A few weeks ago, a dear friend reached out to me because she was very anxious about an upcoming CT scan & cancer screening. Although she has made it past the five-year mark and everything looks good, she was overcome with fear about the possibility of cancer coming back.
I can relate to this feeling 100%! Even though I am an 11-year cancer thriver and the likelihood of Hodgkin's Lymphoma returning in my case is pretty slim, I struggle with the fear of any cancer being found. I stay on top of my mammograms because some women develop it as second cancer after receiving the type of treatment that I had.
I don't dread having a mammogram. It's not that bad, in my personal opinion. It is waiting on the results that make me a bit anxious. That is the only time I worry about cancer!
These feelings that my friend and I experience are called scanxiety. Actually, just about everyone who has had cancer may experience scanxiety.
What is scanxiety?
It is a term that came to be in 2011, which describes or characterizes the feelings that are common in people getting any imaging (testing) to monitor for cancer, cancer recurrence, or assess how cancer is responding to treatment.
What can you do?
Acknowledge how you are feeling and when it starts and leaves. Does it start the week or the day before your scan/screening test? Does it leave when you have received the results?
Try to time the scan/screening test so that you can get relief from scanxiety quickly. Schedule it first thing in the morning or close to your oncology visit.
Let your health care team know how you are feeling and ask them to follow up with you as soon as possible with the results.
Tell a friend or family member that you will need extra support each time you get a scan/screening test.
Find ways to self-soothe. Take a walk, listen to your favorite music, journal, watch your favorite movie, or meditate.
Schedule a free 30-minute Meet & Greet with me to learn how I can support you when you are experiencing scanxiety and other challenges related to cancer. I am an 11-year cancer thriver and a Cancer Doula who has had her fair share of scanxiety.
Scanxiety is normal, and for some people, these feelings may never go away. Having coping strategies in place can help ease the stress and anxiety you may be feeling.