Tips to Cope with Visits:Scans:Tests Anxiety (Scanxiety)

The fluorescent lights of the clinic buzz softly overhead. The scent of antiseptic is faint but unmistakable. You’re waiting for your name to be called, and with each passing second, anxiety ratchets up another notch. Welcome to the world of “scanxiety.”

Facing the uncertainty of medical scans and tests, even if routine, can be nerve-wracking. But, as someone who understands this path, let us share a few tips to help you navigate these choppy waters.

1. Preparation is Your Best Ally

Before the scan/test day:

  • Make a list of questions or concerns and discuss them with your medical team. Sometimes, just understanding the process can alleviate much of the anxiety.
  • Have a light meal, and wear comfortable clothing. This can have a surprisingly calming effect.
  • Consider a mild relaxation technique, such as meditation or deep-breathing exercises. These methods are ways to reduce stress and anxiety.

2. Pack a ‘Comfort Kit’

What soothes you? Maybe it’s a soft blanket, your favorite playlist, or a book that transports you to another world. Packing a small bag with comfort items can be your touchstone of normalcy in an unfamiliar environment.

3. Plan Your Day

Having a structure can create a sense of control. Plan what time you’ll arrive, where you’ll park, or how you’ll get there. Perhaps even plan a treat for yourself after the appointment. According to Cancer Research UK, having post-appointment plans can give patients something positive to look forward to and focus on.

4. Bring a Friend or Family Member

Having supporting friend by your side can be a significant source of comfort. They can help distract you, offer support, or even just hold your hand. If in-person support isn’t possible, consider a virtual companion through a video call.

5. Engage in Mindful Activities While Waiting

The waiting can sometimes be the hardest part. Instead of watching the clock, engage in an activity. Listen to calming music, try a coloring book, meditate, or watch a light-hearted video. Distraction can be a powerful tool.

6. Remember, It’s Okay to Seek Professional Help

If your anxiety becomes overwhelming, remember there’s no shame in seeking help. Therapists and counselors, especially those specializing in chronic illnesses or health anxiety, can provide coping strategies. Many cancer support organizations also offer resources and counseling services for this very reason.

7. Connect with Communities

Online forums often have threads dedicated to ‘scanxiety’. Reading about others’ experiences or sharing your feelings can be therapeutic.

8. Keep the Big Picture in Mind

While it’s natural to fear the results, remember that these scans and tests are there to help monitor your health. They’re tools in your arsenal, ensuring you stay ahead and informed.

And lastly, always remind yourself: You are more than just a patient waiting for a scan result. You are a story of resilience, of battles won, and of challenges overcome. In the vast narrative of your life, this is but a single page.

It’s a moment, and like all moments, it too shall pass.

When the weight becomes too heavy to bear alone, know that there’s a vast online cancer discord community ready to stand beside you. Connect, share your journey, and together, we’ll illuminate the path ahead.