....not much can be done about that one).  The point is, some day, 40 years from now statistically, if you DO contract such a disease, you can say "hey, I did all I could."  Also, by then....these things will be far more likely to be magaged as chronic diseases than as rapidly progressing fatal conditions.

You could go in for a body scan every single day.  To guarantee nothing nasty is growing itself onto your insides.  But then get run over by a dump truck while walking out of the scan shop! Unlike everything in that song, Alaniss, that actually would be ironic.

Try letting those thoughts pass instead of ruminating.  Acknowledge them for what they are, accept them as unknowns, and let something else take their place.....?

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1 hour ago, AndrewF said:

WHAT IF a jet airplane crashes on your house and you die?  That happened in the county I live a few years ago.  Woman at home with 2 of her kids.  Crazy stuff.  

WHAT IF...  that romaine lettuce you ate makes you sick enough to die ?  

I totally get the intrusive thoughts thing.  What helps ME is to remember there are a lot more likely things that I dont seem to think about at all.  When I have a concern my kids could get sick with something incurable and deadly, I remmeber that about 10 kids a DAY drown to death in the US in non-boating-related drownings.  A DAY.  ALL preventable.  So, just by keeping my kids from drowning, I'm actually reducing a much more likely cause of death than (for instance) some CNS tumor that kills 1/10th as many people.

Do what you can to take preventative steps for a disease you are concerned about.  In your case:  Dont smoke, keep a healthy body weight, keep active, eat plenty of fruits and folate vegetables, and dont have a family history (....not much can be done about that one).  The point is, some day, 40 years from now statistically, if you DO contract such a disease, you can say "hey, I did all I could."  Also, by then....these things will be far more likely to be magaged as chronic diseases than as rapidly progressing fatal conditions.

You could go in for a body scan every single day.  To guarantee nothing nasty is growing itself onto your insides.  But then get run over by a dump truck while walking out of the scan shop! Unlike everything in that song, Alaniss, that actually would be ironic.

Try letting those thoughts pass instead of ruminating.  Acknowledge them for what they are, accept them as unknowns, and let something else take their place.....?

That's actually very sound advice. I think one of the things I need to come to terms with is uncertainty. Uncertainty always makes me nervous, and being somewhat uncertain that I'm not dying this instant keeps the loop going, no matter how rationally I map out my thoughts. And death, that's the most uncertain thing of all (besides the certainty that we'll all pass one day), and probably what makes me most anxious.

 

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Sorry to bump this old thread, but my worries still persist.

I've been really concerned about my pancreatic enzymes not working properly. Not much really leads me to believe this is occurring, but for the past week or so my stomach has started to feel really unsettled, and Iknow nausea can be a symptom of pancreatic enzyme failure. 

Now,to be fair, I've been constantly worried for two months, with very little breaks in my anxious episodes, and it's fair to say that this might be my worst period of HA to date. However, I've never really had nausea as an anxiety symptom before, at least not as far as I remember.

My nausea isnt intense, just feels kind of queasy or slightly unsettled. No vomiting or anything like that. This makes me think it may be anxiety. But I'm just wondering if any of you have experienced nausea as a new anxiety symptom after years of other anxiety symptoms?

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2 hours ago, Hypomania said:

Sorry to bump this old thread, but my worries still persist.

I've been really concerned about my pancreatic enzymes not working properly. Not much really leads me to believe this is occurring, but for the past week or so my stomach has started to feel really unsettled, and Iknow nausea can be a symptom of pancreatic enzyme failure. 

Now,to be fair, I've been constantly worried for two months, with very little breaks in my anxious episodes, and it's fair to say that this might be my worst period of HA to date. However, I've never really had nausea as an anxiety symptom before, at least not as far as I remember.

My nausea isnt intense, just feels kind of queasy or slightly unsettled. No vomiting or anything like that. This makes me think it may be anxiety. But I'm just wondering if any of you have experienced nausea as a new anxiety symptom after years of other anxiety symptoms?

