Scanxiety. It is a real thing.
Scanxiety: the tension which builds particulary amongst those who have or have had cancer as they move towards their regular check up scan, hyperscanxiety being the period as they await results!
My husband had cancer found in his body 5 years ago. We thought it was appendicitis, so we rushed him to the hospital to find that he had a tumor in his abdomen. Upon the tumor being taken out, we were told it was a GIST tumor, which is classified as cancerous. My husband was immediately put on a chemo pill called Gleevec, which he was on for 4 years. Every 6 months for those first 4 years he would go to Dana Farber for routine cat scans to make sure there were no additional growths or tumors showing up. Two years ago a shadow spot popped up in his abdomen again, so they watched it for 6 months. It wasn’t growing, stayed exactly the same size (which is good when there’s no growth), but we opted to have it taken out. It turned out to be (thank GOD) scar tissue from his previous surgery. Since going off the chemo pill last January, he has been getting cat scans every 3 months, just to keep an extra eye on everything. I’m ALL about them because I want to make sure he’s healthy and that nothing is growing that shouldn’t be. It was very scary to have him get diagnosed with a GIST tumor so young, especially with 4 little kids at home.
As anyone and everyone who has been through cat scans knows, scan days are high stress and high anxiety days. They aren’t just like that for my husband, they’re like that for his family, too. I’m always on extra high alert. He’s my husband. He’s my rock. He’s my other half. We have 5 kids together and our lives function as a unit. Cat scans are just crazy tough days because it’s a waiting game. You get them done and then you wait.
You wait. It’s that waiting that kills you inside. It’s the waiting that makes your anxiety soar high.
Last Wednesday my husband had his routine cat scan scheduled. I was away for work, so to say that I was on pins and needles to hear from him is an understatement. I hardly slept and I just wanted to make sure everything was OK with him. Usually when Matt heads into his appointments he texts me back within 30 minutes with the news. Last Wednesday, he went in at 8:30AM and still by 9:30AM I hadn’t heard anything! I was sick to my stomach with worry. It wasn’t like Matt not to get back to me quickly, so I kept texting him asking if all was alright.
This was the text I got back…
My world kind of froze with that text.
Trying to be strong for my husband?
I immediately turned to family and friends for extra prayers and positive thoughts. When Matt went through everything 5 years ago the boys were so young, they really didn’t understand what was going on. They knew Dad had something going on, but didn’t know the extent. This time around the boys are old enough to understand and we didn’t want them to worry unless it warranted some worry.
My husband went for his MRI on Thursday and we had to wait 24 hours for the results. My husband was away with the boys at a swim meet in Boston, so he was alone and I was alone. My husband is fantastic being able to channel any worry. I’m the polar opposite. I’m a panic machine. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am. I’ve always been this way with worry. I don’t think I slept a wink that night or was even able to eat! I had given up wine for Lent, so I couldn’t even had a glass of wine! It was a very tough 24 hours. When Friday morning arrived, I wanted Matt to call me as soon as he got the word from his doctor. I was nervous to look at my phone all morning, just wanting it to ring, but also scared for it to ring.
Finally we got word around 11AM that the growth on his liver was benign, nothing to worry about… THANK GOD.
I honestly felt like a weight was lifted from shoulders. My breathe came back. I couldn’t even be with my husband to hug him, but I sent him 100 hugs!!
I know my version of life will always be like this with Matt. We will go through this routine cat scans regularly. As difficult as it is, it’s our normal. I will never, ever get used to them because they scare me to pieces. I get so nervous and so much anxiety. But I know that these need to be done. If he doesn’t get these, we won’t be able to monitor him, so they’re essential.
I had a friend reach out and say that she understood the Scanxiety. That was the VERY FIRST time I had heard this word, but it makes so much sense. I get it. It’s that built up anxiety around scans, I truly know this to the core.
For all my family and friends who go through the same thing – either for themselves or for the they love, I’m hear for you if you need prayers or positive thoughts. And I pray that during the scanxiety time you can find some peace.