The Ovarian Cancer Chronicles Part 2: Scanxiety
Editor's note: This is part 2 in a series of introspective blogs written by Antra Boyd, iRNPA detailing her personal journey as an Independent Patient Advocate and recurrent ovarian cancer patient.
It’s called “Scanxiety” when you get really anxious while you wait for the results of your scans. Now, I know that any “scanxiety” I feel is really just the feeling of fear. I don’t really enjoy it, but it is harmless in and of itself. Regardless, in the middle of the night, this sucks. And besides that, I really hate the word “scanxiety” in the first place. It’s totally made up because we need to have a reason for fear or for why we feel the way we do. Lame.
I woke up terrified last night. I am so tired, in fact, that my eyes are burning this morning-- that kind of hang-over sleep.
I was so afraid of EVERYTHING. Afraid of the results, afraid of surgery, afraid of long term consequences, afraid that I won’t be able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and deal with this, afraid, afraid, afraid. Terrified.
In the middle of the night.
It occurred to me to stay in the fear. You know, not scrub myself down in it like some lunatic, but to explore it, in a way, to see more of it instead of trying desperately to see less of it. So often it seems I seek relief from my feelings. Since all of this started, I have been using my phone pretty religiously to stray from how I feel, relief. It’s innocent. I get it, but staying in a feeling, or wallowing in it for that matter had a funny effect. Fear’s grip loosened its hold on my little mind and body for a hot minute. I try to imagine feeling that afraid all the time and sometimes I can catch a glimpse of how little it means when I see the truth of who I really am, but honestly, most of the time I say, “hard pass” on feeling afraid 24/7.
It also occurred to me in the middle of that storm to throw my hands up and say “fuck it! Surrender.
I go in and out of surrender, of knowing who I truly am, and then I completely forget. It’s crazy how easily I can slip into the conditioned fear of cancer. The message that you must act now or else. The message that you must follow the advice of the experts, the message that cancer must be fought.
What if cancer is my greatest teacher? What if I am being led to follow my own inner voice to do what is best for me even if it goes against the grain? What if I am being led to living a life I never even knew existed because for so long I allowed myself to be locked in the chains of fear? Even after my first round with this, I can see how desperately I wanted to make sure “I never got cancer again.”. While I denied chemotherapy, I still went out of my way to make my body inhospitable to cancer and, from where I sit now, it was still fear. So subtle, I didn’t even notice. Still dependent on someone or something else to heal me.
It didn't work.
I woke up two hours later having dreamt I’d been murdered by some stranger. So much for ever getting back to sleep. Still waiting to have the MRI.
For additional insight, please see Antra's related blogs: