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Worrying about test results

Posts: 3
Joined: May 2010

Quick background: I am a 62 year old male 18 year synovial sarcoma survivor. The tumor appeared under my left arm and grew to 10cm before they could stop the growth with radiation. Due to the size of the tumor I was given a 10% chance of surviving. The cancer cost me my left arm at the shoulder, but thanks be to God they got it all.

I am in a discussion group, not cancer related, and the topic today was "Worrying". The instructor made the comment that it's ok to worry, but the "normal" person (whatever normal is), does not carry it on much more than a few hours. I disagreed. I said that after my cancer was removed I was somewhat worry free every 5 months and 3 weeks. But that one week between the CT Scan, Bone Scan & blood work I was a basket case the whole week. I was told that this was an abnormal behavior, and that I should have "let it go" after 5 - 6 hours. The argument was that worrying isn't going to change the outcome anyway.

I'm curious to know how you felt while waiting for results. Were you able to put it out of your mind after a few hours? I said that it's human behavior to worry excessively when it's life threatening. Your comments are appreciated. Thanks.

Posts: 74
Joined: Jan 2010

Well I will tell you why - you could die - that is worth worry and concern and anxiety and does not seem abnormal at all to me - but I just got home from my 6 monthly PET scan (lung cancer) and am awaiting results and sharing in all your worry - to think that I could worry for 5-6 hours and then be done with it would be abnormal for me - these folks are not cancer patients - we know what this does to your worry quotient - so I say go ahead and be concerned all you need to that one week twice a year - me too - Connie.

Posts: 3
Joined: May 2010

Thanks for the reply Connie. I'll be praying for a good report. It definately helped me! :=)

AKAngel's picture
Posts: 74
Joined: Mar 2010

Anyone who is not dealing with cancer or any other life-threatening disease or condition, as a patient or a caregiver, doesn't realize that worrying is part of the equation. No, in general, worrying about things isn't good or worrying about things for too long, but when you're literally talking about life and death, yes..do worry until you know. And then you can stop the worry, and plan as needed. Now, if you constantly plan for every possible thing that may occur, driven by your worry, that can be a problem. And is in fact what my mom is doing right now. She worries about every little thing that might happen after she dies...the things she has no real control of at all, how I'll be, how my dad will be, how we will take care of her dog, everything. And that is not doing her a lick of good, but no one can get her to stop, until she takes a valium under her own decision and fades out entirely.
By the way, my dad's an amputee as well, not due to cancer, but he lost his right leg below the knee and his left toes, back in 2006. How are you doing with that? Was that the support group you were going to by any chance?

terato's picture
Posts: 383
Joined: Apr 2002

and still lose sleep and have difficulty concentrating every time I have to wait for my tumor marker tests to come back. I don't believe these fears really ever go away completely.

Love, Courage, and Peace of Mind!


grandmafay's picture
Posts: 1639
Joined: Aug 2009

Ok, so the instructor has never been there. Every cancer patient, caregiver and survivor I have talked to worries a lot between the time of testing and getting results. This is a life threatening disease. It would be abnormal not to worry. Fay

Posts: 112
Joined: Oct 2009

I go this afternoon for the results of my recent MRI that was done last week. I have been worried and a wreck since last week. I worry even before the test, knowing that I am having it done. I think we have to give ourselves a break and know that it is okay to feel whatever we are feeling. Like many people have said, if someone has not been there, they have no idea what it is like to wait for someone to tell you what direction they think your life is headed.

It seems as if I have waited for today to make many decisions. That may not be right, but that's okay. That's where I am.

Wishing us both luck and peace!


abrub's picture
Posts: 1856
Joined: Mar 2010

Of course we worry! There is an unknown invader that's attacked us - we want to know the status of this enemy.

I can be distracted from worrying for a few hours, but until the official reassurances are in, I'll worry.

We're human - anyone who says our response is abnormal just doesn't understand.

Even my shrink thinks my worrying is to be expected - he doesn't think I'm irrational or abnormal to worry while awaiting results, etc.

bluerose's picture
Posts: 1102
Joined: Jul 2009

You know that guy who sang that annoying song 'Don't worry be happy'. Haha now it's in your head for the day too. lol.

I don't agree with the statement that after only a few hours of worry it should be gone, come on - this can be life or death stuff. Maybe he didn't mean it that way. Worry is an off and on thing, certainly if its 24/7 without stop that can be a problem but for most of us the worry is there 24/7 but we put it on the shelf to do other things that are regular chores of the day and other thoughts and feelings take over. Maybe he meant unless the worry affects your life so you can't think about anything else or do anything else but to me worry is a normal part of the cancer journey and comes and goes without time limits.

Cancer for many I think goes like this: shock, fear, worry, worry, wait, wait, worry, frustration, worry, waiting, waiting,fear, treatments, worry, frustration, waiting, worry. Not always in the same order of course but these are the key down feelings I know that recurred with me. Of course there are other emotions like hope, faith, trust blah blah blah but as far as more difficult emotions I think that mostly covered them.

But hey maybe that's just me but I doubt it.

Take care.

AnnaLeigh's picture
Posts: 182
Joined: Jan 2010

Waiting for test results is anxiety, tension, stress and hope all rolled in to one big ball. We want to hear the results and yet we do NOT want to hear the results. We want to be optimistic but we also don't want to get our hopes too high.

The test results for us have alternated between elating and devastating so how could we not wonder and worry while we wait? There have been times when we could distract ourselves for short periods but the conversation always returns to the subject of the tests and the list of questions we will have afterwards.

Worrying about what our government leaders will do next or whether we have the right person in charge of foreign affairs is something we can "let go of" after several hours of discussion and is not a healthy subject to obsess over but when it comes to our mortality we would not be human if we did not worry about the outcome even if it is not something we can change.

Test results not only affect us but have a ripple effect throughout the entire family that requires thought, planning, and preparation. So is it thinking and planning or worrying? Instructors should empathize with the group and lead them towards a type of coping that involves less stress instead of telling them they are wrong or abnormal for feeling a certain way.

Hoping you have wonderful support and loved ones around you for what ever the outcome of your tests may show.


Posts: 1
Joined: May 2010

I've always considered myself strong but this week has proved me wrong. Waiting for test results has filled my days with dread and worry. Without my wife's love and support, I would be an absolute basket case. My emotions are raw. So are my wife's. We cry, embrace, hold hands and give each other comfort while we wait. And worse, we haven't told the children. We decided to wait until we get the results.

I know that constant worry doesn't help. But, honestly, the fear of the unknown has turned my life upside down.

So, I reach out to my wife every chance I get. And discussing this helps relieve some of the pressure.

Cindy Bear
Posts: 570
Joined: Jul 2009

I think it's normal to worry for longer than a few hours. Esp. when you are dealing with life and death stuff like cancer or another terminal or chronic illness. It's pretty scary stuff, whether you're on the front lines or a caregiver. Some people are more prone to worry than others, some people are better able to focus and be mindful of the moment and put worries on back burner. I've never been one of them. It's the fear of the unknown and the loss of control we feel when we or our loved ones are reduced to medical stats, patient ID nos and those horrid hospital gowns. I think you're instructor is full of it.
Unfortunately, life isn't a sitcom. Most problems are not resolved in 30 minutes. You sound perfectly normal to me.

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