It may not officially be part of the medical lexicon yet, but “scanxiety” is no less real for those of us who are cancer survivors. The term refers to the anxiety we feel both before we undergo a medical test and before we get the results of the test. For those of us with “no evidence of disease”, we fear the news of a recurrence. For patients who have a recurrence, the anxiety concerns disease progress or treatment ineffectiveness.
Writing in Time magazine in 2011, lung cancer survivor, Bruce Feiler, described scans as “my regular date with my digital destiny. Scanxiety, he wrote, arises from the feeling of “emotional roulette wheels that spin us around for a few days and spit us out the other side. Land on red, we’re in for another trip to Cancerland; land on black, we have a few more months of freedom.” Isn’t that such a brilliant description!
As a long-term breast cancer survivor, my scans are less frequent these days, but the anxiety never goes away. In fact, some studies have suggested that scanxiety bears many similarities to post-traumatic stress.
As some of you know, I write a monthly article for Patient Empowerment Network and this month I am focusing on scanxiety. I’d love to hear from you on this topic. How do you handle it? Do you have some tips you can share with readers to cope with scanxiety? I’d be delighted to feature your tip in the article, mentioning your name and linking to your blog or a social media network of your choice.
Please leave your comments below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you on this important topic.