Hope for Scanxiety
How can a person with cancer find the strength to face fearful scans and MRIs?
By Chris Lawrence
The experience of getting the results of a PET scan, CT scan or MRI can be some of the hardest days to live through as a cancer patient.
So much waiting, fear, and anticipation. It’s such a universally bad experience that the cancer community created its own word to describe it: scanxiety.
Yes, you read that right: scanxiety.
Scan + anxiety = scanxiety.
What exactly is scanxiety?
Scanxiety is the fear and dread a person feels from the weeks and days leading up to the scan or test, and especially the day of getting the results.
Depending on your clinic’s procedures, the waiting could spread out over additional days and even weeks to get the results. This fear can be exacerbated if the person doesn’t know when or if their doctor will call.
You wait for good news, bad news or even the ambiguous “mixed” news.
For more info on the types of scans and ways that medical professionals diagnose cancer, check out diagnosis and staging.
Side effects of scanxiety
Scanxiety can cause a variety of problems like nervousness, sadness, depression or even feeling a sense of numbness or fatalism.
While I am not a doctor, I can say with confidence that scanxiety can negatively affect many aspects of your life, including your relationships, your work and definitely your sleep.
Worst of all, it can attack your hope—that powerful expectation of good, even when circumstances seem to scream the opposite.
And especially facing cancer, hope is what you need most of all.
My bad case of scanxiety
I’ll never forget one of my worst scanxiety experiences. I’ve had lots of scans, and they have all been difficult, but this particular PET scan was one of the toughest.
After getting a routine colonoscopy, my doctor said he saw an ulcer near the original site of my cancer. I pressed him for details, but with a stacked schedule, he was pretty curt, “it didn’t look good,” he said. He suggested I get a PET scan and whisked off to the next appointment.
My wife and I just sat there stunned and afraid.
Over the next days and weeks, the fear became acidic. We had to sit on this news until my scan to find out more. Was it cancer or just an ulcer?
I wondered if all the stress and waiting would cause more ulcers!
In many a dark moment, I projected my worst fears into the future: the cancer coming back with a vengeance, my life soon cut short, all the pieces of my life that I had worked so hard to rebuild shattered once again.
Or would they be?
The results revealed it was just a minor ulcer. Yet the fear I lived under was very real. In my experience, the circumstances seemed like they could have just as easily gone the other way.
Scanxiety is for real
Indeed, scans are terrifying, disruptive and humbling.
Just recently, I received a call from a friend who said they got news that something showed up on his spouse’s scan. And now they will have to wait to get the results. Could be nothing or could be life altering news. They will just have to wait and see, living in the thick of scanxiety.
Immediately, my heart went out to them. Cancer is so tough.
This journey is not for the faint of heart, but a path of real struggles with everything at stake: a persons’s life, or at least quality of life!
Sometimes people “beat” cancer, but not always. And that’s why scanxiety is so difficult to fight—the gnawing what if the worst happens?
Hope: the great antidote to scanxiety
Like me, you are probably already well-acquainted with scanxiety and all the fear and angst it can cause.
We all know it is challenging, but what is the best way to walk through it?
I believe HOPE is the answer. Hope answers every scanxiety woe. Hope sees good, even when circumstances make it seem like there is no possible good coming. Hope gives you the strength to keep moving ahead, even when you feel dragged down by your fear of the worst outcome.
Hope is one of a person’s most critical needs…for all people, but especially for people with cancer. Hope is the great antidote to scanxiety.
A FREE resource for scanxiety
If you don’t feel like you have hope right now for your next scan, I would love to help.
I wrote a short eBook about facing scanxiety called “10 Tips for Facing Your Next Scan” right now.
In this guide you will find:
- Practical strategies for facing your next scan
- Helpful post-scan steps
- How to find an undefeatable hope
Thousands of copies of this guide are currently being distributed in several cancer centers and you can get a digital copy delivered right to your email inbox.
This is a completely FREE resource from Hope Has Arrived, a nonprofit whose goal is to help people find hope, strength and peace against cancer.
May this guide help you face scanxiety with renewed hope, strength and peace.
Get your free copy of 10 Tips for Facing Your Next Cancer Scan.
Note: We are not doctors and we cannot answer your medical questions. However, we welcome your questions about finding hope and knowing God.