I went for a chest x-ray today. I had requested it, telling my doctors about the ongoing ache in my chest and the cough that hasn’t gone away since I picked up my daughter’s most recent cold several weeks ago. I have never been the hypochondriac in the family (there are actually 2 of them) but I’m aware that I might be getting a bit hysterical about this. I’m gripped by fear that my cancer may have spread — specifically to my lungs. This fear is of course at least partly due to the symptoms, but I also think partly due to timing: I have just finished chemo and I want to know immediately if I am going to have to go back for more, before I let my defenses down and get too comfortable with the idea that it’s truly over. Then again, the fear of cancer spreading in my own body might have something to do with the news last week that not 1 but 3 people I know were diagnosed with cancer (lung, breast, esophagus/liver.) I am just reeling from the random unfairness of this disease. I’m also sure the oncologists have seen this kind of fear-response before. I spoke to my cancer shrink at the hospital today and he managed to make me feel not completely crazy (he’s really very good at that.) I’m behaving like someone who is going to be more attuned to alerts in her body – more likely to react with fear to certain symptoms – because, let’s face it, last time my body had something to tell me it ended up being a pretty big deal. The trick, according to my cancer shrink, is to try to keep it in perspective. His advice was to get my GP to vet my complaints: ask her to evaluate things that are genuinely worrying me in as fair a way as she always has. I’m lucky to have a GP who will be good at that – taking me seriously, but not indulging my fears. Being a good doctor, basically. I feel better already. But not as good as I’ll feel when the x-ray results come back and give me some concrete evidence – the good kind. Nothing like a bit of science to augment the psychological stuff.