Associated Reactions. . . Ever Have ‘Em??

Life After Cancer — By on August 17, 2009 at 3:55 pm

In my recent post on how smells affected our memory I neglected to write about my associated reaction with the Metro North Train to NYC.

Since surviving cancer my love of NYC has been somewhat tainted. I had all of my surgery, treatment, and followup visits at Sloan Kettering in the city.

I feel very grateful to have found doctors I love at such a great hospital. But all the trips into the city for chemo, and multiple train rides to followup tests and the like now tend to make me sick. And I mean that literally.

Whenever I take the train to one of my doc appointments I start to fell sick from when I wake up that morning. I feel nauseous, have a headache, and get the runs. This happens without fail.

By the time I am boarding the train the first whiff of the pleather seats and urine sends me into a tailspin. It reminds me of being sick, of needle sticks and MRI machines.

So when I would hop the train to something fun in the city like going to dinner with my husband, or meeting a friend for a day of shopping the same thing would happen.

It has been so damn frustrating. Who wants to feel sick when you are supposed to be going to have fun. I didn’t know how to tell that part of my brain that my train ride wasn’t about cancer. I theorized that the more fun things I went to the city for I would feel less of the associated reaction. The bad experiences out weighted the good ones.

Until yesterday. I think I finally had a breakthrough. This past month I have had 3 trips to the city which is alot for me.

I saw a friend for dinner a couple of weeks ago, then Tuesday on my birthday and then yesterday I hopped the train by myself to meet a friend for lunch. I woke up yesterday with trepidation hoping I wouldn’t feel the headache and stomach pains.

And amazingly I didn’t. By the time I got to the train station and was boarding I happily noticed that I did not feel sick at all. I actually felt pretty good. No anxiety or sickness. And that made me happy!

Finally a good train ride! I had a great time with my friend and on the train home felt good that I have made progress. I can only hope it continues.

Do you ever have associated reactions such as this? Does it ever make you anxious or frustrated? How do you deal?

I am the author of Breastless in the City. Visit me at

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