Friday, June 29, 2007

Stress is a side effect of cancer

I had my first migraine aura 27 years ago, in the month before I got married. My husband-to-be was a young doctor. He’d never run across a complaint of flashing lights taking over a person’s peripheral vision, so he ignored his own good medical advice (“When you hear hoof beats, don’t assume it’s a zebra.”) and secretly feared it was a brain tumor. He sent me to a neurologist to prove himself wrong.

And fortunately for me, he was wrong. Migraine auras are common, many times followed by a migraine headache. In my case, the auras are never followed by headaches, and in fact, I’ve been thankfully free of the migraine headaches I experienced as a young woman.

My auras tend to last about a half hour, gradually increasing in scope until they take over my entire field of vision. I reach a point where it’s hard to see anything through the flashing lights, and minutes later it’s over. These episodes are infrequent, typically showing up in times of stress.

Not surprisingly, I’ve had several in the past few weeks, most recently this morning. As far as I know, this is just another reaction to the stress that’s settled into every crack in my life. But I’ll report it to my doctor when I see her Monday. Headaches are also a known side effect of the anti-nausea drug I’m on, a generic form of Zofran, which means this form of migraine may qualify.

But in case the logic has escaped any in the medical community, stress is an undeniable side effect of cancer.


Jacci said...


I've been getting auras since I was about 12 years old. I had now idea what they were. I would just see light flashing in my peripheral vision for about 30 minutes, then I was ok. It wasn't until I said something to my new eye doctor. He said they were occular migrains. I still get them especially when under stress.

Ceil said...

Isn't it comforting to know it's not a brain tumor?! :)

I have them frequently these days....