Many cancer patients and survivors experience what we affectionately call scanxiety – that is anxiety around taking scans.
I realized while swimming this afternoon that I experience anxiety around my oncology visits, but not just that. When I have an upcoming oncology visit I seem to focus on and think that every symptom I have is a sign that the cancer is back. I recall the level of anxiety I had the first year after treatment – it was crazy – but for the most part, I’ve moved passed it. I’ve learned how to deal with it, and reframe it (thank you cognitive behavioural therapy).
But this anxiety is different. It is bad enough that I actually physically feel worse. I get physical symptoms. Two weeks before my annual appointment with my surgeon my arm swelled – like a recurrence of the lymphedema that I had in that crazy first year. Just before my last oncology appointment, 5 months ago, I was sure I had a cancerous lymph node in my neck. It is all pretty crazy.
However, having now made that connection, I hope that it means the issues stop. I hope that, knowing that I have an oncology appointment the week after next, and recognizing the form of anxiety I have, means that I will no longer have that form of anxiety. Maybe I could just let that go and be OK with letting the doctor tell me that OK (or not) and not create reasons why I might not be OK.
It sounds weird. I had not quite placed it, until I realized the repetition in what was happening … so now, I hope I can move past it because for at least another year I’ll be seeing my oncologist every 6-months and I don’t need the added anxiety.