Subtopic Categories: E: Caregiver - Watch and wait feelings

Caregiver Questionnaire

E: Caregiver - Watch and wait feelings


Emotional - What Ifs

Emotional: Caregiver - Emotions Felt

JPH Guide

Coping With The "What Ifs" and “Watch and Wait” Feelings Associated With Brain Cancer

A brain cancer journey is marked not only by the physical challenges but also by the relentless barrage of “what ifs” and the weight of the watch-and-wait moments. In this article, we’ll delve into the depths of these emotions and explore strategies for navigating them with resilience, hope, and courage.

The “What Ifs”: “What if…” – two simple words that hold within them the power to unleash a torrent of anxiety and uncertainty. What if the treatment doesn’t work? What if the cancer spreads? What if the cancer comes back? Each question is like a dagger to the heart, threatening to overwhelm with its sheer weight. “When my husband was initially diagnosed and given a prognosis of 11-13 months, I would lie awake at night beside him, thinking about how many more nights we would share before I found myself alone in that bed.” – Erin Stewart, Caregiver. For patients and caregivers faced with brain cancer, these “what ifs” often become unwelcome companions, lurking in the corners of the mind, ready to pounce at any moment. But amidst this sea of uncertainty, there is a glimmer of hope – the power of perspective.

Embracing Perspective: Perspective is a powerful tool, capable of transforming even the darkest of moments into beacons of hope. While the “what ifs” may seem insurmountable, they are but possibilities – not certainties.  Instead of dwelling on the worst-case scenarios, try shifting your focus to the present moment. Embrace the joy found in simple pleasures, cherish the love of family and friends, and draw strength from within. Tom Sadowski, a brain tumor survivor said, “ I visit the future but I don’t stay there. No amount of worry changes anything. Be informed and enjoy family and friends. Live life as you want to and don’t let a tumor steal a moment of your time.”

The Watch-and-Wait: In the journey through brain cancer, the watch-and-wait periods can make you feel anxious and at times like you have no control.  Every scan, every appointment becomes a battleground between hope and fear. But within the uncertainty, there is an opportunity for growth. Use this time to cultivate mindfulness, to be fully present in each moment and living in the “now”. 

“Scanxiety”, or the distress and or anxiety occurring before, during, and after imaging/scans is a common watch and wait feeling. Techniques to help lessen the burden of scanxiety include distraction, meditation, and support from those you love. It’s important to understand that scanxiety is a normal response and acknowledging that this is hard, and to treat yourself with compassion. 

Finding Support: You Are Not Alone In the darkest of moments, it’s easy to feel isolated, as though no one else could possibly understand the depth of your struggle. But the truth is, you are not alone. Reach out to support groups, to loved ones, to anyone who will listen. Sharing your journey with others can lighten the burden and provide much-needed solace. Remember, strength is not found in solitude but in the bonds forged through shared experience.  One survivor stated, “I lean on my family and friends every single day. I live in the moment but I fight for the future.” – DJ S., Survivor

In the face of brain cancer, navigating the “what ifs” and watch-and-wait feelings requires courage, resilience, and unwavering hope. It’s a journey marked by uncertainty, but also by moments of connection.  So, embrace each moment with an open heart, find strength in the support of others, and never lose sight of the light that shines within you.

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