If you asked me what scanxiety was prior to my diagnosis, I would have responded with a confused look on my face. SCANXIETY? What does that even mean??
The tough reality is that we all experience this at some point after being diagnosed with cancer. Fear and anxiety at the thought of another scan. The waiting, the worrying, the what if’s. All those feelings come flooding back and you quickly realize that it’s not just about what will happen but remembering what did happen.
The hospital gowns, the poke of a needle, the sounds of the machine buzzing around you, the voices telling you to lie still, the pangs of hunger after fasting all night.
The shock, the denial, the fear, the anger, and the acceptance. It all comes back to that life changing moment when you’re told you have cancer.
I can’t help but notice how long the tech spends imaging a certain area and find myself searching their face for signs of hope and reassurance. Do they look relieved? Concerned? Often times I am met with a poker face leaving me with the dreaded feeling of anxiety awaiting the results. A scan prior to a cancer diagnosis was to check for a minor blip in our health. A quick little band-aid fix and we were on our way. But now a scan can mean something much more sinister.
Time seems to stand still and I find myself treading that fine line between denial and acceptance. There’s a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach trying to prepare myself for the worst while also hoping for the best. People often say things like “think positive” and “live in the present moment” but it’s hard not to think about the very harsh realities of it all.
Then the day comes when the results are in. As the doctor enters the room, my anxiety builds and I find myself once again searching their face for clues. Part of me wants to run while the other knows it’s time to face the truth. The news comes back though and everything is clear! Cue the music, the bubbly, the pomp and circumstance. While there’s a feeling of relief it’s not the celebration that one might expect. It feels like I’ve bought more time, but the question still lingers…will I be so lucky next time?