Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Scanxiety

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If there is one feeling possibly worse than the possible diagnosis of cancer, it is the anticipation of a pending PET scan (the current standard for declaring a patient is in remission, or is still in remission).

I try not to publish two posts in one day, but a have several Facebook friends who are going through scans or receiving news about the results of their scans today through the upcoming weeks.  So, as one thing I have tried to justify my survivorship as a long term cancer survivor, I want to offer this hope.

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Many people reading “Paul’s Heart” are also members of on-line support groups as well as Facebook pages.  These support areas can be cancer specific, or cancer general.  And these can be a great tool from support to information.  But there has to be an awareness of balance if you subscribe to any of these groups.

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Here is the logic you need to understand.  If you did not have cancer, would you be on a support web list? Of course you would not.  If  you are dealing with cancer, would you be on a support list?  Most likely.  Unlike when I went through my treatments for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I never had the internet for support.  But then, what about the period of time, once you have heard, or expect to hear the word remission?  Would you still plan on participating on these support sites anymore?  There is a good likelihood not.  All we want as a cancer patient is to be done with it, once and for all.  Only the few, like me, stick around.  But for the most part, only people that need help, will seek help.

One of the biggest fears resulting from “scanxiety” is that a patient will not get to hear the word remission, or worse, hear the word relapse.  And these are real possibilities.  They do occur.  But if you participate in internet support groups, there are chances you will hear a lot more about relapses, than you will hear about long term cures.  And why would that be?  Someone who has been cured, like mentioned earlier, will most likely want to move on.  That patient has no need to be on an internet support group.  But the patient who is still dealing with cancer, or must deal with it again, will be on the internet.  So again, using logic, just because you cannot see all the long term cures, does not mean they are not there.  But in fact, they are there, in great numbers.  Over 12,000,000 of us.

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I do know how many of you are feeling right now.  In over 25 years, I have met thousands of cancer survivors, many of which I still hear from.  I know what each and every one of you feel, as you do the  mid-point scan, the post treatment scan, and all the other scans after that.  It does get easier.  You have to believe that what you have gone through is enough.  And here is where some tough love is going to come in… and if by some chance, you are still dealing with it… what are you going to do about it?  You are going to keep fighting because that is who you are.

If you have just completed scans recently, or will be getting them done soon, my thoughts are with each and every one of you.  I hope you all get to hear the word remission, or at least, the disease is decreasing.  From there, following the news of remission, will be the six month anniversary, the first anniversary, the fifth anniversary, the 10th, and then like me, the 25th!

Try not to be overwhelmed by what you see others going through.  They are going through their own battle.  You have one thing to do, get through that scan and get on that road of remission.  Speaking of which, a closing line I am known to use with people who reach remission…

“As I continue down the road of remission, I will keep looking in my rear view mirror to make sure that you are still following me.  And if you are not on that highway yet, hurry up.  Once you get on it, it’s a great ride!”

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