Real talk about Scanxiety

You can’t avoid it. So, let’s be honest about scanxiety. Here are some ways that four different families living with terminal illness cope just before doctor’s appointments and scans.  No matter your family dynamic, finding a friend or relative to discuss your upcoming appointments with is helpful.  If you don’t have a caregiver, be sure to reach out to us at IoH, and we can connect you with other single parents who understand.


  • “We have conversations before each scan. Everytime we go in, we have a plan and are prepared. We have questions ready for different scenarios, and are equipped to find out the next steps, where to go, etc. We approach it pragmatically. We will get news, one way or the other, so we have decided to get ready for either. Some people are more like, “let’s not talk about it until we hear,” but then those people are too shocked to ask questions. Our approach doesn’t make the anxiety any less–I don’t think you can–but when you come out, at least you asked the right questions.”


  • “Oh, we suppress it until two weeks before, then start freaking out. By the time we are at the doctor’s office we’ve totally freaked out. No matter how good things have been going, once the doctor enters the room, there is a 50-50 chance that we are either going to go back to our normal life, or it is going to be completely turned upside down.  Life is never the same after a cancer diagnosis. But, even as we worry, we will say this: In the moment, lots of people don’t want to talk, but it does help to be able to verbalize what you are going through and to have a community. IoH helps with both of those things.  While the experiences will be unique to each person, having someone who can empathize with you is huge. Reach out to others.”


  • “We rely on each other. When we are having a bad day, we admit it. After appointments, we always get a copy of the disc and pull it up and see what we think.” 


  • “We have an established ritual in place and go to the same restaurant after each appointment. No matter the news, I know that at least I’ll get the seafood soup. I think it helps to have a positive ritual like that. If nothing else, you know what you are doing immediately after the news is delivered and that gives you a little space to process.” 


Do you have tips for others facing scanxiety? Please share with us at IoH