How Anxiety Affects the Bladder Cancer Community
The effects of cancer extend so much further than just the body. This disease can wreak absolute havoc on mental wellbeing. Anxiety, especially the nerves that arise prior to annual check-ups, can be debilitating if left unchecked.
The good news is that there are solutions to that anxiety.
Many of you are living in the solution, and you shared how on the BladderCancer.net page on Facebook. Here’s what you said.
"Realizing that my anxiety is normal”
Many who read Shirley Norris’ piece on the stress of the annual exam related to her anxiety, and that fact alone gave you peace. Too often, we get anxious about events that we can’t control — and then we stress about the fact that we are getting anxious. So then we have two causes for concern. Instead of doing this, we can allow ourselves to be anxious, and acknowledge that it is perfectly normal. Anyone and everyone feels nervous before going to the hospital. That’s OK. By allowing ourselves to feel our feelings, we can find a degree of peace with the overall situation.
“One of the most important “takeaways” for me is realizing that my anxiety is normal and I don’t have to feel I’m being weak or handling things badly.”
“The anxiety starts at least a month out and builds up to crisis stage the day before and day of.”
“The week or two before are the hardest for me.”
“Keep the mind active”
We all know that feeling. Anxiety snowballs if we let it. For some, deep breathing works to calm the nervous system. Others of you have turned to hobbies, chores and pastimes—from de-cluttering to ancestry researching—to distract yourself and give yourself an escape from the anxiety.
“As the time for my checkups looms closer what do I do? Double down on my short meditation practice, pamper myself, turn to cleaning and de-cluttering and cooking, and allow myself to be anxious knowing that this too shall pass!”
“I’ve just gotten into my ancestry. Keeps the mind active, also provides some humor. My ancestor did WHAT?”
“A different urologist makes all the difference in my comfort level”
For many, the right hospital staff can make all the difference between discomfort that lasts throughout the entire check-up, and an experience that’s much more bearable. Friendly, even. Some of you may not have the option to change doctors, but you can prepare for the hospital visit by bookending it with pleasant experiences before and after. If possible, budget time for something calming before the visit, such as a walk, a phone call with a loved one, or even a text to a friend to ask for emotional support. Afterward, meet up with a friend in person, if you can, or make a call, go to the movies, take a bath, or do whatever works for you to move yourself out of the energy of a hospital visit.
“I try not to think about it or I get anxious. My upcoming second cystoscopy (fifth one total) is with a different urologist, and that makes all the difference in my comfort level. She makes sure it’s painless. The other urologist didn’t care, which is why I switched.”
“I also realize how fortunate I am because I have not just family and friends that support me, but a caring and talented medical team.”
“Having any kind of cancer changes you spiritually”
For so many people experiencing pain or struggle, the ultimate comfort is a belief or faith in a higher power. Participation in an organized religion isn’t necessary. Even just taking a moment to appreciate that some force bigger than you created the lakes, the mountains, and the sky can have a calming effect on the mind and soul.
“I so totally surrender my illness with bladder cancer to God. I do not worry or get anxious at all.”
“Having any kind of cancer changes you not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually too—at least that’s been my experience.”
We want to say thank you to everyone who joined the conversation online about anxiety. We hear you, and we appreciate your willingness to share about your experiences to help the community at large. Thank you.