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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The LungCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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