Sunday 10 April 2016

The Wait: Realizing My Entire Life Could Change in a Matter of 10 Minutes

There are many important and defining moments over a life time. Moments when something shifts or changes, and we know nothing will ever be the same.

A recent appointment and a ten minute wait had me reflecting on all the other women who have sat like me waiting to hear whether their entire life would change in a matter of 10 minutes.

It's unusual for me to discuss my age, my health or mammograms on social media or my blog. I'm a very private person so tend to "think out loud" in more general terms than personal specifics. When I stray from this policy is when I keep mulling over something and feel like "thinking out loud" about it is somehow more important than my desire for privacy. 

Recently I had a mammogram appointment. It was nothing to be alarmed about since it's standard at my age. Although I would never call it a barrel of laughs, it involves more discomfort than actual pain. The staff were thoughtful, friendly and knowledgeable. The appointment was quick lasting about 15 minutes, and digital imaging means results are quick.  

I was also told since it was my first mammogram it's not unusual to get a call back to help establish a baseline for what is normal for me, and if that was the case I should hear within a few days. So when the call came a few days later stating they would like to make an appointment to take a few more images I thought nothing of it. 

I arrived at my second appointment, although not looking forward to it (remember it's no barrel of laughs) pretty indifferent. I've never had any serious health issues or illnesses. So far so good. When the time came for the mammogram I was told they would only be taking images of one breast and they needed some magnified images, which would be taken to the radiologist while I waited to see if any further images or action was required. 

So knowing it was only one breast specifically and I would wait while the radiologist reviewed the images made me less indifferent. For the first time I began to think about what if something was wrong. I had not mentally prepared for the possibility of such news. We finished with the imaging, and sat to wait. 

In that 10 minutes my entire life could change. How many women like me have sat here alone waiting to hear if their worlds would be turned upside down. I have several friends who have survived breast cancer. They must have been here at one point, nervous but reassuring themselves it was nothing. I started to wonder how they felt in the 10 minute space of time just before everything changed. Were they nervous like I was. Were they playing multiple hypothetical scenarios in their head like I did? 

If they asked for a biopsy would it hurt? I'm a total suck, and don't like pain. Would I be able to handle chemo and treatment? Would treatment work? How would my family deal with this? My youngest is in his last year of high school, preparing for university. My husband was away for work. Would I wait till he got home to tell him? Would I be able to do that? Surely I would need someone to talk to.

All these thoughts and so many more running through my mind. 

I'm one of the lucky ones. My 10 minutes resulted in no life changing news. All appeared to be normal and fine. As I breathe a sigh of relief for myself I can't stop thinking about all those whose 10 minute wait ends differently. How scared and totally unprepared they must have felt, since how can one ever really be prepared for receiving the news that "we found something" after a mammogram. 

I have no solution, or advice or comforting thing to say. This experience has provided me no insight into how one might prepare or cope with a different outcome than the one I had. I can't say I know how you feel, because I don't. But in those 10 minutes as I sat there alone, before results determine if my world would change or stay the same, I felt two things; an overwhelming sense of connection and solidarity with others who have faced those 10 minutes of uncertainty, and incredible sadness for those whose 10 minutes ended in bad rather than good news. 

Yep, just me thinking out loud about how one's life can change in the matter of 10 minutes. 


  1. Hugs girl!! So happy for the good news. If you ever need to chat I'm here for you

    1. Kinda weird when you suddenly makes this realization Jenn. Makes you appreciate what you have and the people around you. And just how strong those fighting and coping really are.