Fear Factor

My life is a lot scarier these days than it used to be. If I get a weird pain or a suspicious spot on my skin – I can’t help but wonder – “is it Cancer?? Did it come back??” Things that I wouldn’t think twice about before my cancer diagnosis, can now send a wave of panic ripping through me. For example, I recently developed this strange clicking noise in my left ear. I mentioned it to my primary doctor, who x-rayed me and told me it was an inner ear infection and that antibiotics should clear right up. Well, they didn’t. It persisted and I eventually mentioned it to my Oncologist’s ARNP at one of my check ups. She prescribed me ear drops and said I might need to follow up with an ENT if they didn’t work. They didn’t. I was so busy going to all my other doctors and losing time at work that I just decided to deal with the strange sound in my ear. Of course, in the back of my mind I’m thinking crazy stuff, like- “what if it’s a brain tumor!” I mean, I have known people who went through cancer in one area of their body, only to have it pop up in their brain, so it wasn’t all that far-fetched, if you ask me. Again, I went to my primary, this time with a sinus infection, and mentioned the clicking in my ear to his ARNP. He gave me antibiotics again and said not to worry about an ENT. A few days after that, I was at another routine check up with my Oncologist and I mentioned the weird sound in my ear. After finding out that it had been going on for over a year and that I was getting frequent colds, she said, ” I bet you have a sinus polyp. Go get yourself an MRI and see an ENT.” Long story short, I had the MRI, I do have a polyp, I saw an ENT, he said the clicking is tinnitus and there’s not much to do about it and I don’t have a brain tumor. Whew. Anyway, I’m getting used to the fact that now fear is a permanent part of my post-cancer life. But I have to figure out how to live with that daily fear and not let it rule me. Actually, I’m a lot less fearful, overall, since I beat cancer. I don’t let the little things spook me as much as before because I know I’ve faced the scariest thing in my life and beaten it. But, fear of cancer coming back is a reality for me and, to avoid going bonkers, I need to use that fear to my advantage. I need to use it to motivate me to take care of myself and do all that I can to stay healthy. I just finished reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and a quote by one of the main characters really caught my attention :”fear doesn’t shut you down; it wakes you up.” Well, I’m wide awake now, thank you!  And trying hard every day not to let my fear shut me down.

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