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Friday, September 5, 2008

KuKd Word of the Week: CANCERNOIA

Greetings KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

Here's something interesting. The Journal of Social Work in End of Life and Palliative Care (I did not make that up) suggests that "maternal grief" following miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death can lead to - you guessed it - "fear of personal extinction!" Isn't that exciting? You can imagine how pleased I was to have my post-KuKd death-a-phobia deemed legitimate in a mighty Journal-of-Blah-Blah-Blah.

Which leads to this week's KuKd Word: CANCERNOIA - irriational fear of getting (and dying from) cancer. Given that cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S, and that "cancer is more curable when detected early," it's no wonder that some of us find ourselves running around trying to detect our own frustratingly vague cancer symptoms, which probably aren't even indicative of cancer, but could be. That's the problem.

Take some of the Mayo Clinic's stated symptoms of ovarian cancer, for example. Abdominal pressure and bloating (who hasn't felt this after a large steak dinner?). Urinary urgency (um, can we say, every morning?). Pelvic discomfort (chronic for me, but could be a symptom of a zillion other things). Gas (I heart beans! Enough said). Increased abdominal girth (no, my pre-knocked-up clothes still don't fit. Cancer?). Low back pain (been that way for a while, which is why I stuff a pillow behind my back while driving. Cancer?). Persistent lack of energy (yes, when I skip my 3pm cup of coffee. Coffee masking my cancer symptoms?).

For me, cancernoia hit me about two months after my first miscarriage. One day I was sitting around in our air conditioned house in Arkansas, Googling ways to escape Arkansas, when BAM - I noticed my hand felt tingly. And that made me look up what that could mean. And of course, in some cases, it can mean cancer. So that got me to start Google-Imaging "30 year old with cancer" to see what other people with cancer might look like, just on the off chance that they might look like ME, young and healthy and normal. And low and behold, some of them did. People just like me with cancer. Meaning I wasn't immune to getting it. Nooooooo!!!!!

Once I realized that it was within the realm of possibility that I could get cancer, I couldn't escape that notion, and I got scared. Like, absolutely terrified that I might have it, or could get it later, or that Kevin might get it.
Fear of my own "personal extinction." When I told a grief counselor about my cancernoia, she didn't immediately refer me back to my doctor to give me a full-body tumor scan. Instead, she gave me that look of "poor, neurotic Monica" and suggested that anxiety meds might be in order. I really hated having somebody suggested that I was crazy, just for acting crazy.

I will say that, as I said in my last post, my own cancernoia has subsided to a degree, but it's still there in case I ever get some spare time again to freak out about my own health. I think it's a good word to know.


sharonvw said...

Oh wow, so its a legitimate "symptom" of KuKd? I have it too Mon. W has to constantly tell me not to over react because EVERYTHING could relate to cancer or aids with me, despite the millions of tests proving otherwise. Since KuKd I also have serious control issues about my personal safety, so I've developed a totally over the top unnatural fear of flying and of being a passenger in a car.
Isn't it just awful living this way?

eggorchicken said...

I have the same thing, without the KuKd part of it - does that just make me plain crazy?

As long as I can remember I've had this completely irrational fear of me (or someone in my family) getting struck down by Leukemia. I don't know why, it just terrifies me. More than anything.

Glad your Cancernoia is under control at this stage - tips welcome ;)

Monica LeMoine said...

Tips? Ha ha! Wish I had some, Eggorchicken. Only tips I can offer are what a BOGS told me once: in my mind, try to separate reality from fantasy. Reality = no known cancer risk in the family, I'm "young" and odds are therefore slim, etc. You know, the odds are slim of a miscarriage and stillbirth one after the other, so don't talk to me about odds, lady!

Lisa from Pittsburgh said...

I didn't even think I had Cancernoia until I read last week's Time magazine article that detailed all the types of cancer, their symptoms, and treatment/prognosis. After reading I was sure I had cancer or was going to get it. DON'T rush out and buy that issue!

Then I remembered reading the medical handbook in PC (when there was nothing else to read) and thinking I had every deadly disease described therein.

So my tip would be don't read anything and spend all your time watching TV.... hmm, that doesn't sound right either....

Congrats on the article, Monica. You rock.

Viktoria said...

So many fears, so little time.
Cancerophobia or Carcinophobia- Fear of cancer
Monopathophobia- Fear of definite disease.

I found at least 3 words for fear of childbirth and 1 for pregnancy. Yikes! This drives me crazy (or crazier). What if it happens again? 37 weeks of healthy, kicking baby then... no heartbeat. If it happened again I think I really would shave my head and join a cult.

Thank you Monica for keeping this blog. I look forward to reading it every week.

LOL, this is just mean! Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia- Fear of long words.

And yes, I read the entire list of phobias. 8P

Monica LeMoine said...

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia- Fear of long words??? Holy Moly! I want a fear! I'd better look those up and find one that suits me. What fun!