Tips from a Cancer Survivor to Help Ease Your Fear
By Valerie Reiss
It's that time of year again for me. Testing time. Ye Annual CAT Scanne. Like the Olde Time Ice Cream Shoppe. But with doctors and isotope-laced Crystal Lite instead of ice cream. Um, yeah. See? Testing time makes me crazy.
I know I'm lucky to only do this once a year--many cancer survivors get retested more often (I went from four to two to one a year). But it's a drag no matter. That feeling of being well and "moving on" is upended as a myth I've relied on to feel normal. I start combing over every sniffle, ache, cough, negative thought. I remember that I've got this thing, this pet camel, let's say, to take care of. She needs little food and water most of the time, but is very much not a mirage and I'm always amazed how I can almost forget she exists. So the shock of re-meeting the camel--you again!--makes me a little more edgy, neurotic, and overwhelmed than usual.
I have one survivor friend who basically ropes off the three weeks before her annual scans. She knows she's going to be a mess, so she gathers support, battens downs the hatches, and is inordinately kind to herself. We could all be so served. To help myself, and you if you happen to be a survivor or love one, I've created this list. Mainly for those who have braved cancer, but it might apply to anyone who gets those nerve-wracking words: "We'd like to do some tests."