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Test Stress

Posted Mar 07 2009 2:20pm

When you are in the world of cancer you become used to tests and going to the doctor. Whether you are diagnosed, or high risk it becomes a way of life. You have scans…all that wonderful contrast stuff…you wait (and wait and wait). Many times it leads to more tests and more waiting which equals more stress. The other week there was a report published in the NY Times  about the stress of waiting on biopsy results. It happened to be the same week I was waiting. The study states “Waiting days for the results of a breast biopsy appears to affect stress hormone levels just as much as finding out you havecancer.”  I wanted to comment on the NY Times article with a simple duh!

My recent tests happened to be the very first time I had a full blown anxiety attack after results etc…Needless to say I had a very stressful week waiting on answers, and to compound everything other details of life were spinning out of control that same week. Finally I head in to the doctor’s office for answers - answers to calcifications, a funny area that can be felt though not seen in traditional films - basically answers to what may come next. The nurses kept looking at me and the docotr nodded as I walked into the room. Typically they are lively and chatty. It is funny how every little change in behavior can make you worry. They were, as I learned later, having a very tough/busy day. Though I have no malignancy at the time (thank GOD) I have the propensity to hear those words. I have been given options to limit my chances  - essentially I have things to think about right now.

My normal routine resumed as planned.  It was funny how my mom noticed the stress building up in me more than I did myself. It all came rushing over me in the next 48 hours.  As I was making coffee I suddenly felt my heart beating out of control and I had trouble catching my breath. I quit talking and sat down to breathe slowly and deeply. Quickly I was back to normal, yet not without realization that I had an anxiety attack. It was strange to me that it all came after instead of during.  Another statement in the NY Time article “the stress and anxiety of waiting also affects the quality of life of a woman and her family and her ability to function well at work.” Duh!

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