Scanxiety

I discovered a new word the other day…

scanxiety
n. 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!
Usage: His scanxiety, though suppressed, grew as he awaited his next scan in the certain knowledge that hyperscanxiety would cut in as soon as the scan was over as he awaited the results!

I can relate! Just returned from the hospital following another CT scan. I’m becoming well acquainted with this machine! It’s a couple of months since my last scan and we’re pretty keen to know what’s been going on in the interim. Especially as we’ve backed off the serious chemotherapy in this time.

Scans are my reality check. They provide the best evidence for what’s going on inside. The experts can compare scans to determine whether the tumours are growing, shrinking, spreading, or just staying much the same. Whatever’s going on, they provide objective information on which to base decisions about my treatment. This is so important, because the externals can give a false picture. Having had less chemo and having returned from a couple of weeks in the Queensland sun, people have been saying “You’re looking so well!” Maybe, but this doesn’t mean I’ve been getting better! That remains to be seen.

I’ve experienced my share of anxiety in the face of scans, but overall I think I look forward to them. Not totally sure, but I’m keen to know what we’re dealing with. Even though the scans remind me of the harsh reality that I have cancer, I’d prefer to deal with the facts. I don’t want to be flying blind. And I know that worrying won’t do me any good. I’m not going to get a better outcome by becoming more anxious. If anything, it’ll make things worse.

God’s word provides me with good reasons for not being anxious and a good alternative when anxiety creeps in. Jesus said these words to his followers in the famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (Matthew 6:25-27)

Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

These are excellent reasons not to be overcome by scanxiety or any other form of anxiety. Worrying is a normal response to fear and uncertainty, but it’s what we do with those worries that matters most. We are invited to pray – to share our worries with our Father in heaven. God knows me more precisely than any scan will reveal and he has my life in his loving hands. Rather than placing my hope in CTs and doctors and chemo and special targeted therapies, I will put my hope in God. I will hand my anxieties over to him. I will tell him my wants and desires, and trust him to meet all of my needs. I will ask him to guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.

3 thoughts on “Scanxiety”

  1. One of the many things in the category of “stuff you taught me but which I am still learning” — and it might even have been in the context of Philippians 4 — is that one should not only pray for others but then tell them that one has prayed for them. So, I admit it: the things you prayed for, I also prayed for you. And this wasn’t the first time.

  2. Dave, a little know fact about me is that I was diagnosed with a brain tumour when I was 19. Though it is benign, I have faced the MRI machine every 2 years for nearly the past 20 years to ensure that surgery is not required. It is sobering and for me, has been a solitary and lonely way of marking time. I agree, it is better to know the risks. Take care you do not isolate yourself from your loved ones. At present I see no risk of that. For me, facing illness at a young age put up real barriers between me and my own fears and sharing those fears constructively with others. You have shown real courage.

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