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Scanxiety RCC

When you wake up this morning, a calendar reminder pops up on your phone. You have an immediate sinking feeling. It’s two weeks until your scan. This is the first scan since you started adjuvant treatment. You feel good and haven’t had too many side effects. But in a weird way, that makes you wonder if the drug is even working. Some moments you feel confident and convinced that this scan will be clear. Other moments, the doubt creeps in and you start imagining what will happen if the scans show recurrent cancer. You try to do some breathing exercises that the counselor gave you, but they aren’t working very well. Two weeks feels like an eternity.

One week. You want it to go faster – and go slower at the same time. You dread getting the results of your husband’s next scan – but the uncertainty associated with waiting is excruciating. When he started this treatment, his first scans showed a big reduction in disease. You were so elated to have found something that worked! But the next scan just showed stable disease. Even though the doctor told you that stable is good – it doesn’t feel good enough. It feels like the treatment has stopped working. To prepare yourself, you start researching other treatments and writing down questions to ask the doctor. You want to be positive. But you can’t shake the fear that the next scan will show growth. 

You are lying on the scanning bed. Waiting for the CT to start. You’re so exhausted because you didn’t sleep at all last night. But there is no ability to rest or relax because your heart is racing. You have a metallic taste in your mouth from the contrast running through your veins. As you move through the scanner, you close your eyes and silently attempt to will away the cancer with your brain. It seems like a silly thing to do – but it can’t hurt to try. As you get up, you scrutinize the facial expressions of the CT tech, looking for any kind of signal, good or bad about what the scan shows. You wonder how long it will take before the results are posted in your portal. Just another unknown – in a sea of unknowns. 

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