Bad anxiety after my nephew was diagnosed with leukemia last week

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I got the news Tuesday 2nd of feb that my nephew has Leukemia. He is 2 on feb 28th, so not very old.

The news hit me hard, but I had to step in and support my mum/dad/brother and most importantly my sister who was devastated. I think this made me put my own feelings on the back burner for a bit, so whilst they are now coming to terms and pushing forward with the next step, I am struggling to deal.

The worst aspect is that the anxiety is moving from subject to subject so I am struggling to keep it under control. At first it was just about my nephew and his condition, but it has since started to make me question everything leading to my mind running away with itself.

I am nauseous and that is stopping me from eating, then I am anxious that I am getting sick from not eating, and the cycle begins.


On Monday night I had a long chat with my dad and just spoke out all my fears while he listened and gave support (it helps that he went through a rough spell when his parents died when he was my age, and that he is partly disconnected from this tragedy as my sister is not my dads). This was a real help and I felt hungry after and ate.

The next day (yesterday) I was really good. I got up, I had some breakfast (fruit and fibre), and went to work feeling strong to deal with the day. This good mode went on with only a minor blip at lunch time.

When I came home my partner had made pancakes with bacon, scrambled eggs and maple syrup! It was delicious and I really wanted to eat it, it was such an amazing feeling, like being my normal self again.

I felt so good that I had no worries about my partner going out and visiting her parents and leaving me alone. I even went to bed alone without a worry!

Today has been totally different though. This morning I woke up with what felt like a full stomach, so I worried that I was going to stop eating, and that I would go back to how I was the day before. And of course, this is exactly what has happened!

I have contacted a therapist who is happy to see me, but she is pretty busy and cant see me as soon as I would like.

I thought a forum like this may help me as I may be able to get some support.

I feel like if I can get my eating under control I can stop worrying about my health.

My nephew is doing very well. The Leukemia was caught early and all his results from chemo are positive. He is laughing, playing, and doing so well.

I am not able to take much comfort in this though as I feel I am selfishly worrying about myself!

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    hey there..i know what you're going through..difference is that the news of you nephew really affectes you as for me the news of a complete stranger got me affected 8 months ago..and im still struggling with health anxiety due to just worried about my heart all the time and my anxiety makes me feel sensations and feelinga which i makes me feel fearful..just like you i stopped eating for at least 2 months with exception of small snacks here and there and lost alot of much better now dont're will get over is to not worry too much..if yourr hungry eat..not hungry dont..dont beat up yourself over why your not hungry and loosing normal to feel this way when we're not in the right state of relax..and everything will fall into place again as per normal..
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    • Posted

      Hi Rahb01,

      Thank you for your comment. It is comforting to know that this will pass. Obviously my family are telling me the same, but it is not quite the same as hearing it from somebody who has struggled through a similar issue. There are a lot of helpful texts online that I have been reading, but at the same time you also come across a lot of people who have battled for 10 years plus and are still a work in progress. It's hard not to get caught up in that thought!

      When my anxeity hits hard it is truely awful, and the thought of 10 years of that feeling is not helpful at all.

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    • Posted

      ya i know what you going through the exact least you sound like you're convinced its anxiety..for me sometimes i still doubt the fact and listened to my head so its terrible..but we have to pull ourselves together..its daunting to know if this can go on for years but at tbe end of the day its all up to us to end it. if we continue to give in to our negative thoughts it will take a long stay positive is key..occupy your time with something active and happy..
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  • Posted

    Hi of course you will feel anxious all a shock for you .well done for taking steps to help yourself that's positive ,and talking to people to offload and share .you will be amazed just how much others understand,care about you and will get you thru, sharing is key. Your nephew is in good hands and yes early treatment good. You are not selfish to feel how u do it shows you are a good caring person. All the best.
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    • Posted

      Hi debi

      Thanks for your reply, it helped me last night to feel supported.

      It's hard not to feel selfish sometimes, especially given the condition of my nephew. But I am a caring person and my family are everything to me, so it is not surprising that news like this can throw me through a loop.

      In normal life you might have a breif thought about your parents dying, or you might worry breifly about your partner when they are doing something like driving in icy conditions, but you can dissmiss them just as quickly. When you get the news that your barely 2 year old nephew has leukemia, you start to think that bad things really can and do happen. Then when you next have a breif thought about losing your family you put a lot more stock in it, and it is harder to let it go.

      This is where I think my anxiety stems from.

      But I am much better today, and when I learn to boost my coping mechanism I can let go of my fear of possibly losing the people I care about.


