Yes it is a made up word. Sort of the “affluenza” of the cancer set.
The word may be made up but what it represents is real. Very real.
Basically, scanxiety is the anxious feeling anyone who has had cancer experiences when they go in for their annual scan. Which I did two weeks ago. The scan itself is an easy procedure. They take some blood. You get in the machine and the “bed” slides through the donut hole scanner and they take pictures of your innards. They do this a couple of times. With and without “contrast dye.” The dye is injected through an IV and it makes you flush with heat in very specific areas of your body… neck, throat, naughty parts. I was told one 90 year-old man asked to have the dye repeated a few times as it was a fond reminder of days gone by.
Then you’re done. You leave. They take the results and send them to be read by a trained reader and your Doctor. They read the scans and you wait for the appointment in a few weeks to get their feedback. And during those days/weeks…
You just wait.
It’s not a great feeling knowing that someone has some information that is either GREAT!!! or devastating. I’m not talented enough a writer to describe the feeling so I’ll do what other great artists do – steal.
I read this on Tom Roush’s blog the other day. No clue who Tom is but his description is dead on.
It’s like every six months, someone holds a gun to your head, and they slowly squeeze the trigger. You can hear the springs in the gun compressing, you feel the muzzle shake a little as their muscles quiver, and you tense up, anticipating the explosion. Adrenaline pours through your body. You try to keep from shaking, from crying, because the gun exploded twice before, and you don’t want to go through that again.
This time, there’s a loud “click” of the hammer slamming down on an empty chamber. Just that sound explodes in your ears. Every muscle in your body jolts tight as the sound echoes – then rings away.
I’ve not yet heard the explosion Tom talks about. I’m lucky that way. But each scan I get every year from now until who knows, I will have to listen for that explosion. The possibility never goes away. It is always there and it is always rough.
I had my appointment the other day to get the results from my scan.
No explosion. No bullet. All clear.
I now get to look forward to another 365 day reprieve before I have the gun put to my head again and I wait to hear the hammer’s impact. The results this time left me with a little scotch in my glass and a lot of relief in my heart. Next time I don’t know. I will just have to wait…
Until next year.