Writer, researcher, music lover, cancer survivor with CMMRD ("double" Lynch syndrome)

Scanxiety vs. zenxiety

I haven’t posted for a while because I haven’t had much inspiration to write and I’ve been busy with house-related things. I did finish writing my memoir and came closer than I’ve ever gotten to having a full-length book published, but it didn’t work out so I’m back at square one with that. Not very much news on the lit mag front either – I haven’t been submitting much but there is some of my stuff that has been accepted but not published yet, and with no date set, and some stuff that’s been out for ages with no response. Meanwhile I’ve closed Peeking Cat to submissions and it’s probably going to stay closed for a while as my PhD gets underway in October. But people keep submitting stuff, which is a bit pointless because I have to either reply saying we’re closed, or just delete it.

In other news, and the more obvious reason why I’m posting, I had a CT scan at the end of May and my consultant only just got the results back. I’m not sure exactly what the results are but I am being sent for a PET-CT scan for a closer look at something or other – the word glands was muttered but my consultant seemed unsure what was going on when I saw him. So I have to have a blood test and then a PET-CT and I don’t know if it’s because they think the cancer is still there or has come back, or if it’s nothing at all. Meanwhile I’m having my gastroscopy checkup at the end of the month and my consultant for this keeps going on about another polyp he thinks is still in there somewhere, but my first consultant thinks it’s not there anymore, and I don’t know if they’re talking about two different things. But anyway, consultant number two is gonna have a look for it and do whatever. I’m trying to be chill about it all, like whatever happens, happens. I was doing quite well with that until I found out about the PET-CT yesterday. Getting a letter or otherwise finding out about an appointment is the difference between having a good evening or not, crying myself to sleep or not, having bad dreams or not. So I really wish that had waited until Monday, as it would have made no difference if I had found out then, and I would have had a more peaceful weekend. And I am worried about all the plans I have for life now being thrown up in the air if it comes back. But whatever happens is going to happen. Back to trying to be zen. Zenxiety instead of scanxiety.

Also, fear is good. Some fear, anyway. When I went to Iceland with my parents earlier in the year, it was of course snowy and icy, and I was a bit worried about slipping over. But I think my mum was the most worried about that between the three of us – and she was the only one of us who didn’t almost end up on our butts. And it makes sense that the most worried person would be the most careful, and therefore get the best results out of the thing – the thing in this instance being walking over ice in -12 degrees celcius. Fear made my mum careful – she was able to control her movements and take great care, and be successful. It’s a bit like how scanxiety is actually good for us, in a way. Yeah, it feels pretty awful. And yes, we can’t control whether or not the cancer actually comes back – just like we can’t control whether or not the ground is slippery. But we can control how we approach it – by taking small steps. Fear makes us vigilant, fear makes us pay attention. Fear of falling over makes us buy shoes with good grip, hold onto each other, walk carefully, slow down. Fear of recurrence makes us go to every appointment, keep our medical professionals organised (sometimes they do need organising), follow up on any body changes or symptoms, and try to somehow protect ourselves emotionally and mentally from the effects of being a cancer survivor (still working on that one). Fear makes us careful, and maybe at the end of it all, fear makes us.


  1. Emma

    Sending love, you always approach these things with an amazing attitude xx

    • writersamr

      Thank you <3 Will keep you updated!

  2. Liz Johnson

    Great piece about the angst we all go through in the gulf between “it might be something” and “it’s nothing.” If it helps at all, I’ve had numerous things show up on a CT Scan that don’t show up on a PET scan. I’ve decided that until someone can actually confirm that it’s truly cancer, I refuse to worry about it. And why does it take months to get results from a scan? That’s inhumane. Hang in there!

    • writersamr

      Thank you Liz, that does help to know! Refusing to worry about it until you know for sure is a good approach, I think. Wishing you peace of mind.

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