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Feeling a Little Paranoid

Being paranoid becomes a part of life after cancer. I find myself spiraling with concern over the smallest things. I no longer worry over the little things in day to day life, but more about the things that might mean cancer again.

Is my itchy skin a sign of recurrence?

One of the symptoms that I didn’t realize was a symptom until I received my diagnosis was itchy skin. I had a place on the surface of my hand and another on my leg that itched like crazy. I kept telling myself I needed to get to a dermatologist, but life was busy, and I didn’t bother. If I had, maybe my diagnosis would have come sooner. Thankfully, it still came soon enough. If my leg starts to itch, I fear that cancer is growing inside me again.

Are these swollen lymph nodes from a cold or something more?

I got my first post-cancer cold, and my lymph nodes swelled, and my neck was sore. When I found the lump on my neck, it was a swollen node which led to my diagnosis. Any pain or swelling there causes me anxiety.

Does my cat know something I don’t?

Recently, my cat started sleeping in my bed again. The cat has been angry with me ever since we got our new puppy, freezing me out for months. The cat started climbing up and cuddling with me. When I was sick, especially during chemo, my friend would lie with me and comfort me. Pets are intuitive to our illness. While I am excited that he wants to be with me, my mind wanders. Does he know something I don’t know?

Being astutely aware of my health

I am not walking around on eggshells, but I am astutely aware of my health. My heightened awareness has me noticing every little thing. I saw a red spot on my face that turned out to be sunburn, but at first, I worried it was something more. If I get tired, I wonder if it could be fatigue or just chasing my kids around exhaustion. I fear that any would-be symptom could mean cancer.

Dealing with scanxiety

I have another scan tomorrow. I will always need to monitor my health with scans and blood work and look for symptoms. It becomes a way of life post-cancer. Even when you start to feel well, you never feel safe. It is like there is this looming threat hanging over your head.

Looking ahead to sunny days

Yet there is a sense of living that prevails. You walk ahead of the cloud and let the sunshine through the best you can each day. Even with the fear and anxiety and paranoia, the gift of life is so valued that you keep moving forward. Once you have walked through the storm, the sunny days are more precious.

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


  • Ann Harper moderator
    6 days ago

    @amber-lynch I agree that you always have to look toward sunny skies. There will be storms, but we must have something to look forward to. Thank you for sharing.

  • PattiAnn
    2 weeks ago

    This is so true. I am only 6 months out from a stem cell transplant for AML. I had anxiety over my 6 month bone marrow biopsy which was fine and yes every little symptom of what might be something has me thinking the worst, especially since I am a nurse and know too much, but I tell my anxiety to go away and go forward with living and appreciating all that I have.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Patti Ann thank you for your honesty; it just shows that anyone can become ill. Though you may know more than the average folk, it pays to try and tune off those “Truth” thoughts, as many times things go completely different than science speculates. Wishing you the very best!

  • Shayla.Oakes moderator
    2 weeks ago

    I completely understand you, @pattiann. I am a nurse too. We tend to overreact or not react enough. There is no middle ground. Please know that this community is here for you. Keep us posted on your journey if you feel comfortable doing so. Hugs, Shayla (, Team Member)

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    2 weeks ago

    @amber-lynch This is certainly an issue for those of us who have dealt with cancer. The scanxiety and other types of trepidation are pretty much a way of life from then on, I’ve found. It gets a little easier, for sure, but it is something we end up having to weave into the tapestry of our lives. Cancer survivors are tough, though. Great post. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

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