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Emotional issues

Cancer can be emotionally draining, but sharing your feelings can help you and others in your situation. Talk about it here.

Anxiety over blood test results.

wombles
Posted by

This might not be the right place, but..... I've been becoming increasingly anxious about the approaching blood test for Prostate Cancer, (PSA) test. It's a routine test following radiotherapy a year ago and even though it's not until March, I'm already very worried. There is no reason why it should not be ok. My health anxiety started with emergency surgery for bowel cancer six years ago, (all clear now,) and the prostate cancer took over from that! I am in the PC group, but this is more of a mental problem. Any strategies? I can't just 'forget it' until nearer the due date and expect my anxiety will worsen during February. 

Thehighlander
Posted by

Hi , I think many folks in this Community will be nodding their heads as they read your post.

Appointment/scan anxiety is natural but when we let it define us, that is the point when we are not in control.

I have been on my cancer journey for 20 years and yes in the early years had to deal with the what if’s?..... the uncertainty.

But I quickly realised that regardless of all the stress and worry I subjected myself with, it was not going to make one iota of difference to what my team would say and where the journey would go. I made a choice that I would not let my illness define me.

Controlling the battle between the ears is the main thing I did.

I found this article that is rather good at working out the issues you are going through right now.

Although it talks about Scanxiety, it relates to every part of dealing with the ’what if’s’

What Is Scanxiety and How Can You Manage It?

February 26, 2018 - Choose Hope

The first time you read or hear it, “scanxiety” may look and sound like a funny word. However, when you are going through it, there is nothing funny about this very real condition. From the first MRI following a doctor’s suspicious discovery during a routine exam to the annual PET scan years after an initial diagnosis, the fear and worry that accompanies imaging appointments can take a significant toll on your emotional and mental wellbeing.

Fortunately, you can take steps to minimise and cope with the sometimes-overwhelming emotions you feel.

Acknowledge your Feelings

Don’t try to ignore the way you feel, as this can actually increase your anxiety. Instead, recognise and even embrace your scanxiety. This first step empowers you to take action, move forward and manage your emotions, helping you find peace and feel more in control of your own life.

Talk about It to the Right People

Venting your fears and frustrations to people close to you can be a wonderful way to release stress and gain vital support. However, if you have folks in your life who tend to exacerbate your worries or load you up with even more concerns (and really, who doesn’t have that one friend or family member?), avoid sharing too much with them.

Practice Mindful Living

Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Look for ways to live in the moment. Hug your little boy and inhale deeply, noting the mingled fragrance of fresh earth and shampoo. Stroke your husband’s face and think about the way his soft stubble brushes your hand. Savour a particularly flavourful meal. Relish in the here and now.

Distract Yourself

Find ways to take your mind off the upcoming scan, at least for a while. Dig into a novel or binge watch a series that completely engrosses you. Turn up your favourite music and tackle a chore you’ve been putting off for too long. Hang out with that one friend who has a gift for making you guffaw. Schedule some time to enjoy your favourite hobby without interruption. If you have trouble letting go, imagine setting your worries in a “to do later” box and tell yourself you can pick them up when you’re done.

Ask Questions

Sometimes, the unknown is the greatest instigator of anxiety. If you are unclear about anything –from what to expect during the scan, to when and how you can expect to receive your results, to what those results might mean– don’t be afraid to ask your doctor. Having a well-defined understanding of what you will or might experience allows you to be better prepared and can even ease your mind.

Plan for the Worst Outcome…

Along with knowing what could possibly come of your scan, creating a strategy for the worst case scenario can improve your sense of control. By no means should this be perceived as giving up or being resigning yourself to bad news. Cancer can make you feel powerless, but creating a basic action plan just in case can help  you regain your power as well as your optimism.

…but Visualise the Best

Your mind is more powerful than you might realise. Visualisation and guided imagery have been shown to improve your mood, control symptoms or side effects and even boost your immune system. Imagine yourself receiving great news after your scan. Allow yourself to experience the feelings of relief, gratitude and elation. Think about these things as though you are remembering them. Seeing it in your mind’s eye can give you the encouragement you need to overcome your scanxiety.

Mike - Thehighlander

It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

wombles
Posted by

Thanks again, Highlander. I've just read this again as my test is now due. There is no reason why it could be a disappointing result, so just do it! 

Thehighlander
Posted by

After 20 years at this game you expect the unexpected.

I have been having all my bloods done for my Late (Stem Cell Transplant) Effects Appointment (Video Conference) 4 years 4 months and 18 days post my second Allo Steam Cell Tratnspalnt.

I got a letter from GP informing me that I have Impaired Glucose Tolerance or in other words Pre-diabetes!!....... Follow up blood test and review in a year....... expect the unexpected 

Looking for your to be good.

Mike - Thehighlander

It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

wombles
Posted by

I rang the hospital and they said do, so I did it. An ok result with a small drop which Dr said was fine. So I'll relax. Until the next one I suppose. But in the meantime I will see a counsellor. 

Thehighlander
Posted by

Good morning , there we are then.

This is good news and a further foundation to build on. It is good to talk with professionals but also with others who have walked the walk so check to see if you have any Local Macmillan Support in your area, I am told the ‘HOPE’ course is good or a Maggie’s Centre as these folks are amazing and I did their ‘where now?’ course a few years back.

The main thing that doing the course highlighted was that I was living with an invisible rucksack of ‘stuff’ I had collected over my diagnosis, treatment and post treatment years. So I was encouraged to regularly emperors the rucksack on the floor and discard some of the ‘stuff’...... yes it dies take time to work through this post treatment stuff but it will always be pulling you down if you do nothing about it.

Clear results in our house was always worth a little celebration.

Mike - Thehighlander

It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

wombles
Posted by

Thanks again Highlander. I've found some support where I live in New Zealand and have been offered three free counselling sessions, which I shall definitely accept. I've calmed down now of course and will discuss with my Dr whether to have 3 monthly or 6 monthly tests. I'll vote for 6 of course, but will follow his advice. Perhaps 4 1/2 months as a compromise? 

I celebrated with a pie. Alcohol was a problem, but none for 13 years, 1 month and 1 day at 5 pm precisely. Maybe I have a slight OCD problem too. I count everything. John. 

Thehighlander
Posted by

Lol,John, a long journey to access support in the UK them. But well done finding something m, I am sure it will help. This Community is great but one on one just helps you look someone in the eye.

Nothing wrong in organising our minds and setting a clock in when life was changed. It’s a platform to help bring order to the whirlwind that goes on around a cancer diagnosis.

Well done is being dry for this amount of time, I have talked with many people who have went back due to cancer so this is a great achievement and worth another pie...... mind you just this week I found out that my cholesterol was up and I am pre-diabetic so it’s been a week of reviewing life style.

During my main treatment I lost 27kgs so was put on a high pristine diet...... just forgot to stop once I had put on 20kgs

Always around to help out so keep Keep contact.

Mike - Thehighlander

It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

wombles
Posted by

And again, thank you! Part of my anxiety is that I had bowel cancer six years ago and needed emergency surgery. The surgeon told me I was lucky - another night they could have lost me as there were two small perforations. I went through 5 years of waiting for blood test results which were all ok and I have a 'survivor' badge. But, as the all clear was close, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and now face regular monitoring for that. So I think that knocked me sideways mentally. But again so far, 13 months after radiotherapy, the tests are ok. We shall see...

I'll let you know how any counselling goes. 

Best wishes,

John.