After Cancer…living with “SCANXIETY”

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Like many people my cancer checkups are on a set time frame. For example, right now, my CT scans are scheduled every six months. This is the longest I have ever gone without being checked. No matter the distance between scans I tend to remain worry free about them during the time span. Interestingly enough, those around me tend to obsess over my upcoming tests. They are always asking when I am going to be tested again, does it hurt or am I worried about them. I always laugh and tell them I am doing great and there is nothing to fear. And those words are true up to a certain point in time. I don’t worry until after the scan is complete. You know that time span between your scan and you receiving results? That’s when my scanxiety sets in. Up until this last round of testing I really couldn’t articulate why the angst over this, when an hour prior to the test I had not a care in the world. You see prior to scanning I exist in a cancer free world created by the previous round of tests. That feels good and creates an aura of safety to relax in. After my scan my anxiety soars to heights unknown and here’s why.

  • When I arrive in radiology everybody is on the same page. We all know my last scan was clean and none of us know what this next scan will show.July TD
  • When I leave radiology somebody knows my results. The radiation tech knows whether any questionable angry spots that represent the beast have reappeared on the pictures taken.
  • They never reveal in their attitude one way or the other but simply asking me if I have an appointment to see my doctor lights the fuse of concern and I start to over think that question.
  • If they say nothing at all but “Have a good day” my mind can twist that into wondering if they mean this will be my last good day and I should enjoy it.

By the time I get to my car I think that the radiologist knows my results now. What is he or she saying into the phone in the bank of dictation viewing cubicles that exist in the clinic scan area? Is there a “suspicious area” that has to be investigated further? Have they glanced at my age and thought “Oh that’s such a shame. So young!” Now two people know something that no one else does, my results. The wait has been two weeks this time. I have filled the time with travel and the Memorial Holiday and work. But my stomach hurts. This is my worry time and it feels horrible and excessive.

Since my diagnosis in 2010 this two weeks is the longest I have waited for test results. I have also waited as little as minute to see what my scans have revealed. I am here to tell you that two weeks, one week, one day, one hour, one minute all feels like an eternity when, good or bad, somebody other than me knows my results. For that span of time I am worried and afraid. It’s only in that time, when somebody “knows” what I don’t that I feel off balance. When my results are given to me I feel like I can exhale and do what will be required of me. Harmony will return when I (and everybody) knows how I’m doing and we are all on the same page once more until I scan again.