4am Wednesday 25th July
I feel sick. It’s just past 4am and I’m lying awake stressing about what next week’s annual checkup will bring. I can’t sleep. I can barely breathe. My heart is thumping out of my chest. It takes everything I have to deny the full blown panic attack that’s threatening to bubble up from my stomach.
Next week will bring my first annual check up. I’m not really sure what to expect. There will definitely be a physical examination. I know I’ll be given the results of the mammogram I had a couple of weeks ago. I’m also expecting some kind of assessment of my emotional well-being. I’m hoping that I will be calmer by then because the way I feel now, that part of my checkup is not going to go all that well!!
Scanxiety set in just over 2 weeks ago when I started to think about having a “surveillance” mammogram. More precisely it was when I started to think about hearing the results of the mammogram.
I’m not sure whether I even knew about Scanxiety before I got cancer myself. Why would I? I was oblivious – and wish I still was. Unfortunately I can confirm that Scanxiety is very real. It’s also incredibly debilitating. Fear of the mammogram results takes me right back to my diagnosis and hearing the words “breast cancer” for the first time. It forces me into thinking about the absolute worst moment of my life – and I try not to go back there if I can help it. But I can remember my heart fall into the pit of my stomach. I can remember feeling like I’d been punched hard. I’m scared now because I’m not sure I could go through it all again. If it’s back, and I have no reason to think it is, then it may just break me. I’m not strong enough to do it again.
But in a few days I will have answers and the waiting will be over. For now I must get up, pull myself together, put my smile on and get through another day at work.
4pm Saturday 28th July
There’s still 4 days to go until I get my mammogram results. Or at least I thought there was. But today, I arrived home to a familiar white envelope on the mat. Unfortunately, I can spot hospital letters a mile off these days. I’m not expecting any new appointments so I’m 95% sure this has to be about the mammogram I had 2 weeks ago. The knot of anxiety in my stomach returns with a vengeance, my heart races and I can feel the blood pounding in my head. What if it’s bad news? Surely it must be bad news – I see Mr Taylor next week. Good news can wait, bad news needs fast action. My fingers try to open the envelope but they won’t work properly and I realise I’m shaking. Please, please don’t let the cancer be back. I eventually rip the envelope open and the letter falls out onto the floor. The words jump off the page: “no worrying features on either side”. Relief floods through my entire body. This is epic. This is what I was praying for. I can feel at most of the tension leave my body.
I’ve still got my annual check to go through but given these results, surely there can’t be too much to worry about now?
3pm 1st August
Being back in this waiting room is hideous. I’m being totally irrational and worrying about all kinds of nonsense. But I just can’t help it. I just want this checkup over. I want everything to be ok. I want to be sent away with a “see you next year”. Please.
4pm 1st August
As I knew already everything is fine. Physical exam supports the mammogram results – nothing at all to worry about. At least physically. Emotionally, I’m on a bit of a “journey” still coming to terms with everything that’s happened over the last 18 months. But that’s ok and perfectly normal. There’s help and support out there in the form of Breast Cancer Haven – I just have to take advantage of it! The important thing is I got the “see you next year” that I was hoping for!