- Cancer Information
- Living well
- Living well after cancer
- Follow-up care
- Managing anxiety before check-ups
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.
It is a major psychological hurdle to be positive after treatment. It is a relief for it to be over, but during check‑ups, you always wonder if the treatment worked. Also, if you get sick, it doesn’t always mean it is cancer or related to the treatment. It might just be the flu.
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.
Dr Haryana Dhillon, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, NSW; Polly Baldwin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Jessica Barbon, Dietitian, Southern Adelaide Health Network, SA; Dr Anna Burger, Liaison Psychiatrist and Senior Staff Specialist, Psycho-oncology Clinic, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Elizabeth Dillon, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Prof Paul Glare, Chair in Pain Medicineand Director, Pain Management Research Institute, University of Sydney, NSW; Nico le Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Services, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Amanda Piper, Manager, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Kyle Smith, Exercise Medicine Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, WA; Aaron Tan, Consumer; Dr Kate Webber, Medical Oncologist and Research Director, National Centre for Cancer Survivorship, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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