The Waiting Game
Last updated: August 2022
Day 1: I perform a self check and I notice something suspicious. I call my doctor and the earliest I can be seen is in two weeks.
Day 15: I see my dermatologist who decides to do a biopsy. He tells me that I should have the results by the end of next week. It’s only Monday.
Day 26: I call to get my results the next Friday but for some reason they are not in, yet. I decide to call again on Monday.
Day 29: The “lesion” looks to be melanoma. Another excision is required to clear the margins. The doctor is free in ten days.
Day 39: More surgery and more waiting to see if the margins are indeed clear and that he got it all.
Waiting around for skin cancer test results is hard
I could go on, but I think you get the point. One of the hardest parts about the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer is the waiting: Waiting for appointments, results, treatments and more results can be so unnerving and frustrating. I don’t like it a bit and I am not good at it. I don’t like waiting in line, or a stop light, or for my Amazon shipment. Most of all, I hate waiting for good health.
The anxiety can be debilitating
My mind plays tricks on me. When I have to wait, I tend to go to the worst case scenario in my head. I call it “preparing” but really it feels more debilitating than anything. I take “no news” as bad news, and I see silence as a negative. I wonder why no one has called me, yet. Don’t they know that I had melanoma before? I picture little, dastardly cancer cells multiplying each moment I have to wait.
I can't help but to worry
I worry. I worry over things out of my control and it is not helpful. Waiting becomes worrisome, which produces anxiety and stress and that only makes things worse. It takes a physical and mental toll. It hurts my relationships. I need a way to manage this waiting game. Skin cancer survivors live in this game.
Here is how I try to cope with the constant waiting:
I vent to others who understand. I have found others who get it. They know the waiting game and how to play it.
I try to live each day to the fullest and discipline my mind to think about good things. This is a constant challenge.
I try to eat well, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. I cannot emphasize enough how important rest is.
I have hobbies that get me out of the house and into nature. I love photography.
I serve others and try to focus my attention on helping people in the community. Compared to many, I have it really good.
I journal when I need to get something off my chest. Sometimes just writing something down feels therapeutic.
The worrying is usually worse than the results
These are a few of the things that I try to do when I have to wait. In my case, the worrying is often much worse than the ultimate results. I understand that many in the skin cancer community deal with difficult realities on a regular basis.
How often do you worry about skin cancer coming back?
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