Your pancreatic enzymes are working just fine???? Your Dr , blood test and ultrasound all have proven that. I think that talking this out with your therapist or getting a therapist or making an anxiety appt with your Dr to go over all these worries might be what you need to get help. I don't think anything we say will make you feel better. This is all anxiety and it's up to you to find what is going to work for you to move passed this. I'm sorry this worry is still with you. You have gotten very sound advice from your post and your Dr and tests as well. 

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16 hours ago, Holls said:

Your pancreatic enzymes are working just fine???? Your Dr , blood test and ultrasound all have proven that. I think that talking this out with your therapist or getting a therapist or making an anxiety appt with your Dr to go over all these worries might be what you need to get help. I don't think anything we say will make you feel better. This is all anxiety and it's up to you to find what is going to work for you to move passed this. I'm sorry this worry is still with you. You have gotten very sound advice from your post and your Dr and tests as well. 

Hi Holls, I know, but when I get in a state it's hard for me to distinguish what is being caused by anxiety and what is a genuine problem. 

I haven't really felt "sick" from anxiety before, and although I know the feeling is an anxiety symptom, and I'm obviously incredibly anxious, it matches a symptom of what I'm worried about, so it's contributing to a pretty awful spiral.

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1 hour ago, Hypomania said:

Hi Holls, I know, but when I get in a state it's hard for me to distinguish what is being caused by anxiety and what is a genuine problem. 

I haven't really felt "sick" from anxiety before, and although I know the feeling is an anxiety symptom, and I'm obviously incredibly anxious, it matches a symptom of what I'm worried about, so it's contributing to a pretty awful spiral.

I completely understand the anxiety circle :( but for me personally, Drs and tests shut down those thoughts. Anxiety can cause nausea but so can over focusing and waiting for symptoms to match your fears.. if the Dr and tests aren't comforting you.. what will help you? 

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My MIL had PC and she never experienced nausea... her first symptoms were not able to eat without feeling heavy in her stomach. Also she had piercing pain from her upper-belly/sternum to her back that would not go away. 

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7 hours ago, Holls said:

I completely understand the anxiety circle :( but for me personally, Drs and tests shut down those thoughts. Anxiety can cause nausea but so can over focusing and waiting for symptoms to match your fears.. if the Dr and tests aren't comforting you.. what will help you? 

I'm hoping a combo of time (given how aggressive and deadly this cancer is, I'll eventually have to accept that I'm fine... I hope) and therapy. I'm currently seeing a CBT therapist, but it's only twice a month due to the prohibitive cost of treatment. I guess for now I just have to push through the anxious thoughts.

7 hours ago, Leah1976 said:

My MIL had PC and she never experienced nausea... her first symptoms were not able to eat without feeling heavy in her stomach. Also she had piercing pain from her upper-belly/sternum to her back that would not go away. 

Sorry about your mother in law. By heavy, do you mean she would get bloated or full quickly?

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Just now, Hypomania said:

I'm hoping a combo of time (given how aggressive and deadly this cancer is, I'll eventually have to accept that I'm fine... I hope) and therapy. I'm currently seeing a CBT therapist, but it's only twice a month due to the prohibitive cost of treatment. I guess for now I just have to push through the anxious thoughts.

Sorry about your mother in law. By heavy, do you mean she would get bloated or full quickly?

yes full quickly, and the food didn't sit well with her. She didn't feel like eating at all. 

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Hi Hypomania,

I just posted a thread about my fear of pancreatic cancer and then was doing some looking around and found yours. Our fears sound pretty similar except that my symptoms are a little different, I'm suffering from indigestion, mid-abdominal discomfort and intermittent back pain. I haven't had any stool/urine problems or weight loss (maybe a few pounds since it started as I haven't been eating as much) and my ultrasound and blood tests came back normal. I've been feeling these symptoms for almost three months and have SEVERE health anxiety that I'm sure is affecting my symptoms but I'm still convinced it's PC. Your thread helped me, especially the post where you listed the reasons why it ISN'T cancer. Anyway, I know this thread is a bit older but I thought I'd post anyway, hope you have gotten some resolution for your symptoms.

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