Scanxiety Round 1

Semi-exciting news: I’ve decided to get my masters degree from UNL. Although the this is great for obvious reasons, the significance of extends beyond just grad school.

I think back to around February of this year, I don’t remember where I was going, but I was riding in the backseat of my parents car. I was so irritated that they were pushing me to apply to UNL and get my degree. What I was refusing to vocalize, knowing I wouldn’t be able to spit out the one sentence without choking into tears, was that if I only had a couple years left to live, I didn’t want to spend them in a classroom, not being able to indulge in every fun thing that came my way. When I was on my deathbed, I didn’t want to think of the opportunities I missed, and the laughs I said no to, only to be locked up in a room with a textbook.

This summer, both my supervisor and the executive director at my work place left. They were such a strong support system for me. I felt lost in my place of work, and like I had lost a huge support system. As much as I wasn’t ready, this was the first big change I had to deal with since my recovery.

Although a part of me was bitter, another part knew this was just the right time for me to re-evaluate where I was going in the real world. I had to refocus on my mindset from last year: do the best you can with what you’ve got.

Career-wise, I figured I have a long way to go. I was beginning to hide behind cancer as a way to not push myself. Life was moving on, and I was trying to stay put.

I know how terrifying it feels to be stuck, helpless with little to no back-up plan. I will not be put in that situation again.

I’m also cleaning out places in my life that don’t make me feel good: people who bring out my bad parts, activities that make me frustrated and angry.

Which leads to another big change in 2015: no more volleyball. When I was in treatment, I missed it so much. All I wanted was to be back on the court. But now, I’m looking around and feel angry that I’m there. Angry when we play bad, angry I’m missing other events, angry it’s not what I remembered.

I’m now reserving my Thursday nights for professional/social activities. I want new friends, I want momentum. I want to be creating my future, not waiting for it to happen to me. I’m beginning to feel stagnant.

As good as it feels to be looking several years out again, a much closer threat looms: my annual CT scan.

I’ve convinced myself that my 3-month blood draws aren’t going to be accurate, because they’ve never been, so I’ve never gotten too worked-up about results. I could justify my CT scans the same way, but they will always be my big marker. I’ve brushed off worries until scan day, but now that day is very close.

January 6 to be exact. In an attempt to distract myself and look beyond, I’ve booked my port removal surgery for the day after on January 7. But, “scanxiety” still looms.

There have already been several nights when I’m just awake enough after my 4am bathroom run that my mind can wander. Usually, I can distract myself enough with a couple hours of netflix or reading and can fall back asleep. Occasionally, I get trapped in my head, anxiety taking over while I smother my sobs into a soaked pillow.

I calm down. I fall back asleep. I wake up and life goes on.

I’m revisiting the techniques I learned last year to calm my nervous and minimize my stress levels. I’m trying to get into a pattern of meditating, though I’m still looking for a decent place to clear my head inside my house. I drink night-time tea immediately if I wake up, while trying very hard not to look at a clock. I’m investing in ‘natural’ and less chemically-offensive cleaning products, and trying to stick to the organic produce. I bought a humidifier, which I can add ‘essential oils’ – anything to make me me feel like I can control what will happen in about a month.

My tactics seem to be working, I’ve been sleeping pretty soundly the last several weeks.

Maybe I shouldn’t have already signed up for the GRE. Maybe I’m just doing every thing I can to convince myself next year will be just as normal. Another motto from 2014: leave no stone unturned at the end of the day. If I find out I still just can’t do grad school, I know I tried. If my Thursday nights turn into a drag, I won’t be stuck in decisions every week.

No more waiting, let’s start doing.

Author: Clarissa A.

The older I get, the less I know.

3 thoughts on “Scanxiety Round 1”

  1. Nice blog post, my dear Enforcer (I mean THE Enforcer)… Interestingly enough, feeling anxiety is normal. How about that? A consistent, common, run-of-the mill feeling when preparing for a scan in the world of cancer. Anxiety validates that you are, in fact, quite alive and doing well. You are doing all the right things to keep things in perspective and keeping the craziness at bay. Writing always helped me during these emotionally nerve wracking times; that and wearing a special “scanxiety” hat to warn those around me to beware of my fragile sanity. Oddly enough, people driving on the roads weren’t tuned in… big mistake. “Elf” seemed to help tremendously, too! We’ll be thinking of you, sending lots of love and hugs. Keep on doing!

  2. I love hearing about your thoughts and feelings Claire! You are doing great with self awareness!!! I salute you! You inspire me! Much Love to you!

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