Scanxiety

Scanxiety is a term commonly used by metastatic breast cancer patients. It is the anxiety we experience when it is time for tests to evaluate the effectiveness of our treatment.

The first time I met my oncologist she told me that battling MBC is a marathon, not a sprint. For cancer in earlier stages, treatment is more harsh because the idea is to blast the cancer away to achieve remission. Since there is no cure for MBC, the goal of treatments is to control the cancer while keeping that patient strong enough to keep battling. In two days I will have a bone scan, chest/abdominal CT scan and a brain MRI. My last bone scan and chest/abdominal CT were in mid-November and they showed that my cancer was “extremely stable” according to my oncologist. For me that meant that all bones lesions showed signed of healing, the adrenal tumor was unchanged and the liver lesions had decreased in number and size.

I only had a few days to celebrate those results. Less than two weeks later I experienced extreme vertigo and passed out in the bathroom in the middle of the night. I bumped my head in the fall and ended up in the emergency room. Tests showed that the cancer had spread to my brain. I had gamma knife treatment on 3 brain tumors. It is now three months later and time for another round of scans. This Tuesday I will have a bone scan, brain MRI and chest/abdominal CT scan.

I have a bad case of scanxiety. My thoughts race. At times I wish I did not have to wait any longer for the tests because I want to know if the treatment is working. At times I wish I the scans were canceled because I am afraid they will have bad news. At times I think of how important it is to “know you enemy”. At times I am sure that my cancer is still extremely controlled. At times I am certain that they will find more brain tumors.

Telling me to “think positive” is not helpful. Prayers for good scans and peace of mind are helpful, as is inappropriate humor.

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