January 22, 2013

Why I Don’t Watch TV News

I don’t watch television news.  The reasons are many.  Here are the ones that relate to my cancer:

As a young adult thyroid cancer patient, my immune system is vulnerable.  The sniffles to someone else usually lands me in bed for two weeks. I am hyper vigilant about my health.  At times even a hypochondriac.   (See my post Scared of Every Little Ache and Pain.)  I will likely always have some amount of hypochondria, but I have learned that to control and reduce my anxiety around illness.

There is needful worrying about my health.  It is perfectly natural for me to be scared about an upcoming scan. There is also needless worrying about my health. Obsessing over colds and viruses does nothing to improve my quality of life.  While I cannot flip off the worry-switch, I can reduce my exposure to hype.

When I heard of the potential flu pandemic, I wanted to more info.  While at my grandma’s house I caught a two-second TV news blurb: an interview with a pharmacy manager at Wal-Mart.  Not helpful.  On NPR, I got a conversation with a woman who lives in my neighborhood who isn’t letting her kids go to the Children’s Museum.  Not helpful.

So I got rational.  I went online to seek useful stories instead of sensationalism and quotes from credible experts instead of the average Joe.  Fear sells and it is easy to produce.  It takes a lot more work to seek out my own news sources instead of it being spoon-fed health hype.  But I value my sanity so I make the extra effort.  I am still the Purell Queen and stay as far away as I can from extra-germy people and environments.  The idea of getting the flu is horrifying.  So I’ll turn off the TV think about something else instead.  I am sure in a week or two the news will have moved on to new and scary ways I might die.

To read more about cancer and anxiety, check out my book Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s.

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