Scanxiety During a Pandemic

Scanxiety During a Pandemic

It’s that time of year again. The annual blood work and the mammogram. How am I coping? This year, I am not. I am drowning in the scanxiety.

Over the years I have written a few blog posts outlining the realities of scanxiety and even offered tips on what to do to alleviate the symptoms. But, how does one cope with scanxiety during a pandemic? I am home 24/7 and I struggle to rely on my regular distractions. It’s not possible in these times of uncertainty. I endeavor to find a balance of much-needed alone time for reflection and calm, and time with my child and husband. We are all home. We are all still in lockdown. We are all in each other’s constant company. We are all feeling anxious. My husband is working from home, and I want to ensure he is undisturbed and focused on his work, which means that I am with my 6-year old around-the-clock, and the demands are all too real – teaching, parenting, playmate – as well as guiding him through his roller coaster of emotions; and, as my mammogram draws very near, I am now experiencing a roller coaster of emotions. We are currently thriving in a dramatically-charged household. It is distressing and difficult.

This is a frightening time. We are all living in peril. We are all living in uncertainty. For that reason, I have been reluctant to share my deep-rooted angst, causing additional burden on my family and closest friends. And, because I am staying quiet, I am left stuck in my thoughts, overcome by the all-too-familiar fears, and reliving the experience through my senses: the hum of the machines, the coolness of the plates, the smell of the gel, the sombre expressions, and the sober directive … it comes back to me in waves, crashing into me over and over, these intense moments of scanxiety. It is not about what might happen when I enter that room on Monday. It is about what did happen. It is about the remembering…

Accompanying my scanxiety is the trepidation I feel as I approach a pivotal turning point in my life. This year marks my 5-year cancerversary. It’s a huge milestone within my journey, and I am approaching it alone, without the solace of my healing team. I cannot get my physical exam; I cannot get physiotherapy; I cannot get acupuncture; and I cannot get massage therapy. I am left feeling vulnerable and in persistent discomfort (I dislike using the word ‘pain’ for my chronic soreness). I will be ending my adjuvant therapy in the fall, and it is all happening so quickly – and all during a pandemic.

I recognize that I am at the tail-end of my treatment, and for that I am both relieved and frightened. Cancer – and the treatment of – is not ideal during a pandemic. Our bodies are compromised, which means that we are, in many ways, at a greater risk. We are cut-off from our healers, our family, our friends. We all have to traverse this journey on an altered and unfamiliar path, and we are doing it alone – whether at the beginning, the middle, or the end of treatment, we cannot keep our loved ones at our side. We are alone in those very vulnerable stages of biopsies, blood work, scans, surgery, and treatment. This is what makes the scanxiety – the overall anxiety – so much more intense.

These are not simple times.

I know that I will come out the other side of this scanxiety; and I know that we will get through this – all of this – because although we are alone in the trenches, we are never truly alone. Now, more than ever, is a time to reach out, even if we cannot touch.

We really do still have each other.

Scanxiety During a Pandemic. Published by Crystal Joy Hall

Featured Image: Maggie Chiang

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