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Many individuals experience scanxiety, both during treatment and throughout survivorship. Here is advice on how to talk to your friends and family about scanxiety.

S sitting in exam room looking anxious

Dear Friends and Family,

Part of living with my disease is that I regularly undergo scans and biopsies to make sure things are stable. After all I’ve been through, the possibility of getting bad news is terrifying. So much so that there’s an actual word for it: scanxiety. Scanxiety is exactly what you might guess: anxiety that occurs when thinking about, preparing for, going through, or waiting for results of scans or other tests.

Scanxiety can manifest itself in ways like having trouble sleeping or concentrating, playing out scenarios of what might happen, being easily irritated or emotional, isolating from others, just to name a few. I try hard to stay positive and not worry about something that hasn’t happened and that might turn out just fine, but it’s just not that easy.

Here are some things I’d like you to know and some possible ways you can help during times when I’m suffering from scanxiety

Don’t Downplay or “Bright Side” My Feelings.

Like other types of anxiety, scanxiety is a real thing and my emotions and reactions are legitimate. Even though I know your heart is in the right place, quoting statistics, asking me to look for the positives, or telling me that we could all get hit by a bus tomorrow, will not help.

Check In

Texts like, “I know you have a scan coming up this week. I’m happy to go with you if you’d like,” or “Thinking of you as you head in for your tests today. I’ll be home all day if you want to talk,” are helpful. Ending texts with “No need to reply,” also takes the pressure off.

Feel free to distract me as well. Invite me to a movie, come over for a visit, send me funny videos.

Be Patient

Know that even if the results are good, I may need a bit of time to recover from the weeks of build up I’ve just gone through. Please be patient.

Scans and tests are a part of my reality, as are the emotions that go along with them. Thank you for supporting me during seasons of scanxiety and everything in between! This road is hard, but it’s easier with help from you.

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