pina colada sitting in the sand on the beach

Taking a Break from the “Rules”

Since I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve been a very good rule follower. I’ve scheduled all my appointments including labs, CT scans, brain MRIs, and bone strengthener infusions exactly when recommended by my oncologist. I’ve never missed a dose of my targeted therapy medications. I’ve written down all questions I have between scans to bring to my quarterly appointments. Basically, I’ve tried to be a perfect patient. I think I have some deep seated belief that if I follow all the rules and become the “perfect” cancer patient, I’ll be as successful in suppressing my cancer as I was in school. Let’s see if I can get an A+ in cancer — haha!

A wave of scanxiety

In the week before my most recent set of scans, I had a pre-scan bout of scanxiety that was definitely much more than usual. I was not a fun person to be around; my tension translated into being really short-tempered at home with my family and pretty low in patience in general. Why did I feel this way? I wasn’t even sure why at the time myself but I’ve spent some time thinking about this experience since I received my scan results (all good!) and I think I’ve figured out the reason.

My upcoming 5-year cancerversary

My 5-year cancerversary will be December 26, 2018 and that’s a big deal to me. However, staying on my quarterly schedule of appointments and scans means that in addition to my most recent appointment, I would need to have one more set of scans right before my 5-year milestone. My husband and boys have been talking about a winter break trip to celebrate my 5 years, but I refused to plan it or even talk about it prior to my latest scans. It felt like bad luck. I decided that if these scans were good, I was going to ask my oncologist if I could postpone my usually quarterly scans an extra month and a half until January, after my cancerversary.

Allowing myself to break the "rules"

Even this THOUGHT of going against the “rules” threw me for a loop. I got really nervous that planning to ask for an extension if I had good scans would give me bad juju and result in bad scans. This doesn’t make rational sense, I know, but it’s hard to be rational and not superstitious when you have scanxiety. Anyway, I made it to my appointment, was blessed with stable scans, and tentatively asked my oncologist if I could postpone my next scans until January. She had absolutely no problem with it and I was relieved that she didn’t seem horrified that I would ask such a question!

So, I’ve been granted permission to break the rules now and I think I feel pretty ok about it. I’m planning to be sitting with my family on a beach somewhere, sipping a fruity drink with an umbrella to celebrate 5 years.

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