Managing anxiety before check-ups

Many cancer survivors say they feel worried before routine check-ups. Anxiety, poor appetite, sleeping problems, mood swings and increased aches or pains are common in the lead-up to an appointment.

You may feel anxious before routine check-ups because:

  • you might fear that you’ll be told the cancer has come back
  • going back to hospital brings back bad memories
  • you feel vulnerable and fearful just when you were feeling more in control
  • friends or family make comments that upset you.

You may find check-ups get easier once you have had a few and things are going okay. In the meantime, finding ways to cope with your anxiety before check-ups may help. See the next page for some coping strategies to help ease your anxiety.

  — Ben

Coping with check-ups

  • Take a close friend or relative with you to your check-ups.
  • Share your fears with people close to you so they can provide support.
  • Plan to do something special after your follow-up appointment.
  • Try to see your check-ups as a positive way you can care for yourself.
  • Learn mindfulness and meditation skills, or practise deep breathing to help manage the signs of stress and anxiety.
  • Book the first appointment of the day or plan another activity beforehand so you are busy and don’t have time to dwell on the appointment.
  • Stay informed about any new treatments for the type of cancer you had. This may help you feel more optimistic.
  • Ask if it is possible to go to the doctor’s consulting rooms if you are not comfortable going to the hospital or treatment.
  • Try to book tests close to your next doctor’s appointment.

This information was last reviewed in April 2018
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