This is a deeply personal blog. In it, I’m sharing an important health update, as well as some hard-earned tips for how to navigate the fear of medical tests and scan anxiety. Though this post is specific to my cancer journey, these tools can be applied to lots of other scary shit pickles. 🙂
A few months ago, I realized that I was overdue for my 2-year CAT scan, blood tests and visit with my oncologist. My first thought was: “Damn it! I don’t have time for this. I’m just too busy.” But I quickly realized that “I’m too busy” is an affirmation. It sends a message to my body that I’m not a priority, my health isn’t important and neither is my life. That message certainly isn’t in alignment with my love for myself or my health goals—I needed to flip the script, posthaste!
So I quickly reached for better thoughts by telling myself that my health and safety are my top priorities, and that nothing would get in the way of me taking care of myself. Then I made self-care accountability a topic on a recent Wellness Wednesday live broadcast. I asked for you to hold me accountable for making and going to these extremely important appointments.
Pssst… I also encouraged you to schedule any health check-ups you’ve been blowing off. Have you done that yet, dear one?
Something I didn’t share during that Wellness Wednesday is that I was very anxious about that appointment. Maybe my heightened emotions were influenced by the fear I have around my dad’s journey with pancreatic cancer and how helpless I feel at times. Or maybe it was because I’ve been feeling some new pains in my rib cage, which had me wondering if my disease had finally spread to my bones. Or perhaps it was that strange lump in my arm that was secretly freaking me the F out.
Or maybe it was that I’d just agreed to some exciting opportunities this fall, and in the back of my mind I was afraid that my disease had finally woken up and become aggressive. That would mean pressing pause and putting my full focus on my health—again.
As you can tell, there’s been a lot of uncertainty swirling around in my mind. While I’m skilled at staying grounded and not catastrophizing, these symptoms and fears put my practice to the test!
That’s the thing about being a cancer patient. Every little ache, pain or sneeze can send you into a tailspin of sweaty worry. And when that happens, we need tools to help diffuse those emotions before they totally take over and spread like a nasty contagion.
So here’s what I did to calm myself down, return to my center and connect with my heart.
When I got to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for my appointment (yes, the self-care accountability did help!), I hunkered down in the public bathroom (a spiffy place, by the way!) and did two things.
First, I looked in the mirror, stared deeply into my own green eyes and with all the compassion I could muster, I said:
“I love you. I’m here for you. Whatever happens, we’ve got this. We’ll figure it out. I’ve got your back and I always will. I love you.”
Deep breath… And another… And yet another.
I kept breathing and repeating those words over and over again until I could feel the butterflies (no, more like gassy dragons!) in my stomach calm down. And they did.
Second, I started to make a mental list of all the things that are right with me. Sure, I have dozens of tumors in my lungs and liver, a weird pain in my ribs and a strange lump in my arm, but there are so many parts of me that are working exceptionally—including those that are struggling. This simple exercise brought me back to a place of gratitude for all that is working in my life. And when you’re in gratitude, it’s harder to be in anxiety.
The next time you feel out of control or like the floor is about to fall out from under you, try these tips. They may seem hokey or woo-woo, but believe me, these little exercises are powerful soul medicine.
Ok, and now for the news: All is well. Cue the band!
The lump in my arm is a harmless fatty tumor, there’s nothing going on with my rib cage (looks like I pulled a muscle while using my favorite workout app—no further metastasis, I’m just out of shape, lol), and the tumors in my liver and lungs are still stable. Deep sigh… I’ve been living with this strange stage IV sarcoma for more years than I thought I would, and all truly is well.
But there’s more! My oncologist felt confident enough to suggest that I could come back in 3-5 years (I’ve been going every 2 years or more since getting diagnosed). What?! That’s like a lifetime to me. I never thought he’d say something like that or that I could experience that much time (and freedom) between hospital visits. Tears…
In his words, “we’re just thrilled.” After comparing 16 years of scans, the consensus is that even though I still have cancer, I’m well enough and it’s indolent enough to give me more breathing room—and I’ll gratefully take it.
Plus, I also learned that there’s a clinical trial underway for my disease (epithelioid hemangioendothelioma). The first of its kind. So that’s some potential progress for my rare sarcoma and all the patients who live with it—some of whom have a more aggressive form.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to share this news with you all, especially those of you who have followed my journey since the beginning. Though I don’t write about cancer as much as I used to, it’s still always in the background of my mind and it always will be. It continues to teach me, and I continue to define myself by my values, desires, goals and love—not cancer.
Join me on social!
I share simple ways you take impeccable care of yourself—body, mind and soul. Instagram and Facebook. I did a Wellness Wednesday episode on this topic and shared more tips for dealing with health anxiety—check out the replay here!
Thanks again for supporting me, friends. And don’t forget to make your well-being a priority. Book those doctor appointments and do whatever else you need to do. The world needs you (and so do I).
Peace & deep gratitude,
that’s amazing that you got such great news at Dana-Farber & you look beautiful standing next to your Oncologist. I’ll be at my new Breast Surgeon Oncology Specialist Dr Apt while your having your Podcast on Wed. I have the BRCA 2 mutation & I’m considering getting a double Mastectomy & having my ovaries & fallopian tubes removed. I had successful colon cancer surgery in March & at the same time I was diagnosed with follicular non-hodgkins lymphoma . Your post really is resonating with me-anxiety about some symptoms I’m having that are probably nothing & thinking about how cancer is now a constant in my life. Your outlook is so hopeful-I’m trying to be too Thanks for sharing so much on your blog.
