What I learned growing up in a dysfunctional family is FEAR. Plain and simple. Fear.
I know there is healthy fear - like when you learn to be afraid to touch something hot. But the fear I'm talking about is unhealthy; immovable; uncommon; isolating. It's fear of things that others around you (those people that didn't grow up in your family) don't get. They look at you and ask why you would even think along those lines.
When life is going smoothly - bills are paid, the kids are getting along, my marriage is fine - my brain perks up and says "What's the deal? I'm not used to all this quiet. I need to find something to worry about! I need to be afraid!"
At that point, the nagging cough I've had for two weeks suddenly becomes lung cancer. The upcoming doctor's physical suddenly seems extremely worrisome with its "results" and "findings." Could that twitch you had in your left eye last week be caused by a tumor? I could go on and on....
It's comical at times, and as I look back on all the body symptoms I've absolutely "known" were cancer, I usually think how absurd I was to suspect such a thing. But that's where my dysfunctional family comes in. I can't say how many times I watched my mother obsess over her health. She was miserable in her marriage and expressed it through worry - worry about breast cancer, worry about ovarian cancer, worry about every cancer that could possibly be imagined... and now I imagine them!
I work very hard to never let my kids see my irrational fears. The last thing I want to do is continue this chain of cancer phobia.
Overcoming these fears is my life's goal, and it may take a lifetime to do it. I guess we all have some cross to bear having come from a dysfunctional family. All we can do is pray, work our personal programs, and live for today.