Coping with the Wait Once You’re Diagnosed with Gynecologic (GYN) Cancer

You’ve been diagnosed with gynecologic cancer. And that’s scary. Then instead of rushing into the operating room for a hysterectomy to remove it, your surgeonsays, “Wait, let’s do some more testing.”

The hesitation on the part of your medical team can be frustrating and scary. You don’t want to wait. Your instincts are crying out, “Get it out!” You want it to all be over – and the sooner the better. Your anxietylevel is through the roof.

Waiting can be worth it.

Take a deep breath. