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Every month More Voices invites readers to contribute short nonfiction prose pieces of 40 to 400 words on a healthcare theme.



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My first three breast biopsies resulted from self-examinations that revealed a lump in my breast. The fourth—and, so far, final biopsy—came after my surgeon felt a mass in my breast during a routine check-up.

Each biopsy brought its own trauma. For biosies one and two, I had to find sitters to care for my two, young children. For biopsies three and four, I had to arrange lesson plans for my substitute teacher. I had to ensure that a family member would be with me during the out-patient procedures, and I had to gear myself up for the IV and anesthetic, both of which scared me more than a Halloween haunted house. After the biopsies, I had to be extra careful about doing exercises or wetting the affected area.

But the profound repercussion of four biopsies was the not knowing: waiting a week for the test results to come back. 

During those seven, long days, my imagination led me to dark places. I stared in the mirror, picturing myself without hair. I looked at my bare chest, visualizing it without a breast. Most of all, I embraced my children and wondered what their lives would be like without me there to guide them. I hugged my dad, knowing that if I suffered, he would suffer even more. Waiting left me feeling helpless; I knew my fate no longer was in my control.

Fortunately, all four biopsies were benign. The waiting game, however, resurfaces every year when I get my mammogram. Again, I wait one week from the time of the X-ray until I receive the call from the hospital about the results.

I know I am not a patient person. I also understand that I am a person who likes to take charge of her schedule and life. Waiting, therefore, does not sit well with me. The unknown has too many unwelcome possibilities that haunt my daylight hours and turn my dreams into nightmares.  

I would rather deal with the known than be a passive pawn in the waiting game. 

Ronna Edelstein
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania