Scanxiety: The feeling of fear and anxiousness associated with the regular scans and check-ups for cancer patients and survivors.
Whether you are in the midst of your cancer treatment, or 10 years’ cancer free, scanxiety still somehow appears. That fear when having check-ups and scans for cancer is the worst, no matter what you do and what you think, it’s there, it’s always there. Don’t worry though, you are definitely not alone when thinking like this, we are all going through it and know what that fear is like. But instead of going through it on our own, I thought I would share my tips for when scanxiety comes around, because everything is better when you do it together! So below there are some strategies I myself use and a lot of people I know around me who also suffer from scanxiety.
- Accept what you’re feeling
It’s okay to feel anxious about upcoming scans and appointments, when you think about it who wouldn’t be worried about it? Accept that this is how you are feeling and don’t push it away.
- Talk to someone
You don’t have to do this alone, talking to a family member, friend, doctor or someone else you feel you can trust can help you feel more at ease, especially if they are understanding. Sometimes this is all you need to feel better and give you that confidence kick. Talk to someone and get it off your chest.
- Do something you enjoy
Are you someone who enjoys going for a walk, hanging out with friends or doing activities? If so, going on that walk on the beach or by the river, having a fun time with some friends, or doing that fun activity can really help with taking your mind off the anxiety and stress.
- Don’t stress about the future
The future holds many things good and bad for all of us, most of these things we cannot change or do anything about. Having something show up on a scan or test is something you can’t control and stressing about it now is not going to help. Try and focus on the now and only stress on the things happening right now and ones you can try and change.
- Plan ahead
If you tend to stress about things in advance and when you have a lot of free time on your hands try planning your appointments early. If you have the morning free before you're scheduled scan or appointment, call them and see if you can make it any earlier, this way you don’t have the morning to sit around and stress about it. If this doesn’t work out though, try and plan something to do before your appointment, go catch up with a friend, see a family member or anything that will keep you busy!
- Try some breathing or mindfulness techniques
Simple I know, but using some breathing or mindfulness techniques can really make a difference in the stress and anxiety. When you start to feel overwhelmed try some controlled breathing or find a guide for mindfulness on YouTube. You can even try this when you are in having your scan or test.
- Join a cancer community or group
You don’t have to do this alone, especially when there are so many people going through similar experiences every day. The Cancer Talk Foundation provides a forum page where you can talk to others about your worries and how you're feeling. If you want to meet people in person, talk to a social worker to see if there are any local community groups.
Cancer Talk forum: https://www.cancertalkfoundation.org/forum
- Talk to a professional about your worries
If the anxiety and stress doesn’t ever seem to go away and its getting worse go and talk to a professional. This could include a psychologist, doctor, counsellor or any other specialist you feel comfortable with.
- Create a routine around your appointments
Most cancer patients and survivors have regular check-ups all the time. This can range from every month to every year. To help be more relaxed when the time comes around, make a routine that you do every time you have a scan or appointment. This doesn’t have to be too difficult just little things you do each time. An example could be going to have a coffee with someone before your appointment.
- Schedule ahead how and when you will get the results
Having a rough idea of when you will get answers to the results is a good way to feel more relaxed. Schedule your doctor’s appointment, or however you receive your results, before the date of the scan or test. It can really help put you at ease knowing how long until you get the results.