Fear and Worry

Fear and Worry

After I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2009, I watched my white blood cell and lymphocyte counts quickly climb. But in mid-2013 they began to plateau. They continue to zig-zag up and down but on average they’re staying level. The leukemia has slowed down. So I’ve tended to ignore my disease and, though I still get tired, I’ve had days when I didn’t even think about my leukemia. I could pretend that my tiredness was just due to a lack of sleep.

Well, at least that used to be the case. Now, in addition to a personal blog about my life with leukemia, I’m doing a YouTube channel and writing for Blood-Cancer.com. Suddenly I find myself thinking about my disease nearly every day. Even when I’m not writing I’m still thinking and planning for the next article or video. It’s pretty much impossible to pretend anymore.

Me and Leuk

If you’ve read my past posts, you know I like to anthropomorphize my leukemia by calling it Leuk. I treat the disease as if it were a real person. This may sound a bit schizophrenic but it allows me to think of the leukemia as someone outside of myself instead of an invisible disease hiding within me. It gives me someone tangible to fight.

Now he is back at the front of my mind and he’s been nagging me.

Leuk has a sister and brother named Fear and Worry. I’ve not seen them for a long time but now, with the daily reminders my writing brings, they are back. I’ve written about Fear several times in my personal blog, always advising to not let her creep into our minds. Fear and her brother Worry work together trying to make us concentrate on our leukemia. If we let them in, they become powerful allies of Leuk’s.

I can’t say I’m overly afraid of dying, although that thought is always hovering in my mind. It’s the worries surrounding that. Will my wife be all right when I’m gone? What about our finances? How will it affect my children and grandchildren? These are the things Fear and Worry have brought back with them. Sure, I’ve considered these things before but now the worry is more constant.

Picking battles to win the war

I don’t intend to stop writing. I love writing. If I quit, I’d let Leuk win. You see, it’s not just a matter of battling a disease to stay alive. What really matters to me is not letting Leuk win the battle for my mind. I can’t let him become the center of my life. Some days he seems to be winning that battle. But individual battles can be won or lost as long as I win the war.

Worry is just Fear trying to be productive. But Worry isn’t productive. It only leads to despair. Whether or not Leuk takes my body, I will not let him become the master of my life. The writing will continue and hopefully Fear and Worry will take a hike.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


View Comments (12)
  • Denny
    7 days ago

    I read your articles Jim.I’ve had CLL for 4 years and my WBC count is slowly increasing.I do think about my cancer everyday but I try to out work it. I wear my orange choose hope (cancer sucks) braclet. I look at it quiet often and rotate it around. Worry is a big part of my life now fear not so much. We all are going to die someday of something but I certainly don’t want it to be cancer. I stay pretty active running my own insulation company and pretty much work at least 10 hours aday. I like to tournament fish so I really stay busy. I’ve seen people write that they are tired a lot I just look at it as I’m tired from work. Keep writing I’ll keep reading good luck, my next 6 month check up and CBC is coming up on the 23rd, for the last 4 years when I see my Dr. he tells me I’m boring, I really like hearing those words.

    1 week ago

    Well said. I blog, and blog posts sometimes but not always include a report of my AML fight. Blogging helps me keep my perspective. I am reminded by my blog of how many peaks and valleys there have been, and this reminder is calming.

  • Anthony Carrone moderator
    1 week ago

    Hi @rcgjr – If you ever want to blog on our site, we welcome you to post in our community story section 🙂 Here is the link: https://blood-cancer.com/stories/. Thanks for sharing and being a part of this community. Warmly, Anthony

  • rusty_vs_cll moderator
    1 month ago

    Great word anthropomorphize! I love how you call it Leuk. I’ve taken to calling my CLL Leuk also. Almost makes it sound nice.

  • Jim Smith author
    1 month ago

    Keyword being “almost”. Leuk’s like a visitor who won’t take the hint when it’s time to leave. The difference is I never invited him over in the first place.

  • bluchs
    1 month ago

    I agree with you completely, reading other peoples thoughts and experiences, who have a common problem.
    Is in fact very inspiring.
    It is a constant battle, some days, I think I am going to be OK.
    And others, I think, this is the end?

  • Nichola75
    1 month ago

    An amazing piece of writing and very inspiring. I agree, it is a constant battle and some days are worse than others. I find reading people’s blogs bring it to the front of my mind. However, it helps so much to read other people’s experiences and that relationship I find so important in winning that war X

  • Jim Smith author
    1 month ago

    Thanks for reading my post. Writing for this blog has given me a chance to meet others dealing with leukemia. Fighting Leuk alone can be a lonely sport. It’s good to know there are other soldiers out there.

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    1 month ago

    @jim-smith “worry is just fear trying to be productive.” Great line man, great line. That’s a perfect description of it and I’ve never quite heard it put that way before. Can I steal it? I’m gonna assume you said yes. Sweet! Ha ha. Great article. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Jim Smith author
    1 month ago

    Nope. That line’s all mine. Thanks for the compliment. Thanks too for reading my post.

  • bluchs
    1 month ago

    Jim Hi!
    Thank You for your thoughts here about Worry and Fear?
    I am not married, but I do worry about my son, grandchildren, and even my sons mother, my X-wife.
    I can’t help but to worry about how they are all suffering, because of my illness?
    I actually find myself more worried about them, than myself?
    I do fear dying, in some sense, I keep trying to beat this disease, with diet, exercise and Prayer.
    Although, there were times, mostly when I was in the hospital, that I actually, prayed for death to come, because I was loosing hope.
    It never did, so I guess my work here is not done yet.
    I do try to stay productive, I am still able to care for myself, which has not always been the case, with this disease?
    I actually think that this web site, and being able to read articles like yours, and being able to post some of my own opinions, and experiences, are in a sense, my way of being productive.
    This is my way of battling this head on, so I don’t despair?
    So perhaps I can win this war?
    So, just like you, writing down my thoughts, are helping Me, to Not Worry, and not fear what is ahead!

  • Jim Smith author
    1 month ago

    Hi Bluchs,

    You are right, your work is not done. It will never be done because you have a family to love. I know your time is shorter than you want but you can be assured that your son, grandchildren and your ex will be okay. Love transcends anything Leuk throws at us.

    Fight the good fight and grab on to the life you’ve been given.

    Take care.

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