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New Scans Are In: Three Years & Going Strong, Plus Thoughts on Stress


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It's been quiet here lately. I just wanted to share that my latest chest CT is stable, with no sign of nodules or new metastases. Yay Tagrisso!

I knew it would be a boring oncologist follow-up visit, so I planned to talk about stress and its impact on recurrence. I was volunteering in a high-stress environment, with traumatized kids. The doc told me that many of her patients who incorporated dietary changes, took up meditation, and exercised also did as much as they could to avoid stress, even going as far as changing jobs. She said the most important thing was to focus on doing what brings joy. In her eyes, my volunteer work seemed dark and difficult. She didn't tell me what to do, but she repeated the joy thing about 8 million times. While I regretfully stopped the volunteer job, I've found I'm really enjoying focusing on joy. 

I have done a little research on PTS (post-traumatic stress) and cancer survivors. One study reports on a a cellular mechanism that, under the right circumstances, can trigger a cascade effect that may result in reactivation of cancer cells. (Researchers emphasized this was one of what they think may be multiple pathways.)  Note that PTS is not the same thing as PTSD. And, the news about PTS is not all bad. According to a psycho-oncology report in Psychiatric Times, "post-cancer trauma symptoms may coexist with finding meaning, strengthened relationships, enhanced spirituality, bolstered sense of personal strength, and clearer life priorities." 

Hope you are all well.

 

 

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Karen,

First of all I'm thrilled to hear the good news on your exam.  I'm also very impressed with the information you shared regarding stress and its impact on our health.  It's a great topic and your points were spot on.

Lou

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I have joy for you, Karen!  Focusing on joy which is much different than focusing on happiness.  

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@Scruboak It's such an important distinction, yet so difficult to put into words. I've stared reading about it. It's amazing how many fields talk about joy, even outside of cancer and typical mental health sites. Yet, there are few actual descriptions of what it feels like, or what the experience is. 

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Sooo happy for you on good scans, Karen!  Great self-care on your part too in stopping the stressful volunteering.  There are likely other volunteer positions, even with kids in a different role, if you decide on something different down the road.  Important you take care of yourself which you're doing.  Thanks for sharing!

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Karen_L I understand what you’re saying. Joy can be elusive in a way that happiness is not. If joy is the fruit of the Spirit I can only hope to experience it when I let go of my own agenda. I struggle with this.

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