If someone has experienced cancer treatments, they will never forget the first time they got the news. It was after some test or scan, and that feeling in the pit of your stomach never goes away. With memories of negative results from prior scans and tests, who wouldn’t be nervous? If you or a loved one is going through follow up scans after cancer treatment, here are some recommendations for coping with “scanxiety” during and after cancer treatment.
Living With Uncertainty
Helplessness and uncertainty become the emotions du jour when a scan is imminent. Once someone has gone through chemotherapy, surgery, radiation or hormonal therapy, you would think CT scans, an X-ray, or an MRI would be a “piece of cake.” The truth is cancer makes us feel vulnerable and out of control. Anxiety and fear rule the day, and they are normal parts of survival.
- Has my tumor gotten larger?
- Will I have to go through more treatment?
- Has my cancer spread?
- Am I having a recurrence?
Many admit that the first year is always the worst. It is hard not to obsess over an upcoming scan and fall victim to scanxiety.
Be Cognizant Of How You React Physically
Coping with scanxiety starts with recognizing the changes in your body and not ignoring them when stress rears its head. Your heart may race, you lose sleep, and you become irritable. Accept the fact you will be afraid, and make the time to focus exclusively on managing your stress, through meditation, music, physical activity, and other distractions.
Talk with Southwest Diagnostic Center for Molecular Imaging in Dallas, Texas and continue to research so you know what to expect. Discover what the patterns of recurrence are. You may find your worries are not relevant.
Don’t Worry Alone
Reach out to your positive friends and relatives for support. Better yet, find a support group who understands because they have lived through it.
Share Scanxiety With Southwest Diagnostic Center for Molecular Imaging
Tell your physician or care group how you are feeling. Although caregivers are very aware of their patient’s fears, a tap on the shoulder doesn’t hurt. They might make some alterations to make it a bit easier for you.
Stay Ahead Of The Game
What do we mean by that? It means knowing what’s coming will help give you a sense of control. That feeling is in short supply when you have experienced cancer.
Schedule your scan in the early morning so there will be less waiting time. Find out in advance how you will get the results from your scan, when you will get them, how you will get them, and who will be letting you know. If you will be meeting in person, set up that appointment well in advance.
Set up a fun activity for afterwards like lunch with a friend, a manicure/ pedicure, and think about previous happy results in the past.
One last tried and true way to cope with the stress: spend time with young children and pets.