The Longest Week: Waiting for Breast Cancer Screening Results

When it finally trickled down into my consciousness that, in fact, breast cancer maybe could happen to me, and perhaps the highly qualified radiographers might not have made a mistake, my life, all of a sudden,became quite tense.  Imagine how surprised I was when my husband and I pulled up at home after that morning in the hospital to meet one of our close friends and neighbour. I had not seen her for a few days. When I asked after her health and she told us she had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, my blood ran cold. It was as if a hand cold from the ice-box had gripped my heart. This was all too real.

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My husband and I decided not to tell anybody else about the investigations that were being carried out for me as we did not yet know whether the tumour was benign or cancerous. There seemed to be no reason to worry anybody when there might be nothing to worry about.

So I hugged my friend and tried to say all the right things. True to form she brushed my concerns aside telling me that it had been a bit of a shock but she would just have to get on with it. Her main concern seemed to be that she would not be able to join her cousin and his wife on a cruise in the Mediterranean they had planned. Her husband joined us. He looked sick. When my husband and I crossed the road to go home he said to me that he felt that way too.

I think waiting for the news was one of the longest weeks of my life. I spent the time hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. It was advice my Uncle had given me many years previously at another stressful time. The advice stood me in good stead then and did again now. My husband and I fretted individually, but we rarely spoke about the elephant in the room. My temper grew short. He withdrew into himself.

Eventually we had to talk. We hugged and cried and spoke about the fact that we may be worrying about nothing. Whatever happened we knew the tumour had been found early during a screening. I had no symptoms that I was aware of. I got tired easily and had a little discharge from my right nipple, but I felt fine. If I had even a basic knowledge of the signs of breast cancer, I would have realized these were classic signs of the disease. We would find out soon enough, the following Wednesday, whether or not there was anything to worry about. In the meantime we tried to be calm but that week seemed to last forever.  tumor_sizes[2]_tcm8-79578
Valerie Penny

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