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Coping While You Wait For Medical Test Results

By HERWriter
 
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“It is often not as bad as they imagine, and this helps them create a plan in case they do get negative results.”

She also suggests gathering support from family and friends, as well as finding out information about a potential diagnosis to feel empowered.

“Illness reminds us that we are vulnerable and truly dependent upon our bodies,” Garcia-Arcement said. “This can make us feel scared and powerless. Doing things that remind us that we are in concern or have some control can help reduce distress.”

Elissa Ashwood, the creator of the website www.33dresses.com/ is a breast cancer survivor who is currently going through treatment. She also used to be a consultant for McKinsey.

“A cancer diagnosis takes weeks and months to fully unfold, so it's really easy to spend all that time waiting,” Ashwood said in an email.

Instead of focusing on the waiting, she has three main tips for people who are waiting on a final diagnosis.

1) “Think like a top management consultant,” Ashwood said. “Consultants come up with their best answer today based on all the facts, and they run with THAT answer until the next update. So on Day 1, they use the Day 1 answer. And they don't worry that they don't yet know the week 1 answer or the last day answer yet. This way they are empowered by having a working answer at all times.”

“With cancer, I focused on the answer I had,” she added. “It's very empowering to realize that you have an answer, that you aren't really waiting for anything. Once you get an update, you'll have a new answer, but that doesn't mean you don't have an answer now.”

2) “I also looked at the cancer treatment in chapters, and stayed focused on what I could do for each chapter,” Ashwood said. “I set up my client work to be completed during the periods that I knew I would not be having surgery or treatment.”

3) “Live your life no matter what the diagnosis is,” Ashwood said. “Cancer is not my life, I have life over cancer. For example, I'm currently having 33 radiation treatments, and I decided I would wear 33 dresses to these treatments to give me something to look forward to.

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I appreciate the practical advice, like serving others to take my mind off myself. I also really like what a previous commenter said: “I am ready and willing to do whatever I must to be well.” That is a good mantra for this period of waiting.

Here are a few other ideas I’ve found helpful:
1. Listen to music I liked when I was a child/teen.
2. Meet up with a friend who doesn’t know about my medical issues so I can enjoy a totally unrelated conversation.
3. Constantly make new plans, small and large, for later today, tomorrow, next week, etc.
4. Work on a project that requires a lot of mental focus.
5. Listen to guided meditation recordings.

September 22, 2018 - 6:28pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Good advice, still easier said than done. But I am trying. Mostly I try to remind myself that being upset all the time can actually make you ill, and, no matter what the answer is, I am ready and willing to do whatever I must to be well. And it really does make me ill just to think about it. The moment my doctor called me and told me I needed to come in to discuss my labs I felt literally sick to my stomach and have had bouts of it every since that moment. I know that's not good for me so I have to focus on other things as often as I can. I also try to think about the other, less traumatic things my problem could turn out to be. Still, the fears seep in, especially when I am alone or at night. I am a mother of school age children and I am not ready to check out! Like I said, all good advice here, but easier said than done ;) still, I'll give it a try.

April 4, 2016 - 11:51am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Thank you for the article. Very useful to read advice from those who have been there.

August 21, 2013 - 3:25am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Thanks, this is so helpful! I'm currently waiting for some results and I'm trying not to do what I did the last time I was waiting which was to get totally depressed and down and stressed. That is why I am researching ways to handle things differently this time around!

June 5, 2013 - 2:10pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.