Access to Health

What is “Scanxiety,” and How You Can Deal with It?

Harry Lorusso and family posing for a picture

Dealing with the fear of MRIs can be difficult. But with the right steps, any stress or anxiety can be treated — or even eliminated altogether.


Everybody knows the feeling. You’re sitting in a doctor’s office, nervously waiting for your appointment. From regular checkups to serious medical treatments, stomach-churning anxiety is not only normal but incredibly common. 


One person who knows that terrifying all too well? Harry Lorusso. In 2019, he was diagnosed with a grade-4, uncurable brain tumor at just 34 years old. And while many patients experience stress during an MRI exam, men, in particular, seem to have higher anxiety before and after MRI screenings.   


So as we recognize Men’s Health Month this year, we’re sharing how Harry was determined to face his illness with strength and positivity and set out on a years-long personal journey to overcome his fear and anxiety of MRI testing. 


As President and Co-Founder of the Outlier Fund, Lorusso raises awareness and funds for those affected by glioblastoma.
As President and Co-Founder of the Outlier Fund, Lorusso raises awareness and funds for those affected by glioblastoma. CREDIT: Instagram/@theoutlierfund

As part of the clinical trial he committed to, he’ll undergo MRI scans every eight weeks for the rest of his life. Everything from the time leading up to the scan to being inside the machine itself to waiting for results can be daunting. But, as Lorusso explains, all of that can become much easier with a few lifestyle adjustments. 


Over time, he’s developed ways to center his mind, body, and soul in the days leading up to a scan. One way Lorusso put those goals into action: Fitness. Working with a boxing instructor, for example, has helped him regain coordination skills post-surgery and form a daily physical routine.


Lorusso training for the Pittsburg Marathon
After training for the Pittsburgh Marathon, Lorusso and his team raised over $50,000 for the community. CREDIT: Instagram/@theoutlierfund

 It’s just as important to take care of your mind, which involves checking in on mental health at every step of the way. Leaning on a strong support system — whether that be friends or family — can help ease the burden and help you stay optimistic. “[My wife and I] circle the scan dates on the calendar as a day to celebrate. And now we actually look forward to scan days and being together and enjoying our time together on those days,” he shares. 


And thankfully, it seems Lorusso’s methods for approaching his scanxiety have helped. Through his partnership with Bayer, he has been able to share the patient perspective when it comes to MRIs.

“Collaborating with them on the importance of scan routines, limiting anxiety, and certain things that have worked for me has been a really healthy relationship,” he explains.


In even more great news, Lorusso has had no evidence of disease for nearly four years now. Still extra appreciative of his health, he continues to bring the lessons he’s learned from his cancer battle into everything he does. 


As we recognize Men’s Health Month, sharing Harry’s journey about overcoming his fear of MRIs is just one of the many ways Bayer is helping to bring greater awareness and education to combat the underlying fears and anxieties that can get in the way of men getting the care they need. 


3 min read