Move Over 'Scanxiety,' There’s a New Cancer-Related Anxiety in Town!

A cancer survivor explains how mental stress related to cancer and the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his nutritional habits.

What if I told you of a new nutritional disorder spreading across the land, courtesy of the delta variant of the coronavirus? You won’t find it in any medical textbook, but it is a real thing and has taken a whopping bite (pun intended) out of my bank account.

I call it “snack-xiety.” Snack-xiety is a compulsion to assault any carb in sight. It’s a stressful time during the fourth wave of this persistent virus. It’s so stressful reading about ICU beds filling up to the brim with COVID-19 patients or about our schoolchildren needing to quarantine after only a single day in class. Not to mention the possibility that cancer screening and surgeries may be delayed.

Blame the coronavirus

Yes, the delta variant is deadly, serious business, but so is my seven-pound weight gain from too many bags of popcorn, chips, pizza and pretzels. I always put the feed bag on before cancer scans and blood tests, but the pandemic has really expanded my waistline.

And, would you believe it, all of this munching and crunching has put a severe strain on our household budget. Sure, my wife and I racked up incredible savings in the early days of the pandemic last year, when gas prices sunk to historic lows and we swore off going to restaurants, movie theaters and hair stylists.

Survival mode kicked in and I subsisted on lean meat and other good protein sources. I needed all the strength I could muster to fend off the viral monster. But as the coronavirus has become so persistent, my resolve to stay fit has waned, and carbs now dominate my pantry.

Hurts the pocketbook

With the rise in consumer prices these last few months, these tasty morsels are not at all cheap.

And, boy, think about the severe mental stress that I’m suffering! Just about every night, when I’m trying valiantly to get to sleep, I sneak into the kitchen for some delicious munchies to calm my wrangled nerves.

It doesn’t help that I’m watching cable news on the latest COVID-19 hotspot or disputes over mask mandates versus the freedom not to wear one. And I haven’t even begun to rant about the vaccine versus anti-vaccine showdown.

Then, adding insult to injury, I wake up overnight only to find popcorn kernels digging into my back. Lots of sleepless nights lately.

More hugs, fewer carbs

I’m like a lot of patients with cancer: In a second lockdown after a brief respite, the CDC told us we could hang out, maskless, with our fully vaccinated family members. Now, forced to communicate with them by Skype or phone, I turn to snacks to get me through the withdrawal process. However, there’s no substitute for an honest-to-God hug.

Somehow, I did force myself to get my regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and found that my prostate cancer is stable for now. (Yay!) But that was back in July when the delta variant was just beginning to rear its ugly head. Now, I am petrified to take a step outside even to get the mail.

What about good nutrition?

When it comes to good nutrition, that’s gone by the wayside for now. Sorry, I have to go. My left-over pizza is done heating up in the microwave, and I’ll top that off with a few scrumptious glazed donuts.

I’ll suffer some serious bloating later on, but right now I have to feed my new addiction. Snack-xiety is a double-edged sword!

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