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How I control fears about health, cancer and the virus

Monday, April 20, 2020

What a scary time we live in right now. Even if you are doing fine and staying healthy, fear and panic can almost overwhelm you at times.

Here's a simple but magical phrase I've been using to help me manage fears, not only during this time, but for the past few years.

Life is good until it's not. And right now it's fine.

How this works.

Last week, I celebrated the ten-year anniversary of having breast cancer surgery. The first year after the surgery was one of the toughest times I've even been through in my life.

After recovering from a double mastectomy, I started on a long-term medication that was supposed to decrease the risk of the cancer coming back. But the side effects were awful, and I felt miserable most of the time.

After about six months on that med, I went to a new doctor who switched me to Tamoxifen, an older but reliable medication. I was able to tolerate it just fine, and took it for the required five years.

These days, I am healthy and strong and I celebrate being a ten-year survivor. But every once in a while, the fear of cancer returning sneaks into my thoughts. When that happens, I draw on the same phrase that I use for life in general.

I am cancer free until I'm not. And right now, I'm doing great.

Every single time, this simple phrase works to chase my fears away. I'm using it for a lot of other fears as well.

A couple years ago, I made several trips to the emergency room for treatment of atrial fibrillation, a heart problem. Those were really scary times because I certainly didn't want my heart to stop working. Fortunately, I am now on a medication that controls it and I haven't had any problems for well over a year.

But once in a while...I wonder if it will happen again. Instead of letting that fear grow and take over my thoughts, I use the same phrase:

My heart works until it doesn't. And right now, it's working fine.

Fears about the virus

As my husband and I continue to hunker down at home, there's certainly fears about getting the virus in spite of our careful efforts. We are certainly aware that the number of people who are ill with it or have died from it keeps growing. And fear starts to creep in. When it does, we simply remind each other to use the magic phrase:

I am healthy (and virus-free) until I'm not. And right now, I am healthy!

This phrase has given me peace and strength during a time when it would be easy to crumble into a sea of worries and panic. Certainly, bad things could still happen to me or those I love. But living in fear won't change any of that one bit. So I choose to stay positive by reminding myself of that phrase in many areas of life. For example:

My family members are healthy until they are not. And right now, they are healthy.

My husband will have work until he doesn't. And right now, his online classes are going great, so he has work.

I will be able to write articles and books until I can't. And right now, I'm doing great with that.

My eyes will be fine until they are not. And right now, I can see really well.

You can create your own phrases for the fears and concerns that you are dealing with. Just use some variation of the words, XXX is fine until it is not. And right now it's fine.

For today, say this line over and over until you truly believe it:

Life is good until it's not. And today life is great.

If you like this approach and find it helpful, I would love to hear from you.
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