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  • Posted

    After a tough day at work yesterday I did improve after reading some mindfulness tips and tricks which I put into practice on the drive home. By the time I got home I was feeling much better.

    Also my partner helped by cooking a meal composed of bits that could be picked at, rather than placing a plate of food in front of me. When you pick at the parts and don't feel obligated to eat a set amount, it becomes a whole lot easier!

    ​After eating I concentrated on enjoying my family.

    I had a nice long soak in the bath to ease my muscles and did some breathing excersizes before a little telly and bed. My partner asked part way through my bath if she could meet a friend in the pub across the road for a quick drink which would normally send me a little wobbly, but I was so calm and relaxed after my breathing excersize that I was fine with it.

    After a pretty good nights sleep (I did wake at 4:50 but was able to go back to sleep with no feeling of worry), I am quite positive today.

    I can see this forum being very helpful. Last night I was able to pass on a few tips that made me feel better to another user, and that made me feel really good!  

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    • Posted

      keep it up thats good news im happy for you..i guess you know how to relax yourself..just i hope i can get rid of the aches and pains and start feeling like 23 again..that would be really great..
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    • Posted

      Well it isn't always easy, and sometimes it just doesn't happen.

      I posted what I did in the bath last night in another post, I'll repost it here and maybe you can give it a try? I have tried lots of the exercises described online and I found them to be mostly useless for me, but I think you have to modify them a bit to find what works for you, and then actually 'believe' that it works. (if that makes any sense! lol)

      Here is what I did last night:

      I just had a long soak in the bath, not too hot, but not just warm. It helps take some of the tension out of my muscles.

      While soaking I try to focus on positive thoughts. When my brain tries to force a negative thought, I say in my head "Nope, that's rubbish! You are trying to make me worry about something I have no control over." And/or "Worrying will not make anything better, and it will not make anything worse it does precisely nothing!" Then I can swiftly move on to more positive and productive thoughts.

      Another thing I am doing is l sliding down into the bath with hands behind my head and my fingers interlinked. I put my head under the water so my ears fill with water (I wouldn't do this if you are meant to keep water out of your ears for any reason), I then spread my knees wide and put the soles of my feet together the best I can. For some reason this position feels good for me and allows me to let all my muscles go limp without me falling into a pile. While in this position I start to breathe deep (not with the chest if possible) and listen to the breath entering my body, (it sounds nice and loud when you have water in your ears!) keep it in but let it go slowly before it gets uncomfortable (it can be uncomfortable to hold it too long for me as my muscles are weak from tension and not eating much). As you keep doing this, concentrate as much as possible on the sound the breath makes as it enters and exits the body. I have found this to be very relaxing, and though it is not any kind of cure, it does give my body a break from the feeling of unregulated anxiety.

      I am no expert because I have only been going through this for a week, but this really helps me and maybe it will help you to. 

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  • Posted

    So it's been a few days since my last post. I went away over the weekend, a trip I planned for my partner and myself before I got my horrible news. Luckily I had managed to get my axiety under some sort of control before we left because I was worried about ruining it for my partner.

    The weekend was good. I rarely got anxious, and when I did it was fleeting. My apetite mostly returned, though I couldn't eat as much as usually would, I put this down to a bit of stomach shrinkage.

    They day we were to return home I started to have a few familiar feelings, but my partner has started to notice them and has been helping me to turn it around.

    I got some news from my mother last night, my nephew is still doing ok but has now stopped chemo while they investigate his bone marrow. They say it is likely that he will need a transplant, and that if they do not have a match in their database then his best hope is his unborn brother.

    The news has made me much more unsettled today, AFAIK this was all expected and is just another part of the process, but it doesn't stop it from being brought to the front of my mind where it is dwelling. I'm telling myself that I have no control over what happens, therefore being anxious about it is making no difference to the outcome, but I am still catching myself clmping my jaw and tightening my stomach. I feel right now like I am close to the edge, and just about stopping myself from sliding back to those days of last week where I couldn't eat, and couldn't control my feelings.

    I am taking some comfort in the fact that I know that this latest batch at least has a legitimate cause. Worrying about my nephew is natural, and it would be more concerning to not be worried about him. Luckily I am not yet feeling like there is something wrong with me, and I don't want to go there again! I remind myself that everybody deals with bad news in different ways, and that my way is not wrong, even though it does make things difficult for me and those around me.

    Anyway, back to thinking positive!  And if that doesn't settle me by the evening, then I will run a nice warm bath and practice my breathing to help me let go of these horrible feelings.

    I hope that anybody following this discussion is having a good day today. smile

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