It’s excruciating to wait for the results of a medical procedure that will reveal whether or not you have a potentially life-threatening disease.
It’s 1:22 pm on Monday, November 27th, and I have not yet received a call with the results of the MRI-guided biopsy on my right breast that was done exactly one week ago. I didn’t expect to hear anything last week because it was Thanksgiving, but I thought I’d surely hear from the surgeon’s office this morning.
The procedure to extract samples of suspicious-looking cells from my breast was completely painless, and except for a little tenderness for a couple of days, I felt nothing. The incision was so small, it’s hard to believe one was even made. But, it was no picnic to spend the last seven days praying for the best and imagining the worst.
“Even if it’s cancer, they’ll treat it, since the report said it’s a ‘low suspicion’ case,” my son said at brunch yesterday. Although there only was a 10 percent chance it would turn out to be cancer, that was 10 percent too much for me.
When I hadn’t heard anything by 11 am today, I called the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU, where the biopsy was done, and where the breast surgeon has her office. The woman who answered the phone assured me she would send a message to the nurse practitioner, who would call me back.
No word by 1 pm, so I called the “practice coordinator,” a nice woman who helped set up the biopsy appointment. “I’ll call the surgeon’s nurse practitioner right away,” she told me.
I waited 15 minutes longer, but still no call back from the nurse practitioner, so I called the practice coordinator again, who was surprised I still hadn’t received a call. She said she’d go in person this time to see the nurse practitioner.
Still no call, so I dialed the patient coordinator for the third time, who told me she didn’t understand why the nurse practitioner hadn’t connected with me.
“I actually saw her dial your number when I was just in her office.,” she related
“Do you happen to know the results of the biopsy?” I asked her
“I do, but I don’t know what they mean,” she responded.
Gulp! That didn’t sound promising; as a matter of fact, it sounded downright frightening, so I asked if she’d please go to see the nurse practitioner again, and she said she would. I didn’t press her to tell me the results because she wouldn’t be in a position to answer any questions I’d surely have. If I wasn’t an hour away from the Cancer Center, I would have immediately run right over there myself.
I was in a mild panic at this point, so I decided to again call the surgeon’s office directly. When I explained the situation to the woman who answered the phone, she put me on hold. “They’re with patients and will call you back,” she reported. I’d heard that promise once too often.