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Health anxiety and TC, constant worrying

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  • Health anxiety and TC, constant worrying

    Hello everyone,

    First of I want to start of with the fact that around 1.5 years ago I’ve been diagnosed with a general anxiety disorder. Since then I’ve went to a psychiatrist which helped me a lot. Though one thing remains, which is my health anxiety. There have been times I thought I had a brain tumor, HIV stomach cancer etc. But every time I was perfectly healthy. Right now I’m worried sick that I have TC, after I saw a add on facebook about TC awareness my health anxiety kicked in and ever since I’ve become super aware of my testicles. How they feel, are they getting bigger, do they feel heavy etc. I had some discomfort near my groin which made me even panic more. I went to the doctor, without mentioning my fear of TC, and he did some tests and said I probably overloaded a muscle.

    Weeks went by and my fear remained, I was constantly checking my testicles to the point they were pretty sore, even though I would never find something. This scared me even more since pain in the testicles is a symptom according to google… A couple of times I thought I had found a lump but then I discovered about the epididymis. This was a relief at first but then it made me insecure about my own judgement. What if I’m wrong and I mistakenly assume it’s the epididymis?
    It was very hard to focus on my Uni courses so eventually I went to my doctor. I told him everything about my health anxiety and how I was extremely worried we talked a bit about it and he checked my testicles. He said he couldn’t find anything after checking.

    At first this was a huge relief, but after a while the doubting sneaked back in to my life. It made me super aware of my testicles again and every little discomfort made me worry again. For example, sometimes it feels like my left testicle feels a bit weird when I’m wearing kind of tight underwear and jeans. Mostly because my underwear tends to creep up on my left side, but still it worries me. Are there any people who relate to this? I feel so bad about it since it really keeps me down for no reason at all. Sometimes when I don’t think about it everything is fine but then that stupid doubt comes in my head again. The only fact that made me worry so much is that add I saw on facebook, prior to that I had no reason to fear about TC. And still I have no real symptoms, besides the slight discomfort I feel with my underwear. I’m perfectly healthy and have an active life.

    Thanks for reading this.

    Kind regards,
    Daniël, 22 years old

  • #2
    Hi Daniel,

    The good news is that TC is fairly rare. Over any lifetime only 1/400 people will get it. That means that the likelihood you will get it is very low. This also means that your mental energy is best placed into maintaining a healthy lifestyle, good eating habits, and exercise. The risks of cardiovascular disease and similar are what will get most of us in the end -- not TC.

    I can tell you that my TC was obvious -- it was a hard solid tumor that was only 1cm but felt like a green split pea was glued to my testicle. It was hard as a rock.

    The testicle should be smooth all over like a marble. In the back, there is the epididimys which feels like a soft spaghetti noodle.

    I think it's normal for all men to feel discomfort at times related to clothing or random motions.

    Check yourself once a month, no more than that. More than that can cause irritation and excess worry.
    Become familiar with yourself and if you feel anything abnormal or growing schedule a call or visit with your GP. If they suspect anything they will do a scrotal ultrasound -- which is easy and painless.

    People who have already had TC have a higher chance to get it in the other testicle -- so this community understands your anxiety and concerns.
    Age 31 - Portland, OR
    01NOV16- Pain in right testicle, palpable mass
    13NOV16- R I/O. Markers normal
    27NOV16- Stage Ia non-seminoma, 1.3cm, 100% EC, no LVI
    06DEC16 - CT scan clear
    09DEC16 - Started 1xBEP. Neutropenic at day 15; Worst part for me was bleo (allergic).
    03JAN17- Ended 1xBEP; start surveillance
    18MAR17-2nd pathology report shows 90% EC , 10% seminoma


    • #3
      Hi Daniel,

      You probably have pure OCD also called the "doubting disease". I am not aware of your other symptoms (and why you were diagnosed with general anxiety disorder) but those above clearly point to OCD.

      I recommend the writings from dr Philipson, for instance this one:

      The good news is that it is even more curable than testicular cancer.

      This is just a vicious circle - you feel general anxiety due to a malfunctioning amygdala. You then get a spike ("I have cancer"...) and you associate the feeling with the thought. This would be still ok - the problem starts with the physical and mental rituals, with the "compulsions" that you make in order to make the nervousness and pain go away. With the reassurance seeking. The more compulsions you do the less secure you will feel. You are aware of this by now..

      I have the feeling you came here for re-assurance that you dont have TC even though you were checked by two doctors....

      You need someone who is specialised in OCD.

      And believe me : Cancer is worse than OCD.

      Please dont think that I want to diagnose or judge you. I can easily relate to your issue easily as I have both TC and a mild OCD (different theme though..). So believe me: you are lucky to only have the better one.


      • #4
        Thank you both very much for your wise words, mcintoda and sanis!

        Mcintoda, thanks for your reality check on TC, for some reason I think that the slightest little pain or whatever is a symptom of it.

        Sanis, I have red a bit about the OCD and "doubting disease" and everything seems so familliar. Even how you explained it in your post is exactly how my mind works and reacts.
        And you're absolutely true about finding re-assurance. I'm constantly trying to find re-assurance, even in other aspects of my life I noticed this after it clicked. I'll bring this up at my next meeting with my psychiatrist.
        Thank you both for the reaction, this really helped me and means alot.
        I wish you both all the best and health in your lifes.

        Kind regards.


        • #5
          Sometimes these things get to you... To clear your head from worries, go to see your doctor. You'll get sent for testicular ultrasound and you will get a clear decision from that. If there's no lumps, you can rest safely. It's only a day or two all together, so might be worth for your peace of mind!
          July 2016 - Left I/O
          December 2016 - BEPx3
          All clear for 2.5 years now + new baby!

          Simplify Cancer: Man's Guide to Navigating the Everyday Reality of Cancer
          My Testicular Cancer Support Kit
          First Oncologist Visit Checklist
          Simplify Cancer Podcast