Don't Let Fear Derail Follow-Up

Written by Jennifer Warden

For anyone who is a cancer survivor or has had any kind of medical crisis, once the crisis has passed, it’s so easy to not want to go “back there.”

The idea of going back and smelling that hospital smell, confronting unpleasant memories, or dealing with the accompanying anxiety is just not at all appealing. After all, we are fine now, right?

As a bone marrow transplant survivor, I have avoided mammograms for years because I was so afraid that one little spot on that film would send me back to “Chemoland”, a place I never want to return.

I tried to convince myself that mammograms were dangerous for me because I had already reached my lifetime limit of radiation. Hmmm, as if letting a breast malignancy go would be safe?

I had also not followed up with an MRI for some brain lesions that were discovered a few years ago not wanting to be thrust into the medical system once again.

Encouraged by a friend, I set up appointments to get checked out from stem to stern. I was anxious as hell, especially waiting for all the results to roll in.

With each result that trickled in, I could breathe a bit more easily. I did receive a call back for more images on my mammogram, which left me sleepless, but turned out to be nothing.

It’s been a week now since I received all of my good news, but here’s the thing. I was carrying around a lot of unconscious worry (and some conscious) that was eroding my health in the form of insomnia and anxiety. I feel so much lighter and had not realized how much all of this avoidance was affecting me.

It is a gargantuan act of self- care to follow up, as scary as it may be. I spend so much time preaching about taking care of oneself and had not inserted this crucial missing piece.

We have all hear the phrase, feel the fear, and do it anyway” and this aptly applies to taking charge of your healthcare, so get out your calendar and make those appointments. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.

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