Holding you in my heart, dear Helene. Lots of love to you!
I am so happy for you. I have been following you for some time, your courage, your smiling face. I remember the first time I read your book, and thought, vegan? No way!!! Ha! Been vegan for maybe three years now! Maybe more, lost count. You are one of my role models. Om. Namaste.
Love it! Your comment made my day, Cindy. Good for you. 🙂
That is really wonderful news Kris – really pleased for you – thank you for sharing your story and giving us so much hope and inspiration – I will make my appt now – after putting it off for so long – nothing is more important than health – so thank you for giving me the courage to face the future Best Wishes Bernice
Just SO happy for you, Kriss!
You are the most amazing role-model in this journey!
Thank you and many, many blessings,
Such fabulous news Kris! I love your self care affirmation that helped you through this anxious time. You and your lifestyle inspire me so much. Thank you for sharing your great news and all your wonderful “learnings” with us.
Having happy morning tears just so thankful for the good news and boy did the message you told yourself in the mirror slay me! Thank you for continuing to share your journey…you are a beautiful soul! XOXO
I’m so happy it resonated, Julie. Take my mirror message for a spin. 😉
Such wonderful news!!! And yes, i use some of your suggested strategies to manage my anxiety and wild imagination at every strange ache and fatty lump, and they actually do work wonders! Many blessings.
I’m so happy to hear that, Ellen! 🙂
Sharing your journey and knowledge has been so helpful to me . The cancer summit that you presented last fall was the best educational event I have ever “attended ” and has helped me live healthier…physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It was a wake up call.
Love your Wellness Wednesdays and look forward to all that you share.
Thanks so so much Cass! Creating the summit was one of my most favorite experiences. So happy it helped you and thrilled you’re tuning into Wellness Wednesdays. YAY!
Totally understand the anxiety that comes with each new pain! Thank you for sharing with us. You have been my Crazy Sexy Cancer guru, and I am so thrilled for the good report! Cheers to another 3-5 years!
Oh dear Kris, I’m so very happy for you…for me and so many more who look at you as one who keeps us alert, who gives with open generosity all the important information good for us, who, by showing vulnerability makes us stronger and ready to be honest about ourselves.
Sending so much love to you dear Kris ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Thank you dear Clara. 🙂
Love hearing your good news this morning! Very happy for you! Enjoy your day! Thank you for all of the smiles and sunshine you send out to me and others! ????????????
Congratulations! Such good news.
And I will finally plan that dentist check-up…I have such bad anxiety for the dentist. I know that this is not at all in the same league as what you and many others are going through.
But tips on dwaling with anxiety are really welcome. Also tips on dealing with stress or anxiety when a loved one has a chronic condition and regularly has checkups.
Fantastic, Maxime! I’m pretty terrified of the dentist, too. So I get it! Glad these tips helped, because your wonderful pearly whites need you. 🙂
I am SO happy for you, Kris!! Yay for you!! Thank you for sharing this story with us. That message you said to yourself in the mirror is so powerful. I had to read it twice (and I’m saving it so I can use it when I need it!). I can’t wait to listen to your Wellness Wednesday this week. I love your kind and beautiful heart so much!!
Kris. Congratulations on that visit and the fact that your illness is stable and you can return in more time and not less. I’m so inspired by your journey. I don’t shut up about you with my family, friends, and everyone who wants to talk about a serious illness. You have given hope and changed so many people’s lives including mine. Love you! Keep up the great work, Laura
I’m so happy for you! And thank you for your work in the world!
I am thrilled for you, that the cancer is being so passive for you. I am struggling a little more with mine. It’s still too new. Diagnosed with breast cancer in February, confirmed in March, operated in April. All that went fast and smooth but now I am struggling with the after effects. It was a small tumour, caught early and I have opted for a herbal regime instead of hormones or radiation follow up. My battle is absolutely about how did something so small get to take over my life. A herbal cocktail 3 times a day is manageable but it is the lack of energy and the fear of every new ache and pain that I am finding the most difficult. Are these just my regular aches or are they malevolent new comers. Your post today was helpful. Thank you. And thank you to all the other folks who have already commented on your post. It is reassuring to realize I am not the only one struggling with this fear of new aches and pains.
Dearest Lisa, you are not the only one. These fears are normal but they don’t have to rule our lives. Glad this was helpful and I’m holding you in my heart.
Fantastic news! You make me smile and keep me optimistic about life in general ?❤️ Keep on keeping on ?
Good Morning Kris!!!!! What a great news.
I’m sooo happy for you.. Also Thank you for reminding us to make that appointment..
Have a blessing day!!!
Kris – Gorgeous Girl – So happy to read your news. You are an inspiration and a guiding light.
Many thanks for sharing your personal stuff – and the lovely picture of you celebrating with a glass of wine in Boston?
With love, health and happiness always
Thank you dear Liz. It was a tasty glass indeed. 🙂