So far I have had an amazing year but as I knew at the beginning of the year when August/ September came around I will be hitting a wall of anxiety. I will shortly be having my yearly routine scans and it doesn't get any easier the further down the line you are still clear from the horrible C.
I want to share how I deal with scanxiety and how I overcome the scary thoughts of what if?
Scanxiety is real, it's a process that all cancer fighters and survivors face.
When I went for my first ever scan/X-ray before I was diagnosed I was so oblivious to the fact that I could have cancer. I didn't think anything of it if I'm being truthful, but now it's an experience that I wish I never have to go through but it is part of my journey. It's a way for the professionals to keep an eye on us "after care".
I have mine coming up and here's a few tips on how I overcome scanxiety.
The thoughts of what if will always be there no matter how much you try and push it to the back of your mind. I try to focus on imagining the cancer not being anywhere in my body and knowing my own body and how I feel. I exercise to relive stress and take my mind to another place. I will always push the professionals for a definite date so I can mentally prepare myself. The days leading up to my scan I will always keep busy either blogging for myself, my boutique or just getting away for a few days to clear my mind ready to face the machines.
Whilst waiting for results you will find yourself going over situations that have not yet happened and may not happen. It's human nature to think what if. I always put myself through a lot of stress thinking about my daughter and what would she be like without me. I have now turned this into a positive, I know if for some reason I was not around for her I have done my best by her and through me being strong she has turned into an amazing little girl (sometimes a terror but what kids aren't). I have always stuck by the belief that if you have a positive mind and outlook even when faced with hell, you can overcome so much.
Distractions & comforts
The day before my scans I have a routine which involves a chocolate twirl and can of full fat coke (yes full fat). For some reason this keeps me calm and helps with my nerves. I have dabbled with vodka before a scan but only if I am not driving. I'm not saying this is the best way to calm your nerves but it helps me. Each and every person is different so do what is best for you. When I am in the room having scans I always think of my daughter and the silly things she does. Looking back on good times when you are facing anxiety certainly calms me and for a split second I forget where I am.
Laugh out load
The worst part for anyone having scans is the waiting. This can take up to 2 weeks and the last scans I had I was waiting over a week to get my results and it was a tough time for me and my family. Thankfully I was all clear but for those 9 days my life was on hold. You just need to spend time with the people who make you forget that you had the scans, forget that you had or have the cancer. I was lucky to have people around me who made me laugh a hell of a lot.
Make a list of what you want to do and accomplish. This will set a precedence going forward and will give you something to aim for and think about whilst waiting for results. I did this whilst I was in hospital with septasima and it has given me a purpose and a guide to help me through life. I never used to be a person who planned and to be honest I am still not but the things I want to achieve are set and it's exciting.
Let it out
Always talk to someone about how you feel. Sometimes it's helpful to speak with someone who you know but they are not effected by the situation so much. This can give you more of an outlet as I found I can express more without effecting loved ones too much. When letting your emotions out with the people you care about the most often puts extra pressure on you as you don't want to upset them. I found I was more worried about others than myself.
Tears never hurt anyone
It's ok to cry! I should really take a leaf out of my own book with this one but I have never been an emotional person. Crying doesn't show weakness, it shows you care and need an outlet. I will have an angry cry every now and then, not to feel sorry for myself but just for my loved ones, especially my daughter. Why has she had to endure this in her few years on this earth. I find putting my head under a pillow and screaming helps with my frustrations. It takes me back to my teenage years when I couldn't get my own way with my mum. I always feel much better when I have had an angry cry and I can move on with my day.
Professionals are always there to listen and for guidance. My Macmillan nurse has been an angel and the information and support she has provided me with is amazing and I'm sure they will continue to provide this service to other cancer patients etc. They are impartial and can provide that stability and professionalism that sometimes we need.
Looking back on your journey always puts things in perspective and shows you how far you have come and how strong you are. I have got this far so why can't I carry on. I have faced death and not seeing my loved ones again so why shouldn't I be proud and hold my head high. To help me I look back at photos I took and Timehop is perfect for this. I see how bald I was, how ill I was and how it effected my loved ones but this only makes me more determined to live my best life.
Scanxiety isn't just for cancer patients or survivors, it's for anyone having scans and waiting for results. It's in our nature to worry but if we keep our chins up and have a positive mind, we can overcome the impossible!