Hodgkin lymphoma

Affected by Hodgkin Lymphoma? Join this group to share experiences and ask questions to people who understand what you're going through.

Scan Anxiety

Luna-May
Posted by

So I have finished all my chemotherapy and now I have the dreaded wait of 6-8 weeks until my end of treatment scan and in turn results. These will determine whether I need radio or any other treatment, or whether fingers crossed I am free to go. I am becoming increasingly anxious about this scan now and I am struggling to handle my emotions towards it. Everytime I think about it I feel sick. For me this scan determines not just whether I am free of cancer but also whether I can go back to university and finish my degree and carry on normal life. I am so scared that it won't turn out ok and I just don't know how I am going to manage my feelings for these whole 6 weeks. How do you deal with scan/results anxiety? Trying not to think about it is a lot easier said than done when you reminded of your situation everytime you see yourself with no/little hair etc. 

Suggestions to help deal with this stage would be very helpful. 

Thehighlander
Posted by

Good morning , well done in getting through your treatment...... and now the wait?

Over the past 20 years I have had a least one scan a year sometimes every three months. The main lesson I learned was I had no control over the scan and results. What ever the scan results said (many were good but a few were bad) I had to deal with it and move on. I made sure that my illness did not define who I was.

I found this great article that someone did about Scanxiety - have a look........ ((hugs))

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

moomy
Posted by

Hi Luna-May,

scanxiety is a very real condition, and Mike has given great information about ways to help. 

My solution, for what it’s worth, is that a scan is simply a tool to tell the medics what stage you’re at and whether treatment has done all they wanted it to; you can’t alter that and stressing about it will really only achieve one thing; to make you feel bad!

hopefully all will be clear, do know we all feel for you and with you, though, (all on here totally get how worrying it all is!) please do pop back when you know the results.....

hugs xxx

Moomy

Luna-May
Posted by

Hi ,

Thank-you for your reply and copy of the article. I think what is making me most anxious about this scan is that it holds the key to whether I can return to uni, which for me is so important. I am desperate to go back to university not just because it will mean my scan was all clear, but also to re-gain my independence and a routine where I have something to do everyday. Having to come home to have treatment and put university on hold has been really hard to deal with, especially when I see my friends still up there and having a great time. So because I am so keen to return, it puts extra pressure on this scan being good. I know that if, from the scan, that they decide I need radiotherapy, there is still a chance that could be finished in time for university. However, I still may not be allowed to return. The uni want a letter 2 months before and this may not be possible if I need radio. Then of course, if the scan is worse or suggests I need more chemo, then going back to uni in September will be off the cards altogether. I then don't know if I will be motivated to complete my degree in another years time after more months of treatment. I will probably just give up. So, in my head I then toy with the idea of refusing any further treatment if needed, just so that I can finish my last year at university and get my degree. I just wish I could control the results but obviously I cant, and this is what gives me anxiety and stress. 

Thehighlander
Posted by

Hi again , these moments in time in a 20somthings life is hard enough at the best of times but Cancer just makes it so much more complicated.

The scan will come and go and the results will be given and you will do what is right for the greater good..... but putting a lid on your HL is very important.

I never got the chance to get to University and left school and did an Apprenticeship....... I was in my mid 30s before I got the opportunity to do my Degree in Teaching..... so there always a future.

I don’t know what your Radiotherapy requires but I had 45 sessions and if it had not been for me going through other treatment I would say I could have worked during this time.

Lets keep everything crossed for good news.

((hugs))

Mike - Thehighlander

It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

Reanswolf
Posted by

Mike

Your replies are just fantastic and really help us all put a perspective on things.

Nick