Navigating Uncertainty, Part 1: My Experience in “The Waiting Room”

Navigating Uncertainty, Part 1: My Experience in “The Waiting Room”

When I turned 38, I conscientiously embarked on the routine of getting annual  mammograms. These yearly checkups became a familiar part of my life, as did marking  these days with a donation to Sharsheret. Typically, a note or a call from the doctor  would follow, assuring me that my results were normal, and I could return next year  without worry. 

However, this year unfolded differently. After undergoing a mammogram and  ultrasound, I received an unexpected text message notifying me of my results. As I  anxiously opened the report, the words “suspicious finding” leaped out at me. The  unsettling news came directly to me, bypassing the reassurance of a preliminary  conversation with my doctor. Amidst grappling with this revelation, I discovered that I  had a “mass” in my breast, demanding further investigation through a biopsy. My  radiologist, a friend who had eased my concerns in the past, was unavailable this time. I  chose not to burden him with my worries, though the anxiety lingered. For days,  thoughts of the impending biopsy dominated my mind. 

Seeking solace, I confided in a friend, discovering that she and other mutual friends had  faced similar experiences. I questioned why such crucial aspects of our health were  rarely discussed openly. Reaching out to friends and sharing my concerns with my  internist and gynecologist helped alleviate some anxiety. They reassured me that  biopsies were routine procedures for investigating findings and advised against  panicking. However, the lack of information about the procedure itself and the weight of  the “what ifs” gripped me with fear. 

As the days passed, my thoughts, both day and night, oscillated between fears of a  potential cancer diagnosis, concerns about my children’s medical history, and the  possible silver lining of cosmetic enhancements. But I knew that if the mass turned out  to be malignant, I would call Sharsheret. They would be able to help me. 

The day of the biopsy finally arrived. (More on that in my next post!) Then came more  anxiety as I awaited the results. When the doctor finally called with the reassuring  words, “you don’t have cancer,” the relief was overwhelming. 

The diagnosis revealed a pseudocancer known as PASH, a solid mass mimicking  cancer but lacking its aggressive nature. Grateful for a fortunate outcome, I recognized  the fragility of life and the importance of health. My outcome could have easily been  different, and I am keenly aware that many women, including many of the women with  whom I shared a waiting room on that fateful morning of my biopsy, are not as  fortunate as I was. 

Following my good news, I spoke with a friend who works at Sharsheret, and I explained  my “suspicious finding.” The first thing she said was, “Lisa, why didn’t you call us right 

away? We could have helped you through this ‘waiting period.’” To my surprise, I learned  that Sharsheret provides counseling and support during the uncertain period leading up  to biopsy results. I regretted not knowing about this invaluable resource sooner! 

As I continue my journey, I want to emphasize the importance of sharing our  experiences openly. Let’s break the silence surrounding health issues, fostering a  community where we can support and comfort one another.  

Wishing everyone the strength to face whatever results may come from your next  screening and know that Sharsheret will always help you get to the other side. Reach  out to Sharsheret’s support team at [email protected] or call 866-474-2774. 

Stay tuned for part 2 of my series on the biopsy experience!