I first heard of the term "scanxiety" from Nalie, a super fab and strong cancer survivor blogger that I follow. It refers to the anxiety that you feel leading up to a scan and the waiting period that makes you feel restless while anticipating the results.
I may call myself an inspirational influencer with a WINNING mindset but at the end of the day, I'm still very much human. And my scanxiety goes up the roof especially if it's partnered with global controversies, adulting issues and personal concerns outside of the health department.
Just like this week.
Bush fires in Australia, Taal volcano's eruption, Corona virus outbreak, Kobe's death and those innocent souls... WHOA! What is going on?! What a challenge to stay uplifted hearing all these devastating news happening in the world!!!
In tandem with my first Zometa infusion this week that knocked me down the day after (details on what this drug is about in my YouTube video link on the right!) and my scans moved earlier than planned because of a slight increase in my tumor marker test results, my head has been going bonkers for days now.
But just like the American approach on doing things, why focus on the problems when you can come up with solutions to manage them instead? So allow me to share what I do to manage that nagging crazy feels just before scans come up and waiting for results.
1) Acknowledge the feeling even if it's scary AF. You have no idea how many times I say, "I'm scared, I'm worried, I'm nervous, I'm going bananas!" while teary eyed in my car as I drive to my appointments. Acknowledging how you truly feel gives you the power to release it instead of holding it in. Yes, it may be unpleasant and yes it can get freaky but it's the first step to letting go. The more you suppress your human feelings and pretend that you're okay, the more it will build up and hit you back with a harder meltdown later on. So no shame in keeping it real! Release them now instead of letting it eat you up later.
2) Talk it out with someone. I've established friendships everywhere in the world because of my previous nomad lifestyle. So 24 hours 'round the clock, I have someone to ping via Viber or WhatsApp who lets me vent out my fears, worries, and doubts based on time difference. Of course, I ask for permission first if they can be my sounding board for the moment and if given the GO signal, I exhale to them out loud. And if I'm truly in need of a real time face to face conversation? Mom is always a Viber video call away or an appointment with a therapist is another alternative.
3) Let it out and channel that energy physically. I read somewhere that the energy you create with worry is the same energy you create with excitement. So why not use that fear into a physical activity that you enjoy? Mine would be dancing around, hot yoga, brisk walking and boxing. For others, it could be Zumba, pilates, going for a run, having great sex or doing hula hoops. Whatever rocks your socks, go for it! Not only are you easing your anxiety but you're also keeping yourself healthy. Bring your partner or your buddy too to make it a fun bonding experience!
4) Create, don't hate. If you're a creative nerd like me, then no need to explain this one. Making art is therapeutic. Why do you think I maintained this blog since I got diagnosed even if I don't really earn from it? For the sheer pleasure that it gives me a space to create and share. Creating something allows you to stay focused and centered instead of getting too carried away with your feelings. And best of all, if you get lucky, it can inspire or help others, go viral or make you money! So instead of hating the negative emotions that go with scanxiety, draw, write, knit, crochet, cook, shoot, sew, embroider, sing, dance... squeeze out those creative juices! Not only is your creation gonna be fun, but the back story that goes with it will be even more interesting!
5) Think of the best and worst case scenario. I always think, "Best case scenario, I'm off the hook. Miracle happened. Scans are clear. Tests are all favorable. I'm okay. God is great! YAY!!! Worst case, it's gone bad. Treatment is not working. Scans are alarming. OH MY GOD!!! But wait... there's new medical advancements every single day. And I have loved ones, amazing medical team, prayer warriors and social media followers who's got my back. And God has a plan. If it's my time to go, it's my time to go no matter what I do or don't do. And I'm living life everyday with a good intention to make the world a better place even in my own little way. So I'm doing my best, and God will do the rest." Those thoughts alone just put me in a state of surrender to the Higher Power. In the end, knowing that He calls the shots diffuses the scanxiety.
6) Take very very good care of yourself. Going through scanxiety can be tough on your physical and emotional well-being. It brings you to a flight or flight mode similar to standing next to a tiger staring at you and you wonder if you should run or stay still to survive. Lots of cortisol, the stress hormone gets released which isn't good for your system. So it's during this time that I spoil myself as a form of reward for being diligent with my medical appointments. I binge on my favorite meal, get a massage or do affordable retail therapy just to give myself some star points for staying brave amidst the uncertainty. I guess that's where the childfree life comes in handy... no guilt in occasional self-love overdose!
7) Stay still, breath, meditate, pray. After releasing it all out via talking, crying, walking, creating and self-indulging, I come to the hardest challenge of just staying very still, focusing on my breath, and connecting back to the source. Just like what I mentioned on #5, I still believe in a God that governs all things and that life has a natural cycle. So resting in the knowledge that someone up there has absolute control on everything and all I have to do is be the best person I can be today is enough. And the rest is up to Him.
8) Keep the faith, it ain't over 'til it's over. When scanxiety still messes with my mind despite all these techniques, I look at myself in the mirror and say, "Trust your tiny, strong body, Jaymee. You've been through a lot and you're still here doing yoga, working in the library, building your American Dream, experiencing great relationships, living an independent life, functioning, breathing, creating and living! Have faith in your body! She's pulling you through." Yup, until that stubborn heart of mine is beating, I'll continue to move forward, keep on WINNING my daily battles and inspire someone, somehow, somewhere to do the same. :)