How to survive scanxiety from a 3 x cancer survivor
After nearly a decade dealing with the cancer shit show, sadly, I’ve not yet discovered the secret to overcoming scanxiety. (Unless you’re open to recreational drugs and a bucketload of alcohol for some temporary relief, but your oncology team probs won’t be down.)
The fear that surrounds cancer related scans can be completely crippling and totally unpredictable. One moment you have full trust in your bad-ass body and feel with every cell in your body that cancer is behind you, the next moment you’re compiling your funeral invite list and wondering what will happen to your hoards of clothes when you’re gone. (Does anyone else wonder this?)
However, what I have learnt are some tricks, activities, and calming techniques that help me manage the fear (which I've named Walter) and survive the time around scans. Plus I've added some extra wisdom from our wonderful Bravery warrior community. ❤️
Get out of bed. Start your day. Get dressed. Turn on some music. Eat your breakfast. Swallow your vitamins. Brush your teeth. You don’t need to do anything productive but don’t stay in bed with your thoughts. They are destructive and always win.
(Do yourself a favour and watch The Durrells for Greek islands escapism)Walks (or movement in general). When the destructive thoughts took over, getting out of the house would always helped defuse my brain. I don’t know if it’s the movement of crappy energy or just soaking up some green tree vibes but it always works, even if I just go around the block.
Distract yourself with good friends. Avoid seeing that naggy Aunt who has the world record for time spent complaining about people under 30 accounting to nothing in this era. See ya mate.
Plan for the meltdowns. If you’re booked in for routine scans, you can mark on your calendar when you can expect scanxiety (in my case, Walter) to be knocking on your door. Think about what calms you and have it ready – cheery music playlists, good easy food, a bank of downloaded meditations, book in some catch ups, plan a hike, communicate to your loved ones how you’re likely to be feeling and brainstorm how best they can support you. Expect things to go pear shaped and have a plan.
EFT – So EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) has recently become a GAME CHANGER for me. Taught to me by Krista Jane, it's about moving the energy associated with a problem/fear/anxiety/illness. Watch this video for a basic run down on how to start. I used the set up ‘Even though I’m so anxious of getting my results as I’m scared the cancer has come back, I still deeply love myself and my body.’ Have a play around with using your own words and see if you can bring your nerves down. Again, this is only recommended if you’re in a safe space with support. Otherwise hit up KJ for a consultation and she can support you through it.
Get your questions ready. Make a list ready for your appt. What info will make you feel better to know? I asked about treatment options IF it ever came back. I also asked about the exact % of the creep coming back – something I had previously been too scared to ask. Plus asked for a psych recommendation. Will let you know how that goes.
Make a plan. Ok – so if things go tits up and you get the worst news, what will you do? The control freak in me found this comforting, especially when facing Hodgkin’s as I knew there would also be treatment options and I would just have to find the silver linings to make it bearable.
EXTRA SUGGESTIONS FROM MY BIG BRAVERY COMMUNITY ❤️
Wear glittery undies. ✨ - Alice
Visualisation. “I have lesions on my brain and often visualise little workers (almost like Lego men and women with hardhats on) repairing my myelis around the nerves. A beautiful way to keep the power.” From Louise
Bake therapy. Specifically these drool worthy FUDGY BROWNIES as suggested by Claudia!
Avoid caffeine. - Keira
DANCE! Pre-scan dance party with the kids. – Alice
Audio books. Such a good idea for the waiting room! – Luce
Keep a secret. Don’t tell people exactly when the scan and results are so you don’t get asked constantly for an update. – Claui
I'd love to hear any other suggestions by leaving a comment below!