[Question] Illness anxiety disorder: how to become more rational?

Dis­claimer: When I think about dy­ing I mostly think about can­cer (I don’t know much about other dis­eases). In the fol­low­ing, I’ll be refer­ing to “can­cer” to point at deadly dis­eases where early de­tec­tion is cru­cial.

[Epistemic sta­tus: think­ing out loud; try­ing to de­bug my ir­ra­tional mind.]

Si­tu­a­tion I strongly be­lieve that I have fi­nal stage can­cer. When I touch my pec­toral mus­cles, I can feel lumps. I have been suffer­ing un­bear­able anx­iety for the past one year and a haf or so, feel­ing that some­thing very wrong is hap­pen­ing.

Med­i­cal Ev­i­dence One year ago, a car­diol­o­gist told me my heart was fine and didn’t see any­thing from ul­tra­sound. In the past two months, I checked two GPs. The first one said “it’s prob­a­bly just mus­cu­lar”. The sec­ond one (ex­tremely tal­ented, known as Dr. House) recom­mended ad­di­tional ul­tra­sound/​com­puted to­mog­ra­phy.

In­ter­nal Ev­i­dence It feels real. It hurts. It’s cum­ber­some. It af­fects the left part of my chest and my left arm. When­ever I touch it I can feel that my left chest is of a very differ­ent con­sis­tency com­pared to my right one.

What hap­pens I can’t do any mean­ingful work. My mind is im­mersed in daily pain and the pos­si­bil­ity of a fi­nal stage can­cer. When I think about do­ing the ad­di­tional tests, I’m TERRIFIED by the idea of hav­ing a doc­tor tell me “you have 4 months left”. Yes­ter­day, I man­aged to make an ap­point­ment for an ul­tra­sound. How­ever, I’m broke, and it turns out that the par­tic­u­lar doc­tor is re­ally ex­pen­sive and has re­ally bad rep­u­ta­tion on­line (3/​5 google re­views) so I ended up can­cel­ing it this morn­ing. Also, I spend a lot of time in self-loathing, in­sult­ing my­self for not hav­ing done any med­i­cal ex­ams sooner, when the dis­ease was “not yet deadly”.

What I tell my­self when I’m try­ing to be more ra­tio­nal I check the ac­tual statis­tics of hav­ing some kind of can­cer in my left chest. For males, breast can­cer is 100 times less likely than fe­males. I’m in my 20s, so the prob­a­bil­ity of hav­ing a can­cer is smaller than for old peo­ple. When I look at ac­tual symp­toms of breast can­cer, I have none. Most im­por­tantly, af­ter check­ing ac­tual can­cer statis­tics, there’s the chance of hav­ing a thing and still sur­viv­ing (prob­a­bil­ity de­pends on the type of can­cer and stage).

Also, I’ve been feel­ing pain for about one year and a half. So if it was some­thing like a can­cer, the ac­tual pain would only ap­pear at end, and wouldn’t keep on go­ing for a year. Plus, Dr. House not be­ing im­pressed by my lumps is some ev­i­dence that they are not so im­pres­sive. And when I touch my right chest, I can also feel weird things when I search enough. The pain in the left chest could be some­thing a psy­cho­so­matic phe­nomenon (at least to some de­gree).

What I ac­tu­ally tell my­self I’m dead. The lumps are ac­tu­ally there. Look, when you press here you can feel this re­ally strange thing. It’s gross. It’s get­ting worse and worse. It’s very large. Oh my god it’s a fi­nal stage can­cer. I won’t sur­vive. I’m such a piece of shit for not hav­ing gone to a doc­tor. It’s been over a year. Fuck. I should be do­ing more tests. But I’m broke. And the out­come of do­ing more tests will be one of the fol­low­ing:

1. The doc­tors are not able to iden­tify my dis­ease and I’ll keep be­ing in pain /​ anx­ious /​ dy­ing.

2. They iden­tify some­thing and tell me “you have four months to live”.

What I’m ask­ing you I need help. I know most of what I think doesn’t make sense, but it FEELS very real. It’s like hav­ing some re­ally strong in­ter­nal ev­i­dence that some­thing bad is hap­pen­ing. I know that do­ing more tests if the way to go. But be­cause it takes 2-3 weeks to get an ap­poin­te­ment for a good GP, so there’s always the bias of try­ing to avoid to think about death and pro­cras­ti­nat­ing the ap­point­ment. And there’s this ad­di­tional cost of hav­ing to bor­row money to do any test to be­gin with, which is painful to think about.

In short It feels like I’m Pas­cal Mug­ging my­self when think­ing about death. But I’m also the com­plete op­po­site of a hypochodriac that would go see a ton of doc­tor be­cause he is in dis­tress. I FEAR go­ing to a doc­tor be­cause I’m afraid he will ei­ther not find any­thing or tell me I’m dead. It’s un­bear­able, so I need to de­bug my brain.

What should I tell my­self to be­come more ra­tio­nal?