Saturday, January 7, 2017

Waiting for Biopsy Results is the Pits

This blog appeared on 10/14/16 on Prostate Cancer News Today:
How to Wait For Biopsy Results

After your biopsy, it can take anywhere from one to three weeks to receive your results. For many men (I’m in this group), waiting for your biopsy will be a highly stressful time. For me, each passing day of waiting was more miserable and stressful than the next. I don’t wait well. In the express lane in the grocery store, I’ll count how many items are in the carts of people in front of me. To the everlasting embarrassment of my wife and children, using a loud voice I might say: “Doesn’t the express lane have a 15 item limit?” There’s no doubt in my mind, if I had to drive to face a firing squad, I’d be in the left lane passing everyone I could. How I waited for my biopsy results taught me a few valuable lessons I’ll share with you.
Online, I found this definition of the word wait: “To remain inactive until something expected happens.”
I divide the waiting period into two phases. Phase one is the time you spend with no information about your biopsy results. Phase two is the day you receive your results. Here are some of the things I did in phase one.
I knew absolutely nothing about prostate cancer, so I went to our public library. I checked out a dozen books. I wasn’t reading to obtain facts about prostate cancer. I focused my attention on the worst information I could find. I ignored and dismissed the fact that “Nearly 100 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer while the cancer is in early stages are still alive five years after diagnosis.” I locked into the fact that “prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of male cancer-related death in the U.S.” I was selectively filtering the information I was reading in order to prove to myself that a diagnosis of prostate cancer is a death sentence.
The more frightened I became, the more I relied on mood-altering behaviors to help me cope. Examples of mood-altering behaviors are using drugs, alcohol, TV, computer games — anything that removes you from reality to avoid experiencing reality is a mood-altering behavior.
I used food. As I ate more, I gained weight. As I spent too many hours in front of the TV, I distanced myself from my friends, family, and my wife. I set myself up to experience isolation at a time when I needed lots of support.
If I had a do-over, I would:
  • Read a lot less
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Take my wife on a weekend or week-long romantic vacation
  • Spend a lot less time in front of the TV
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat less junk food
  • Find people further along in the journey to talk with both in person and online
  • Listen to my wife’s fears and concerns
  • Rely more on my faith and spend more time in prayer
Which (if any) of these suggestions appeal to you and/or your partner in your time of waiting for your biopsy results?