Tag Archives: biopsy

Waiting for the biopsy results

26 Feb Some things are too scary for words. And can be found at Home Depot. (photo by Alexandra HH)
Some things are too scary for words. And can be found at Home Depot. (photo by Alexandra HH)

Some things are too scary for words. And can be found at Home Depot. (photo by Alexandra HH)

It is 12:56. And I am waiting to find out the results of my latest biopsy. This is such a familiar feeling. Unfortunately. What is it like out to find out if your future will be scrambled? At this point, I have had so many biopsies that haven’t been actual cancer (though a number have yielded results dangerous enough to require surgery and I am permanently in a high risk zone) that I have developed certain coping skills that get me through the waiting periods and the painful tests without too much emotional scarring. I have cultivated a certain pleasant blankness that includes focusing on the moment I’m living in and doing whatever little task I have at hand, and cutting myself off from making long range plans. It is only sometimes, at unexpected moments, when the darkness completely eclipses the light and I start to sob and shake so hard that I don’t even know what I’m afraid of—is it the helplessness? is it the pain? Is it death? Or is it being tortured to death? I sob and my poor husband stands by, thinking he’s not being helpful when really, he is. By not running away, by witnessing my sadness, he most definitely is. And then, I stop, and we watch Downton Abbey, and try to figure out if Lady Mary is enigmatic or just kind of a bitch.


No biopsy will ever be as bad as the first one—until I get the one, which I no doubt will, which will let me know that the game is up and cancer is here. The first biopsy was the worst because my children were young. I could not get over the terror that I was about to betray them by dying. I felt myself not to be an individual so much as a figurehead. I was Mother. And I felt that I could not let them be un-Mothered. They needed to trust that I would be, at very least, alive. I remember so clearly feeling as if I were behind glass, watching the rest of the world go through its busy motions. Sounds felt muffled. Even my beloved husband could not reach me. Other people were alive and I was somewhere between alive and dead, in a very special zone that normal people didn’t belong to and should never see.


It is 2:00 now. The results are supposed to be here, I’m supposed to get a call. I’ve been calm. I’ve been busy. I made phone calls and emails. But now, the sky feels heavy, as if it’s crushing down on me with extra gravity. Ring, phone. Just tell me. Just tell me what my future is going to be. I’ve waited long enough. Just tell me now.

Writing Prompt: How have you learned to cope with potentially scary news?


Twenty things to do when you’re waiting for another goddamn biopsy.

23 Jan


My favorite sister made me laugh by sending me entire box of breast-cancer-fighting chocolate covered strawberries before another goddamned biopsy.


  1. When husband asks you whether the dishwasher is clean or dirty, start crying.
  2. Color in pictures in your journal with markers even though the colors bleed through to other side. Hum.
  3. Eat corn chips right out of the cupboard.
  4. get mad at your kids for no reason, then say, “You’ll be sorry when I’m in my BOX” until they roll their eyes.
  5. Call the doctor and cry and beg for some extra pain meds. Because you’re scared.
  6. Google every horrible article you can find that shows pictures of the procedure.
  7. Eat more corn chips straight out of the cupboard.
  8. Do your work. Forget it. Do five minutes. Stop. Try again. Stop.
  9. Pick up the book for your next reading group. Realize that it’s “The End of Your Life Bookclub.” Do not really want to read a book about a mother and son who are reading books while she’s dying of cancer and getting chemo at Sloan-Kettering. Put it down.
  10. Watch part of movie about Brad Pitt playing Liberace’s boyfriend. Stop when I begin to realize that a. I am never going to fulfill my dream of being Liberace’s boyfriend; and b. Being Liberace’s boyfriend isn’t All That anyway. I want to scream at the screen: “Run, Liberace’s boyfriend! You know about those famous people! They’ll eat you up like a chicken leg, suck out the marrow, and toss you aside!” I mean, I have watched enough biopics to learn a FEW lessons about life.
  11. Make a to do list. Actually more of a wishlist. Wouldn’t it be nice if I actually did do any of those things.
  12. Sort socks. Have 25 percent success rate.
  13. Write blog posts I may never use.
  14. Look at dishes in kitchen sink. They look perfectly content. Do nothing about them.
  15. Read productivity tips so I can think of even more things I’m not currently doing. Like Vlogging. Why have I forgotten to Vlog? Go into shame spiral.
  16. Try to understand Evernote. Cannot figure out how to get notes into the proper notebooks.
  17. Think about making bed. It’s supposed to be a very good habit.
  18. Think about how it will take “at least a week” to get results. Feel mad.
  19. Look at clock. How many more hours till it starts? How long till its over?
  20. Write in my journal 10 things I feel grateful about. And feel happy that they’re all about people I love.

Writing Prompt: How do you cope when you’re waiting for an unpleasant or scary medical procedure? Any tips for other people?