Wednesday 19 July 2017


I had a scan coming up. I couldn't settle. I had acute scanxiety and thus it was a good job that 1. I'm not trying to hold down a job where I need to focus for a time span longer than four seconds and 2. I have a deadline for the first draft of my next novel in six small months. It's only a deadline to myself but it's a deadline I'm determined not to miss, nonetheless. A writing deadline is the best therapy. Writing is the singular thing in life where I totally focus and my mind doesn't wander. I don't half-heartedly plan the weekend whilst abstractedly pushing the mouse around the mouse mat, or fold clothes whilst stirring a sauce, the phone wedged under my chin. I am your archetypal multi-tasker (even though I truly believe that single tasking reaps way more satisfying results once you call time on the day's to-do's) except when I write.

No, when I write, I vacate my study in favour of the location of my characters and it's just me and them with varying degrees of excitement (they're behaving themselves, writing their own story and I'm enjoying it) or despair (they know what they want to do but just can't quite make it stick). My characters' world is not foolproof, but it is the closest I get from scanxiety.

I tell myself it's ridiculous. Having a scan doesn’t actually change anything in itself. There's nothing to say the cancer has grown, or moved, or is causing problems. I'm not in pain, in fact, my biggest ailments are through the side effects of the medicines striving to keep the cancer small, not from anything the cancer itself is doing.

As far as I knew.

And I guess that's the nub of scanxiety. It's amazingly easy to keep distracted, to enjoy life, make the most of not having so much work to do, say yes to coffees and not feel *too* guilty about going on holiday what seems like once a month at the moment. It's amazingly easy to feel that everything's fine, at least in this new world I've entered. Except, of course, when there's a scan in the near distance and you know it might rock your world, just when you were getting used to the new place. However much you rationalise that it's as likely that the cancer has shrunk with the change of treatments than grown, there's always the chance that the pictures, the meetings the experts have, the summaries your oncologist makes, might make it official that you've stepped a little further towards the place you don’t want to go.

And so, I could only hope, keep busy, and keep increasing the wordcount.

And now? The scan has been and gone and so has the follow up appointment with the oncologist. I didn’t post originally because I didn't want to pass on my stress but now that I've had the most fantastic news, I want to shout it from the roof tops: there is no change, not a glimmer, not a speck, no microscopic growth. We've had a tear, a drop of prosecco, a poignant lunch and now I'm back to the scribbling.

We live to enjoy another day. Life is good and I hope it's the same for you.