- 39 years old
- Original diagnosis age 31, diagnosed metastatic age 36
- Visalia, California
- Bone mets throughout body
- PET scan every 3-4 months
I don’t fear the scans themselves. In fact, I have had them so frequently the last three years, that I often manage to nap while it is going on. It’s the waiting. I typically do not receive scan results for 3-4 days following my test. During that time, I picture every possible worst case scenario, even if I feel relatively fine. The fear is what makes it hard to function, because even if you are pretty sure this time will be okay, you know the time is coming when it won’t be. I try to deal with it by staying busy and plan things to do so I am not just sitting there thinking. The thoughts creep in and cause the most helpless feeling as you’re at the mercy of the universe.
I am fortunate. My oncologist will sometimes pop his head into the room while I am waiting for him to give me my results and say “looks great, I’ll be in momentarily.” The relief that floods through my body weighs me down before giving way to euphoria. It’s an indescribable feeling. Hearing the opposite is also hard. The word progression may be the most hated in my life and those of my friends. Scanxiety is doubt, fear, terror, despair, and hope all tied up into a big knot. That knot lives within you, hiding for those months of scan free intervals, but returning stronger and more influential each time. My way of coping with it is to continue living my life as fully as possible, giving cancer the middle finger as I go about my day.
April Doyle manages social media and marketing for www.theunderbelly.org, an online space for women and men to read and contribute honest, raw personal accounts of life with breast cancer. She writes about her own experiences at The C Life.