Waiting and Anxiety As My Constants
Last updated: September 2023
The targeted therapy I am on can treat my lung cancer but may harm other parts of my body. Aside from treatment, I have monthly blood tests, quarterly CT scans, and semi-annual brain MRIs. The results of these tests and scans take days or weeks to process. Thus, waiting comes into play throughout my cancer journey. It's true that waiting causes anxiety. Despite finding ways to pull away, they come and go. There are ways I set in place to minimize and face them head-on.
Communicating with my doctors to take on cancer and waiting-related anxiety
I have maintained honest communication with my cancer care team. From the beginning, my oncologist made it clear that he would let me know when the results are concerning or if they needed my attention. I put my trust in my cancer care team to relay the necessary and proper information. Besides, I have asked my cancer care specialist to put my family doctor in the loop. Hence, my family doctor knows what is going on as well.
How long do I have to wait for results?
With most blood tests, you get the results so quickly. But other blood tests may take days. My CT scans and brain MRIs take days or often weeks to result. Knowledge of the approximate time the results can minimize anxiety. I have quick notes on the estimated time they get to my cancer care specialist. The timing of my appointment with my oncologist and the timing of all the results are well-spaced. Having a calendar can show the pattern and timing.
Distractions from the cancer-related anxiety
The waiting period is hard. Sometimes I feel tired of yielding. But I find ways to distract my anxiety. Serving others through my lung cancer articles and moderation has given me benefits. Moreover, attending webinars relevant to lung cancer research and clinical studies is another engaging activity.
When those distractions aren't enough...
Once I cannot wait patiently, two things can help me ease the waiting-related anxiety. One of them is music. It can tune out and bring calmness. The words and melody of the music keep my focus on waiting. The second one is deep breathing which relaxes and calms my mind.
Forging a deeper connection with my body
Practicing hand massage works well too. YouTube posts easy-to-follow DIY techniques. From my employer's health benefits as well as my husband’s, we can get a remedial massage at least quarterly. The indoor spa place we go to has rainforest showers, a steam room, and a sauna room. Besides, we go to a Nordic outdoor spa-nature when it is not cold outdoors and get a remedial massage after the spa. It works well for recharging.
Research shows that exercise is helpful for those suffering from chronic anxiety. I have incorporated into my daily exercise lifting two-pound pairs of dumbbells, preferably in the morning or afternoon, gentle yoga before sleeping, short dancing using YouTube, and Qigong for better breathing and balance. When the weather is pleasant, I walk with my husband around our community. The smell of fresh air, nature sounds, and daylight bring my mind away from anxiety.
There are endless ways to beat anxiety that comes from waiting. Practice makes perfect. My goal is to control my body, space, and moment.
Happy Lung Cancer Awareness Month! What does self-advocacy mean to you?