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AWAITING A BREAST BIOPSY RESULT? THINGS TO DO TO TAKE THE EDGE OFF
SCREENINGS LEADING UP TO A BREAST BIOPSY CAN CONTINUE FOR MONTHS
SO YOU ARE AWAITING BREAST BIOPSY RESULTS?
My guess is that you are scared, nervous, and the thought that you might have breast cancer is never completely out of your mind. It doesn't make it easier that the screenings leading up to a breast biopsy can take months. Then you have to wait for the results.
It had been seven years since I had seen a doctor. I know. At 59 years old, that in itself is reason to be afraid, and it doesn't stop there. I have a family history of breast cancer, and my precious mother actually died of ovarian cancer. By now, you are wondering how I could allow myself to go seven years without a mammogram. I guess I have to admit that the answer was that I did not have health insurance, and was too proud to go to the public health clinic. I have a Masters Degree, enjoyed professional positions for years, and just plain didn't think I should have to accept public assistance. That all changed when my older sister, three years my senior, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I have to admit that I was frightened, even before the mammogram, but when I was contacted two weeks later, and told that additional pictures were needed (diagnostics), well, that did not make me feel any better. Everyone assured me that this was no cause to worry, that it only meant that they needed a closer look, so I convinced myself that it was all just routine. As luck would have it, I was informed of the need for diagnostics three days before Christmas, and told that they would be scheduled after the holiday season ended.
When the diagnostics were finally scheduled, I set my alarm for 4am to make sure I would not be late, but again, luck was not on my side. My old car broke down on the way to my appointment, and it had to be rescheduled. I managed to put the idea of breast cancer out of my mind until my next appointment, but felt the tension begin to build again at Spalding Regional Women's Center, when I arrived to have the additional pictures taken. While the technician told me that I could call the health clinic the next day to get the results, I chose not to do so, hoping that I would hear nothing, and later receive a report that the diagnostics had shown that nothing was wrong. Unfortunately, I received a certified letter from Spalding Regional Hospital on the Saturday before Martin Luther King weekend, and had to wait until Tuesday to find out what it was about. At this point I left a message at the health clinic, but it was closed until Tuesday, so I had a very long weekend, and had to admit it was my" own fault.
The certified letter informed me that still more pictures needed to be taken, and the health clinic contacted me to set an appointment for a sonagram. Of course, I hoped that the sonogram would show that I had a fluid filled cyst, but again, luck was not on my side. I was informed that an appointment was being set for me to see a surgeon for a consultation. Again, I put it out of my mind until the appointment arrived, and again began to stress out on the day of the appointment.
The surgeon assured me that 90% of "these" are benign, and assured me that they were actually "thinking this thing," my nodual was benign, but that a biopsy was needed to be certain, due to my family history, and some uneven borders on the growth. This made me feel better for a time, but as the time drew near, I thought of my sister's diagnosis, and at times felt a great deal of stress. It was never completely off of my mind. At times I was almost certain I had breast cancer; other times I was almost certain I did not have it. Still, the thought was never far away.
My Georgia sister went with me on the morning of the biopsy. I was quite nervous, but the core needle biopsy itself was actually pretty painless. The difficult part was knowing that I was being tested for breast cancer, and might actually have it. I can not say I behaved maturely, as having gone through the motions of doing everything I should have done, I then chose not to contact the health department to find out the results of the biopsy for almost three weeks. Strangely, it was some kind of strange emotional feeling towards my right breast, that almost felt like love, that caused me to make the call on February 26th. I felt that I was not taking proper care of my breast, almost as if it were one of my pets, or a family member.
I also felt quite a bit of pressure from my family to find out the results of my biopsy, though they were not overtly putting any pressure on me. I knew I was behaving irresponsibly, and practicing avoidance, and that my behavior was causing them almost as much stress as it was causing me. While I was again hoping to receive word that nothing was wrong by mail, it occurred to me after close to three weeks, that my speciman could have been lost, or misplaced, and that if I had cancer, it was not being properly treated. Finally, I took a deep breath and made the call. Within an hour I knew that I did not have breast cancer, and the burden I had been carrying for three months was suddenly lifted. I have shared my procrastination with you, and my fear and weakness, but there are also some things I did right, that I think might help you through this journey that can take up to three months, as it did in my case. Here are my suggestions for things to do during this waiting period.
1. Empower yourself by learning as much as you can about the disease, and what you can do to fight it. I strongly suggest reading ANTI CANCER: A NEW WAY OF LIFE, by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD. In his international bestseller, he encourages you with recent research that clearly demonstrates how much you can do to prevent cancer, as well as stop its spread, through lifestyle choices.
2. Begin the anti-cancer lifestyle changes right away. Do not wait until you know you have cancer, or know that you do not. Drink green tea, and imagine that it is stopping the growth of cancer cells through not allowing them to secure blood vessels through which to travel. Eat a mixture of 29 combined fruits and vegetables now, and imagine that the anti-oxidant effects of these foods are already fighting cancer by either preventing it, or slowing its growth. If you don't already exercise regularly, begin doing so now, while you wait on your results. Since I already exercised consistently, all I had to do was keep doing it. Exercise even more than usual, if you are already an exercise enthusiast. It will help relieve stress, and validate that you may have already been preventing cancer through physical exercise, or may be preventing its spread even now.
3. Last but not least, share your fears and hopes with loved ones, but do not allow fear to dominate you. Go on with your life, and put the thought out of your mind as much as you can. If you have cancer, stress and fear are the worst possible mental responses for your immune system, and if you don't have it, you are simply wasting precious time. I actually carried Schreiber's book around with me, and used it as a source of strength. When I felt fear coming on, I had a cup of green tea, or fixed an anti-cancer salad, full of cancer fighting antioxidants. The best medicine for your fear is to feel that you are doing something yourself to fight the disease.
During my time of waiting, I was fully prepared to launch my anti cancer actions whether I actually had the disease or not, and these actions empowered me greatly. In fact, I am so much healthier now, and have learned so much about cancer prevention, that I am choosing to continue eating the foods, and increasing my level of physical exercise in order to prevent myself from ever having breast cancer at all. In fact, I have ordered two anti-cancer cookbooks from amazon, and can hardly wait for them to arrive. According to recent research, we have every reason to believe that we make choices years in advance that can either cause cancer or prevent it. Let this be your wake up call, whether or not you have the disease, and start boosting your immune system today to fight cancer, and maybe prevent it from ever happening to you at all.
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