I meant to blog about writing. I’ve been plowing along with my various projects, checking tasks off Asana like the organized, chaos wrangler tha I am.

It’s funny how one piece of paper can knock progress off the rails.

I was paying bills (that’s always fun, right?) and my stack of medical bills from last year’s cancer adventure was begging for their monthly feeding. I briefly celebrated paying off one of them (ONE, mind you). I ripped into the next one which oddly enough was from the same provider.

It wasn’t a bill.

It was a reminder: it’s time for another round of cancer testing. It’s been four months since my last round of tests. Insurance and various hoops mean that I have to start scheduling and getting authorizations about two months in advance.

So, I just paid off ONE of the four bills from the tests and procedures in March & April of 2018 … just in time to add charges for 2019 … which will probably take me more than a year to pay off. (Cue financial depression.)

Maybe if I shake it…

But worse than the financial woes (because my insurance is awesome and it could be a million times worse) is the sudden anxiety. My focus is off, my creative well has slowed to a trickle, and I’m not sleeping well–at all.

Cancer sucks. It’s one of those universal truths.

But what we don’t talk about is what happens after cancer.

After it’s “cured”. That weird, ever-present anxiety that creeps up on you and doubles-down around testing.

But [cancer] always follows me. I try to fake it out by pretending things are OK. If I pretend, I can sort of believe it too, for a time. So I pulled [my friend] into fantasyland with me, until I couldn’t.

-Mary Valle, Why cancer isn’t over after you’re ‘cured’ (Guardian)

Surviving is awesome and I’m grateful, please don’t get me wrong. three family members died from an advanced stage of the same cancer as me. My dad slipped away in front of me after fighting a related cancer for months.

I was lucky to be diagnosed early–very early.

My treatment plan involved a couple of simple outpatient surgeries. No chemo, no radiation, just snip-snip and “take it easy for a few days”. (Okay well, not exactly for the first surgery. Complications landed me a nice overnight stay in the hospital but I was home the next day.)

But what no one warns you about are the bouts of depression. The fear that pops up out of nowhere. The survivor’s guilt that morphs back into anxiety in a weird never-ending loop.

Things weren’t as great as we’d hoped during my last test. I’d expected a glowing “all clear, see you in a year!” (Ha! That rhymes!) Instead, I was told I’d have to have another test in six-months “just in case” as things were okay but “still a little concerning”.

So here I am, months later with my testing notice in hand, fired up with a case of scanxiety. (Apparently, it’s a thing.)

Instead of sleeping, I find myself running through possible scenarios. I walk myself through the test (super fun). I mentally schedule clients around a not-yet-existing test date and try to figure out how to fit everything in while still giving myself time to recover.

Then the what-ifs start.

Fortunately, I’ve found that I’m not alone. Scanxiety is pretty common–although I would have loved a heads-up from my healthcare providers. I’ve found blogs, articles, lots of people living in the same cycle, feeling the same weird ass mix of hot mess.

To be a cancer patient is to be forever at the mercy of medical math.

Tara Brown, Scanxiety, or how waiting for cancer tests makes you crazy (Boing, Boing)

I feel less anxious when I can DO something–it’s the waiting that gets me. I guess my next step is answering that damn letter.

What about you? Know any scanxiety sufferers? Do you have any sort of medical-related anxiety? It can’t be just a cancer survivor thing, there are tons of trauma-inducing medial issues out there. What are your go-to coping mechanisms?


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