In a few weeks, I will travel to Houston for my next cancer follow-up appointments. I’ll be honest and say that I HATE these appointments. I hate having to ask other people to take care of my kids for three days for something that isn’t fun. I hate having to travel down there. I hate the process of getting blood drawn, getting an IV, sitting around the waiting room, and laying in the scanner. I hate waiting until the next day to see my doctor for results. I hate walking the halls of the hospital and re-living the unpleasant memories. I hate those moments when I wait in the exam room for someone to come in and tell me whether or not I have recurrent, metastatic angiosarcoma.
I wish I could say that I waltz through all of this with joy, peace and complete confidence in God’s good plans for me and my family. But when they take my vital signs before I see my doctor for results, I usually end up having to tell the nurse that no, my pulse isn’t going to slow down unless she waits until after I get my scan results. Even just typing these words and thinking about being there makes my pulse quicken! The anxiety related to cancer follow-up scans is so intense that we survivors have our own word for it: scanxiety.
A friend asked me recently how I deal with the anxiety related to these appointments. Since I’ve been doing this for 4 years now, I’ve given it a lot of thought! Her question got me thinking about my coping strategies for anxiety and how they might be helpful to others.
1. Do the Next Thing
There are times when all I can do is just get through it. In the weeks before my scans, I know my focus needs to be on today and not on tomorrow or next week or three weeks from now. The Lord says to leave tomorrow to Him (Matthew 6:34). So one way I cope with anxiety is to push the thoughts of the future aside and focus on what God has asked me to do right now. Put one foot in front of the other and do the next thing.
2. Promises from God’s Word
I love, love, love God’s Word. God will never fail to keep His promises. There are many promises in God’s Word that have become especially precious to me in the midst of anxiety. Here are just a few: Psalm 46:1-2, Psalm 46:10-11, Psalm 73:25-26, Psalm 112:7-8, Psalm 121:1-2, Isaiah 26:3-4, Isaiah 43:1-2, Jeremiah 31:3, Lamentations 3:21-24, Habakkuk 3:17-19, John 16:33, Romans 8:38-39, Romans 15:13.
I also take my fears and concerns to the Lord in prayer. I am so thankful that Christ made a way for us to come before our Father’s throne and ask for help (Hebrews 4:16). My prayers in the midst of anxiety are not fancy or articulate. They usually go something like this: “Please, God, don’t let me have cancer. This is so hard. Please help me.”
4. Asking Others to Pray
Our Heavenly Father doesn’t ask us to carry our burdens alone – He gives us a family, the body of Christ (Galatians 6:2). Often, I will share my struggle with anxiety with others and ask them to pray for me. I’m thankful for friends who are willing to share my burden and pray for me. It brings me great comfort.
5. Remembering God’s Past Faithfulness
Lamentations 3:21-23: But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
When I’m having a difficult time trusting God’s future faithfulness, I call to mind God’s past faithfulness. Here’s a little math equation for you . . .
Past faithfulness + never changing = future faithfulness guaranteed!
God has been faithful to me in the past. I could write all day about the ways He has worked in horrible circumstances for my good and for His glory.
God never changes. Never ever, no matter what. Therefore, I can put my hope in His future faithfulness in all circumstances.
Doing the next thing, reading God’s promises, praying, asking for prayer and remembering the Lord’s trustworthiness don’t make my fears vanish. But these strategies remind me where to run when I am afraid:
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4)Share