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Follow-ups - dealing with stress

Follow-ups - dealing with stress

Posted by jennifer_m on May 7, 2019 1:43 pm

Hi everyone - what are your tips and strategies for managing stress and anxiety in advance of oncologist follow up appointments? My partner finished radiation last fall and his first round of post-treatment scans showed no recurrence, which was great news. Now he has to go for follow-ups every three months (for the first year after treatment, I think), and I find that as the next follow-up appointment gets closer, the stress level increases. For those who are farther along this process, what do you do to manage the fear of recurrence? 

Re: Follow-ups - dealing with stress

Posted by Brighty on May 7, 2019 3:43 pm

‍ @Lacey_adminCCS‍  @Jenniferm   sorry having trouble tagging.    This is for Jennifer m.    The only thing you can do is continue to live your life as normal as possible.    Distract yourself  by doing the things you love... go to movies.. continue  with your hobbes . ... exercise.. treat yourself... go to work and focus on what you're doing  at the moment.     Live in the moment and day by day.     The other ulternative is that you drive yourself crazy with thoughts of things you have no control over.    A lot of self talk... say to yourself whatever  happens I can deal with it... I've done it so far and I can do it again if I have to.    You are strong.       I'm so glad to hear the news about no recurrance! !! 

Re: Follow-ups - dealing with stress

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on May 7, 2019 4:09 pm

Hi jennifer_m‍ 
How good of you to reach out on behalf of your partner. The waiting to go for followups and then the waiting to hear results can be a challenging time - so much so that it is often referred to as scanxiety. Certainly the first year was the worst for me. I am now 8 years post treatment and if I am being honest, I still come down with a case of scanxiety now and again. The intensity and the frequency has diminished for sure, but every now and then when there is an ache or pain or weird bump - or whatever it may be - that will creep in. One mantra that works to calm me down most times is "what do I know to be true right now". In other words - I know I am healthy until told otherwise so try to let that be the focus rather than the what-ifs. Far easier said than done I realize but talking to oneself with these words can help take one off the ledge so to speak.
Other than that distraction is key - keeping himself busy with reading, outings, hobbies etc will distract the brain if only temporarily but non-stop worry is very tiring. He may also find he needs to let it go by talking to someone and then moving on so being that sounding board for him when you are able will be great.

i am sure others will chime in with their techniques as well.
Wishing him well with his followup.

Let us know how it goes if you are able

Lianne

PS - I found this online and thought you might find it interesting https://powerfulpatients.org/2018/07/24/coping-with-scanxiety-practical-tips-from-cancer-patients/
 

Re: Follow-ups - dealing with stress

Posted by Cynthia Mac on May 8, 2019 9:25 am

Hi, jennifer_m‍ , I’m not even going to ask if it’s his anxiety or yours as his caregiver, because that doesn’t matter: both people feel it!

I use a lot of affirmations. I have a book that correlates an affirmation for different physical and emotional conditions. For anxiety it is, “I trust the process of life. I am safe.” You can direct affirmations to another, as well, so if your husband is anxious, you can affirm, “He trusts the process of life. He is safe.” 

I was talking with a friend the other day who has a high-stress job. She has recently taken a course on mindfulness. I’ve used some of those techniques, too. That is a case of saying to yourself, “This thing I am stressing about is not happening now,” then focussing on something that IS happening now: “I am chopping carrots,” “I am taking a deep breath,” or whatever you are doing in that moment.

Anxious thoughts are thoughts that can be changed. Meanwhile, I hope everything goes well at your husband’s appointment.
 

Re: Follow-ups - dealing with stress

Posted by ACH2015 on May 10, 2019 2:20 pm

jennifer_m‍ 

Hi Jennifer,

Like the saying goes "time heals all wounds", and I know for me that's from both the physical and mental perspective.

I like to frame follow up tests and consults as preventative medicine. Yes, I've suffered both a recurrence and multiple treatments after the first round of cancer. But, I can't help but think of how much worse it may have been for me if I had not been proactive.

Along with my quarterly CT surveillance scans, I now have bi annual gastroscopes to keep an eye on the Barrett's Esophagus that was discovered shortly after my initial CUP diagnosis. I've also had a recent investigative colonoscopy in relation to my last (March) CT scan. So far, I'm happy to say I'm "all clear", but if something shows up - I'd rather know sooner than later. My belief is the sooner something is found, the better the prognosis along with a less invasive treatment plan.

We don't have much control over what is coming down the road, but being diligent along with keeping a healthy outlook in all facets of our lives makes the difference for me. Yep, I felt like I got hit by the same truck (again) after my recurrence, but after almost three years since the initial recurrence - I've learned to out that worry a little further back in my mind.

Perhaps speak with your partner, and find out what exactly the fear / anxiety stems from. Understanding and hopefully changing the perspective from being fear / anxiety based to that of being proactive might help. I know the more I talk about my concerns and share with others, the easier I find it to work things out in my mind and make peace with my fears. I also want to add, we can't change what we are facing, but we can control how we respond to and deal with that information.

Keep well Jennifer, I hope this helps.

I am glad to hear the first round of post treatment scans were clear. That is the best news possible.

ACH2015 - Andy.