Ever since cancer came along, my reading list changed to include books talking about diet, exercise, mental health, breathing etc etc in order to ‘stay in remission’. I am not so naive to believe that these factors will keep me in remission and I am fully aware that cancer can rear its head no matter what I do; that’s the scariest part. One book delved into ‘intuition’ and how our body uses its intuition to know when something is wrong or right for us. I knew something was wrong with me pre diagnosis because I also had physical pain, signals telling me that something is wrong. The hard part was getting someone to acknowledge me and my concerns.
My question is, after cancer, how do we know what is intuition and what is paranoia? I will give you some examples; I had shoulder pain which was really quite painful, I had flash backs of the pains caused by the post op infection. I immediately started to worry that the cancer was back. My intuition told me not to worry it is fine. I emailed my oncologist, Adam and we did bloods and scans and I was OK but he said, I was right to check. Yesterday (23/7/2020) I went to do bloods as I had been feeling fatigued and with my vaccine coming up I wanted to check in with Adam. I didn’t know what to think if I am honest. I know I look and feel healthy but cancer has a way of inexplicably creeping into our bodies. He sent me the form and he requested bloods for kidney and liver function, iron, thyroid, full blood count and CEA tumour markers. Adam emailed me to say that all my results were normal, so why am I paranoid now?
CEA markers are what elevate if colon cancer is present, however other benign conditions can elevate them, such as infections (I had COVID in June). The normal CEA range for a non-smoker is <2.5 ug/L. My result came back as 2.0 ug/L. The reason I am worried is although they are in the normal range, they have slowly elevated since January 2021.
- 4th January 2021 – 1.5 ug/L
- 29th March 2021 – 1.7 ug/L
- 7th May 2021 – 1.8 ug/L
- 22nd July 2021 – 2.0 ug/L
So, of course, I replied to Adam with my concerns, this is where intuition and paranoia (at seeing figures) gets muddled! I have had a zillion conversations with myself, saying it’s nothing to worry about and then the other half of me is terrified that the markers may keep going up! Adam, as always, replied with practical information as well as an understanding for my mental health! He told me that because we don’t have any CEA markers from before cancer, it is hard to know where I normally sit at – it could be 2.4 ug/L and then go back down to 1.4 ug/L, but without that prior information, we are still learning. CEA markers can have minor fluctuations for several reasons, gastro/chest infections and yes, having Covid in June could contribute to them. He told me to not worry even though, he knows it is hard when you’ve had my condition and to try and forget about it! I am also due back in August for my routine scan and bloods anyway.
These are the fears behind the scenes, the fears that I do not always air on social media. I generally handle my anxiety fairly well but this has knocked me a bit. It is easier to say ‘All good!’ Then I realised, I am not shaking this paranoia off and really wanted to share my feelings. My intuition and the facts show ‘good’ bloods so why is my paranoia taking over my intuition that all seems well? It’s the wonderful world of irrational thoughts, courtesy of cancer! I think I know deep down, I am OK but there’s is always that tiny scared voice whispering, but what if it’s not.
I KNOW there are so many other people out there, feeling the same fucked up vibes with me, and this ‘journey’ is not for the faint hearted. Any tips welcome…. I do breathing (panting right now haha) and meditate so any other suggestions…. throw them my way!!
Love, Jojo xoxo