Anxiety leading up to doctors’ visits and having scans (sometimes referred to as “scanxiety”) can be overwhelming for many people. Your stomach might drop. Your palms might feel sweaty. Your mind might start racing. But this pre-visit fear is common — it even has a name: latrophobia.
To find out what to do to help reduce some of the stress around upcoming visits, we turned to the experts: people who’ve been through it. Learn how to ease anxiety before a checkup with advice from the MSK Facebook community.
The following comments were lightly edited for length and clarity.
I dance the anxiety out with my horrible dance moves to my favorite music.
— Brianne M.
Strive for Balance
I keep busy the week leading up to the scans and then during the days after. I also meditate, pray, and do Reiki daily for peace and balance.
— Mary C.
My husband always joins me, and we talk about light things that make me laugh and keep my spirits up. That was particularly helpful during treatment. Ten years later, we still do the same. Prayers and positive thoughts go a long way.
— Patricia J.
Make a Day of It
I make it a date with my daughter. It’s always fun going to the city.
— Marcella C.
Coming from New Jersey, I’d make a day of it and focus on the little things: the train ride, lunch at a different restaurant, getting chocolate at the M&M’s store, going to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. If you keep your focus on other positive things, your anxiety will fade.
— Michelle S.
I’m 15 years out of a stage IV melanoma diagnosis. Scans don’t really get easier. Sometimes I’m fine, sometimes I cry, and other times I flat-out lose it. What I’ve come to learn is that any emotion we feel surrounding this possible life-altering event is perfectly OK. I walk into MSK, say hi to the security guard at 53rd Street — Nick, one of my favorite people — and talk to as many patients as I can while we wait. I hope that someone sees me 15 years out and finds some sort of courage for themselves in hearing my story. I guess you can say that I handle scans by leaning on those who unconditionally support me, and then I turn around and attempt to do the same for others.
— Sharon B.
Focus on What’s Next
I stopped having pre-visit anxiety when I started to realize that news and results are only temporary — just until the next visit or scan or blood work. So now I never get overly excited for good news and never get down with the bad news. As most of us know, good news or bad news can change quickly. View news or results as temporary. It puts the mind at ease a bit.
— Ed L.
I love staying productive and getting through the steps toward a goal. I treated every visit like I was taking the next step toward being cancer free and checking that off my list. I was living out of town for the most part, so I brought different family members and used the long chemo days to catch up on life. I also would track down the drink cart for the mini apple juice cans that I love!
— Taylor S.