When I would go to my outpatient visits or inpatient stays at Johns Hopkins, I fortunately didn't get sick to my stomach because I was able to focus on looking forward to the people there - the nurses and doctors who became my dear friends. However, I definitely experienced anxiety when I went through my treatment as a child. I remember that each time I would get in the car to drive to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (where I was treated during my first bout with cancer), I would get sick to my stomach. The simple act of thinking of going to the hospital, where I knew I would encounter nausea, pain, etc., made me so nervous. I was just too young to understand that is what I was feeling at the time.
So, what can you do if you are having fear or anxiety related to aspects of your cancer treatment? Relaxation strategies like mindfulness and meditation, which I highlighted in my post last week, can be really helpful. I think big part of the reason I didn't get anxious when going to Johns Hopkins was that I exercised mindfulness - I focused on the people I would see and not the things that would have to happen to me. But, sometimes phobias and anxiety can't be managed on your own. That's when it's really important to reach out for professional help. Let your doctor know you feel you are experiencing anxiety or a medical phobia, and ask he or she to refer you to a psychologist for consultation. Psychologists are trained to help you work through your anxieties and phobias so that you can actually overcome them, rather than just avoid them. This gives you the opportunity to go through the rest of your cancer treatment without that fear or worry hanging over you, freeing you from that added discomfort.