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Old 01-07-2016, 11:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Self-care is important: developing cancer while dealing with A


Hi, everyone. It's been a while. Long post here. so be forewarned.

You know how we say that stress "eats us up?" That it can be "a pain in the ass?" Well, looks like it was literal for me.

Three years ago I was in the throes of having an alcoholic husband, managing the college-application process with #1 son, managing the high-school audition process plus ongoing behavioral, emotional and situational crises of #2 son, and dealing with the ongoing, inexorable physical decline of my aged father and other crises of his and his wife's. Plus working full time and managing the home front. Today, RAH has been sober since his passing-out-behind-the-wheel event in mid-October 2013, and is happy in a job he loves for the past year. Older son is in his 2nd year at a fine university. Younger son is in 2nd year of a fine high school, and doing much better though he still requires a lot of attention and management for his ADHD and anxiety issues, as he has for the past eight or nine years. Aged father's home situation is being better managed by his wife now, though his health continues to decline.

But after noticing some strange symptoms last year, I was diagnosed in July with stage 1 rectal cancer. Out of the damn blue...so I thought. Doesn't run in the family. I eat all the right foods and none of the wrong ones. I was otherwise very healthy and fit, though overweight. Have had basically sedentary desk jobs for the past 30 years, and too much sitting is a big risk factor for distal colorectal cancers. But after the initial freaking out and thorough research, and rough but successful surgical treatment (two surgeries in three months this fall), it finally occurred to me: I have been eaten up with stress and worry over my closest loved ones for years...especially the past seven years. Eaten up. Cancer. I figure the damn stress contributed hugely to the literal pain in my ass.

So what have I learned? As my posse of dear friends told me when I was diagnosed, similarly as with living with an alcoholic, my responsibility was to take care of myself and my own needs above all else. What I really learned: Stressing over things I CANNOT CHANGE is not only useless, but harmful to my health and sanity.

A hell of a lesson, no? Please, dear readers, take this to heart!


Last edited by CatHair; 01-07-2016 at 11:11 PM. Reason: formatting
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Old 01-07-2016, 11:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Serenity now, dammit!
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Old 01-08-2016, 04:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi Cat

Yes, I agree. Stress does a number on the body. Glad to hear it was stage 1 and also glad to hear you are doing well and looking after yourself.

Take care of you and thank you for posting this as a reminder..
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Old 01-08-2016, 04:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Oh, man. Sorry about the cancer, glad to hear it's responding to treatment.

I'm a retired prosecutor and a few years ago I had a case involving horrific physical abuse (domestic violence). In between the plea and the sentencing, our victim was diagnosed with colon cancer. In her case it was fairly advanced, and required some pretty intense treatment. She believed she had overlooked her symptoms due to the stress of her whole situation, attributing a lot of it to the effects of the abuse.

I think that between the effects on the immune system that result from stress and the tendency to care for everyone BUT ourselves, we are, indeed, at elevated risk for all kinds of illnesses.

Thanks for sharing your story, and hope your recovery continues to go well.

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Old 01-08-2016, 05:00 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hi Cat. Thank you for the post - a good reminder to keep the focus on ourselves. Something which most of us don't do.

Keeping you in my thoughts and hoping your recovery goes well.
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Old 01-08-2016, 07:23 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thank you for your post-and I'm glad you are doing well and things will be ok. Yes, self care is the most important thing! If we don't take care of ourselves, we can't take care of anyone else! (The whole oxygen mask thing) I too dealt with awful physical symptoms over the years-stress did a number on my body. I abused it as well but focus on health and well being now and taking care of myself. I saw my ex mother in laws health decline rapidly - she had issues with everything-weight, internal organs, etc-most likely brought on by the stress of living with an abusive A-I wish she would have taken care of herself-put herself first for a change. Amyway, tangent....but I do understand your words. Our bodies aren't supposed to be living on adreneline day in and day out. It does hurt us-more than just emotiinally! Peace to you and just so happy you are ok!
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Old 01-08-2016, 09:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for posting Cathair!
Thinking of you... glad you're doing better and taking care of you!
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Old 01-08-2016, 09:27 AM   #8 (permalink)
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A great reminder of what stress does to your body.

I hope you continue to respond to treatment!
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Old 01-08-2016, 11:57 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thank you for reminding us of the damage daily stress does to a person. I bet every person here has been under this kind of sustained stress.

I read a great book on the subject, "When the Body Says No" by Gabor Mate. At the time I was trying get my brain to understand that I had developed shingles b/c of my AH screaming at me and just generally being an absolute terror mentally while withdrawing from pot. I didn't really need the book to tell me what was happening to me though. Of course, AH thought I had developed shingles from the "stress" of him threatening to leave! Not!

I will never allow myself, body and soul, to go through that kind of BS again!
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