Sunday, 3 April 2011

Scanxiety - my new word of the day...

I love my new word. But, I have to admit with the utmost honesty and bare-faced cheek that I nicked it from some other blog. Whose ? I can't remember. I seem to spend far too much time these days surfing the net looking for blogs on oligometastases, breast cancer survivors and afro wigs - (always in that order) that it's hard to remember where I've left my footprint.

What exactly is Scanxiety ? Well, I think the marriage of the two words says it all. That feeling of absolute terror that you feel just before you're about to see your oncologist to get the results of your latest scan. You start to think about savouring the last moments of happiness and ignorance before your life possibly slides into the world of the 'last stages'. You scrutinise every ache and pain (real or psychosomatically imagined) and wonder if alarm bells should be ringing. You know that blissful moment just before you slide from the world of the conscious to the soporific state of slumber and surreal dreams ? Well, it's no longer filled with bliss. You start to dread that moment when your mind races off on its own journey just before you fall asleep. You start to resent having an imagination.

I felt exactly like this only a few days ago, just before the results of my latest CT scan. I had little reason to worry. My previous scan results had been good. They'd shown that the tumours were shrinking. Things were moving in the right direction. Only this time, I'd requested a brain scan - just in case there was something lurking there that shouldn't be. I felt fairly confident that everything would be okay,  but as the time for my appointment with the oncologist approached, I began to feel more anxious. Supposing I was wrong and they did find something ? Would chemo work this time round ? Would I need radiotherapy ? Could I still have my operation ? Would my prognosis suddenly take a nosedive ?

As it happened, I was lucky. My scan results were good. My tumour has shrunk by almost 90% of its original size. There are no brain mets, and the rest of my body looks fine.
Sitting in my oncologist's office, I sigh with relief and she looks puzzled. She can't understand why I should be so worried, since my last scans were ok. I tell her that I always am. Since being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, fear seems to have become a very good friend of mine. When I leave her office I feel happy, but in a guarded way. Having cancer the second time around has made me all too aware of how quickly the tide can turn.

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