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Awaiting the diagnosis

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
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Awaiting the diagnosis

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Many women who have had a breast biopsy say that bringing their suspicions of breast cancer to the doctor was one of the most difficult experiences of their lives. When you find a lump or breast change, you may find it very hard to go to your doctor. You may be afraid just waiting for your appointment. Once you go to your doctor, you will probably have to wait for test results. You also may have to wait for an appointment with another doctor for a second opinion or referral. The waiting may be hard because you don't know what you may have to cope with or how to plan for the future. These feelings are common for women facing the possibility of breast cancer.

You may not have all of these problems, and you may have your own way of coping with them. Throughout this stressful time, seek support from your friends and loved ones who can help you.


Not knowing what the future holds can cause a great deal of emotional stress. This is especially true for a woman about to have a breast biopsy. You may feel better if you:

  • Talk about your fears and concerns. It is very important for you to be open about your feelings with those people who are close to you. Openness can set the tone for continued sharing. This is a good time to talk frankly with family and friends. Don't hide your hurt or pain-share it. Don't hesitate to seek out professionals such as psychologists, social workers, or members of the clergy to help you deal with your anxiety or anger.
  • Think through how you might deal with a diagnosis of cancer and what plans you'd make. Learn about your treatment options. Think about your needs-for example, who will care for your children or who can fill in for you at work. Find the best medical facility and kind of care that are available to you. Talk to others who have gone through similar things and learn from their experiences.

Fear of cancer

Cancer is frightening, but it can often be treated successfully. More than 5 million Americans who have been treated for cancer are considered cured. If you need to have treatment, you may have to change your daily activities temporarily, but most cancer patients return to their usual lifestyle. Many women who have been treated for breast cancer say that they found new sources of strength within themselves to cope with the emotional demands they faced.

Fear of loss

If you think you may have breast cancer, of course you are concerned about possibly losing a breast. You may be worried about sex and how your partner may react. If you have a mastectomy, you (and your partner) may be depressed or have other feelings similar to those associated with other losses. Coping with loss is different for each woman. However, recognizing and talking about your feelings-such as anger, frustration, sadness, and fear-can help. These feelings lessen with time. You may even find that your relationships with loved ones are stronger than before.

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