The agony of waiting for results

I am a 59-year-old woman with no family history of breast cancer, but I understand the importance of getting regularly screened anyway. Breast cancer does not discriminate. Young or old, rich or poor, black or white, thin or fluffy, tall or short or even male or female, you are not exempt from breast cancer just because you haven’t had a family member who was diagnosed.

I’m from the area, so of course when the time came for me to start getting mammograms, Sentara was at the top of my list. I work in Williamsburg, so I went to the Sentara Williamsburg Comprehensive Breast Center. I like that the practice is dedicated to women and I see the same staff year after year.

This year, I had my annual mammogram scheduled for Jan. 28. As expected, my appointment was as awesome as always. But unfortunately, I was called back to get additional scans of my left breast. Apparently, I had some calcifications that had obtained some new friends. I was a wreck. But the lady on the phone was amazing. I was scheduled to come back the very next morning. It was quick and everyone was kind and compassionate. The radiologist reviewed the scan while I was there and recommended a biopsy. The team immediately worked with me and I was scheduled for the procedure the next day. Things were moving quickly and I was so thankful for that. Plus, the team was incredible, explaining everything to me, ensuring my questions were answered, and just being a calming force in what was a very stressful time. It made it all much less scary than I had imagined.

Incredibly, the biopsy results came back the very next day – I even remember the time – 4:30 p.m. I remember the feeling when I heard that everything was good, they had gotten almost all of the area and there was no need to return for a year. I was to go and enjoy myself.

Let’s recap that: Mammogram on Monday; re-scan on Tuesday; biopsy on Wednesday; results on Thursday. Do you think it could be any better than that? No. I am a melanoma survivor. I have had the cancer call. Unfortunately, I am very well versed in the agony of waiting for results. It never gets easier.

I hope Sentara will not change whatever process it has in place for handling issues such as this. And I am so, so thankful to Dr. Dunn, Donna Dettloff and the entire staff for the “as always” wonderful service. I am so thankful for the technology available to detect very early stage breast cancer. And I am so thankful that in this age of paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, this practice still treats the patient, and has found a way to shorten the time our lives hang in the balance.

Robin Campbell Wyatt


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