Things to do while you’re waiting to find out if you have cancer.

On Wednesday I had an MRI-guided core needle biopsy of the small breast lesion that was found on my screening MRI a couple weeks ago. They told me that I would have my results in 3-5 business days, so most likely I’ll hear early next week…although they did say I could hear as early as this afternoon.

Surprisingly, I’m actually less anxious waiting for this result than I was waiting for my initial MRI result. I attribute this to my amazing breast surgeon who really put me at ease. I know there is only about a 10-30% chance that the lesion is cancerous (or to phrase it in glass-half-full way a 70-90% chance it’s benign), and my doctor reassured me that even in the worst case scenario, it’s a tiny lesion and probably very treatable. So overall I’m feeling pretty damn optimistic.

However, waiting for any sort of big news is hard. And waiting to find out if you have cancer? A little extra hard.

So I’m trying my utmost to not sit here wringing my hands and waiting for the phone. In other words I’m trying to entertain myself with some positive distractions. Here are a handful:

7 Things To Do While You’re Waiting to Find Out If You Have Cancer:


Treat yourself.

I’ve decided to take myself out for a mani-pedi after work today for the first time in 2 months. Because nothing says “Look you guys, I’m totally calm and not freaking out one bit” like pretty colors on your fingers and toes.

Immerse yourself a book. 

Perhaps “Staring at the Sun – Overcoming the Terror of Death” is not the best choice. (This is actually what I just happened to be reading when I got my BRCA+ news). Opt for something long and engrossing. I settled on 1Q84 by my favorite living author Haruki Murakami.  It’s close to 1,000 pages and is a total departure from my BRCA reality. Oh but wait! I unexpectedly stumbled upon this line in the text: “All I can do is live this life I have. I can’t trade it in for a new one. However strange and misshapen it might be, this is it for the gene carrier that is me.” Ok, so I guess there really is no escaping the BRCA reality.

Throw yourself into work.

Unless it’s summer and you work at a university in which case in an 8 hour day you have about 2 hours of real work to do and 6 hours to sit around and contemplate your own mortality.

Write down all of things that need fixing around the house.

Roof leak, broken closet door, stained upholstery, wobbly deck stairs, bugs entering via crack under basement door… No! I take that back. This might be even more stressful. 

Take long walks.

Especially if you recently had a hollow needle stuck in your boob and are restricted from doing any more intense exercise for a few days.

Preoccupy yourself with other non-cancer related medical concerns.

My allergies have been extra bad lately, maybe I’m due for a trip to the allergist. And I have this persistent phlegm-y feeling in my lung.  Wait…could that be cancer? Shit. Now I’m worrying about cancer again.

Write a pointless list.

Done and done.

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