Strategies to remain calm while waiting for biopsy results

For the majority of cancers, the process of receiving a diagnosis begins with a biopsy.

Waiting for biopsy results can be incredibly nerve-wracking, as the fear of a cancer diagnosis looms heavier every day that you wait for your results.

Depending on the type of biopsy you’ve had, it can take several days for your results to come back. Although you can tell yourself to stay calm and be positive, knowing that the results could lead to a cancer diagnosis or learning that your cancer may have returned can understandably be a very stressful time for you and your loved ones.

There is no ‘normal’ way to feel while waiting for biopsy results and there are many different ways to cope and try to reduce your stress. Some people like to keep distracted by staying busy and being involved in activities that help them to stay calm and keep their mind off the situation until they receive their results. Others find it helpful to research and look for as much information as possible to help them plan for all possible outcomes and scenarios.

For people who already suffer from anxiety, waiting for biopsy results can be particularly distressing. It’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional if you are feeling overwhelmed or are struggling to cope. There are also a number of cancer support agencies who specialise in providing assistance to people with cancer and their loved ones, including support to access information and counselling.

Waiting for biopsy results is something that many of our Facebook community has experienced firsthand.

Here are some of their insights and tips for coping during these stressful few days:

  • Try not to worry pre-emptively about a cancer diagnosis. As difficult as it may be, there’s no point stressing about something that hasn’t happened yet
  • Stay away from Dr Google. Hypotheticals and misinformation can wreak havoc on your mindset. If you decide to do some research, make sure the information is from a reliable source
  • Have a personal mantra. A recommendation from a past cancer patient is the phrase “I am strong and will deal with whatever happens”
  • Spend time with family and people you love and seek help from others when you need to
  • Keep your mind and body busy. Consider participating in some hobbies that you enjoy, such as picking up a good book that you are part way through and can’t put down. Activities like bike riding and bush walking not only occupy your time but make you tired at the end of the day when you’re going to bed
  • Remember that it is better for the doctors to find something now than a year down the track. If they find nothing, it’s a win, and if they find something, this is a win too because your cancer can be treated as soon as possible
  • Stress can be exhausting, so practicing self-care during this time is really important. We recommend light exercise like walking outdoors in your favourite places, eating healthily, resting and pampering yourself so you are the strongest, healthiest version of yourself to deal with your biopsy results

What do you say to someone waiting on biopsy results?

If you are a family member or carer, you may be wondering how you can support someone waiting for their biopsy results. Here are some tips on how you can help:

  • Simply being there for a loved one waiting for biopsy results can help them remain calm. Sometimes an oversupply of advice can create more stress despite your good intentions
  • Don’t try to solve your loved one’s problems or tell them a story about someone else you know who has cancer. Just let them know you care and are there to listen and offer a shoulder to cry on if they need it
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