Ghost Pains

photo of male holding right side of chest with a grimacing look
Cancer Ghost Pain in my liver

Cancer Ghost Pains are something that I really had to figure out what was going on after all my treatment as a new survivor.

These pains can be especially cruel, manifesting itself long past the point where they should have gone away and lingered for months afterward. It’s hard enough trying to get back into your normal life with cancer hanging over you constantly like an invisible specter- having Cancer Ghost pains makes things even more complicated.

I felt a sense of enlightenment when I realized the true power that my body possessed. It was not just some chemistry experiment to test and see if it would work, but rather something more transcendent than any one person could comprehend on their own. Because of this, you learn a lot about yourself. You learn a lot about your body and the different sensations you feel as it goes through its experience.

Hyper-awareness really is the best word for it because you are feeling a lot of different things. Feeling a lot of emotions, feeling a lot of physical feelings that are going on with your body. You end up becoming really concerned when you start feeling things that aren’t normal.

When I would end up having little pains going on my in my right side where my liver was was, this feeling made me concerned. I also had weird neck pains and soreness. These were the feelings that I couldn’t explain.

Doctors couldn’t understand

My doctor wasn’t sure how to help the pain I was feeling. Phantom pains can be very difficult because they’re not rooted in a physical injury or illness; no one really knows what causes them, but it’s possible that there is something causing my nerves to malfunction and cause me intense discomfort without being able to see why. Evan all my blood work looked good.

So for all these pains that I was feeling, it was very possible that I was manifesting these feelings in my subconscious. And that’s why I call them Ghost Pains. At the end of the day, they may not have been real.

At least It wasn’t debilitating for me. But it was enough to continue bringing concern into my head. Like, am I having another Reoccurrence? Are we going down this path again? And that was really a tough one to work through mentally. Because you’re never able to get over that and the next hurdle because you’re basically on guard. It makes you think, okay, is it coming back? What’s going on here?

A need to define “Ghost Pain”

There was a point where I needed to have some sort of a definition to this issue. That’s when I came up with Ghost Pains, and I’m sure a lot of you can relate. Maybe you’ve even thought of it yourself. And that was the best way for me to wrap my head around why I was feeling these weird and sometimes intense pains that were going on in my, in my chest, legs, arms and in my feet, for whatever reason.

Click above to listen on the go!

And by giving this a definition, I was able to start differentiating the kind of pains that I was feeling. Being able to assess how these pains were happening. Where they were, why, and when they were happening.

So by doing this,

I was able to figure out how this was going to affect the next steps. I was able to use these pains as a way to figure out if they were really legitimate or not. A huge majority, 90-95% of the time, what I was feeling was not anything that was important to address immediately. Most of the time these pains would come and go. Sometimes they would be in certain spots where I had surgeries and biopsies done.

Occasionally I get some weird weird ghost pains that happen where my biopsy happened in my liver. I would get some pains in my armpit where I had a lymph node removed. Even in my neck area where I had a mediastinoscopy, I get some weird sensations and things that happen there. Even then, even where I had my bone marrow biopsy in my hip, I get some weird sensations.

Not all pain is Ghost Pain

I will admit, some of these pains might be chalked up to some old sports injuries that I had. My feelings are the pains were created from the chemotherapy and the treatment that I had gone through. By knowing this, I’ve become more at ease and more at peace with the pains and feelings that I go through. Especially since I’m still very active.

I’m still very aware of all the things that are going on. I’m understanding how my heart works and how that relates to sports activities. Even got a GPS heart monitor watch so I can really keep an eye on when I’m super active. This has helped keep an eye on my ghost pains when I’m really active also.

So these are some things that I’ve been able to do. I’ve taken much more interest in what my body’s telling me and how I’m feeling because of these Ghost Pains. This was huge for me to really wrap my head around and feel comfortable with it now. It took a lot of time and energy to understand and work through all this info. And then come up with something that made sense to me.

“I’ve taken much more interest in my body and how it works!”

Todd Franzen

So I suggest for you that are reading this, if you’re feeling some weird Ghost Pains, maybe you’re feeling some true serious pains, take a moment and assess what is going on.

I’ve been going through a lot of ghost pains lately, so I’m getting pretty good at telling the difference between them and real pain. No matter how intense it feels or where it’s located on my body- its always gone within an hour if not sooner!

Sometimes, when you’re feeling really nervous about something that can’t be explained away by logic (ghosts are too easy to explain!) there may actually be some truth in those worries after all.

Does it happen more often than not? Does it come and go on weird random spots?

Some things cant be explained

Hard to say. But I can say that just pay attention to them. Sometimes these pains are very legitimate and need to be addressed and sometimes they don’t. I’ve learned with my body which pains that I experience are not to be of concern. This has taken a while.

I’m eight and a half years in remission. It has taken that long to know how this has affected my body. So far so good, but I still get them. Now, I’m able to distinguish what ones I think are ghost pain and which ones are not. So take that time to really learn your body. It didn’t take me eight and a half years to learn this, but it took me a few years to decipher the information that my body was telling me. And learn what was happening.

For more information and to start gaining more insight into the steps to take as a survivor. Check out IA Survivorship Care Plan here!

Maybe ghost pains are a great way to explain why you’re feeling crazy sensations through your body as a survivor.

About the Author

Todd Franzen is a Stage 4 Lymphoma Survivor. Living in Breckenridge Colorado

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