August 02, 2015

Stress + anxiety = anxiety + stress

The past week has been filled with stress and anxiety, no matter how you look at it.

Gilda's Club Seattle asked, and I offered to give an interview when Mutual of Omaha's AHA Moment van was in Seattle on Tuesday. If you've not seen these commercials, check out the site. (I don't know when or if my interview will be broadcast, but will try to post if they tell me.)

At first I thought I'd talk about cancer. Then I thought I'd talk about my cousin E, who died last week at the age of 90+. I asked Rik to quickly email me a photo, since the email reminder said to bring something along. But they meant something to hold in my hand, not a digital image. Then I changed my mind again. Everyone has a loss to share. What would make E's death my AHA Moment more powerful than my living with metastatic cancer?

With Anna Gottlieb, founder and executive director of Gilda's Club Seattle
A gift from Mutual of Omaha - my very own clapboard
In the end I talked about my cancer, how long it had been in my life. Mostly I spoke about how my recent knowledge of the US government's lack of funding of all research into all metastatic cancers via the National Cancer Institute indicates how little the lives of our citizens seem to matter to our government. The interviewer didn't seem to care for this topic much, but I got very passionate about it. It was a bit of a stress-filled morning.

On Tuesday afternoon I saw my specialty dentist about the ache in my jaw and numbness in my chin. She took x-rays but nothing showed up, as nothing had shown up on the recent CT of the right side of my jaw. My anxiety continued to build, as this could mean anything from TMJ to increased activity in the BRONJ spot in my jaw, to more active brain mets. Or anything else. And it hurt to open my mouth and eat.

Thursday brought my weekly support group plus a visit with Dr G. The usual mixed bag of possibilities opened up yet again. Stress. Rik told Dr G he thinks I've been mixing up my conversation recently. I told Dr G about my issues with typos and not being able to think of the proper word in a sentence (I call this "my feeling stupid"). These symptoms, plus the mouth/jaw and chin pain, could indeed mean anything. Combined with the rise in my tumor markers, Dr G decided I should start Taxol within 24-48 hours, and schedule another brain MRI soon. I had a brain MRI on June 10th, which revealed nothing unusual. Dr G also said I should start raloxifine, an estrogen blocker which somehow I'd never had.

The terrible traffic for the stupid Seafair activities in town caused many of the patients scheduled before me to arrive late. Therefore we waited two and a half hours to see Dr G, spent an hour with him, walked over to the hospital to fill the scrip for raloxifine, and didn't get home until almost 7 pm.

More stress, more anxiety.

On Friday the Swedish Cancer Institute squeezed me in for my first dose of Taxol. I felt okay on Friday afternoon, but took a nap anyway. New drug, a nap is in order. I should get the Taxol once a week for three weeks, then take a week off. This lower dose also should be more tolerable.

On Saturday it was so very hot here that I took a five hour nap with the air conditioner. This was definitely the summer for such a purchase. I have a brain MRI scheduled for this week, as approved by my health insurance company. We'll see what that reveals. At least my jaw hurts less

Finally, today my dear friends D and C came over for brunch. While we were catching up with one another, I truly had an AHA moment: I realized that the stress and anxiety of the past week could easily have caused some of the symptoms I was so worried about. The typos, the conversational idiosyncrasies and worries about new pain might have all converged to cause me more worry and nervousness.

I actually have tolerated the Taxol very well so far, with minimal side effects except my naps. I hope this means that my trip to see my family on the east coast will come off as planned. Plus I hope this means less stress now that I have a plan. This who know me, know that I excel at planning.


  1. What a rollercoaster of treatments and adjustments. *Fingers crossed* that this one does the trick.

  2. Jill, you wrote: " I realized that the stress and anxiety of the past week could easily have caused some of the symptoms I was so worried about. "

    Typical Jill wisdom. Yes, a very possible syndrome. I trust your wisdom will show you also how to halt it in its tracks!
    I continue to hold you in my heart and thoughts and prayers dearest Jill.

  3. So sorry you're having such a tough time. We're looking forward to seeing you and meeting Rik next month.

  4. So sorry you're having such a tough time. We're looking forward to seeing you and meeting Rik next month.

  5. I just discovered your blog. I was diagnosed with mets to the bones in June, 2014. Since then I have been swimming lakes to raise awareness and funds for MBC with donations going to Metavivor. I will be swimming Lake Sammamish near Seattle on Aug. 16th at 9:00. Join me or find out more at

    1. Mary, I saw your KING 5 interview ( You've managed to do something that brings you joy AND raises awareness and money for metastatic breast cancer. Brava!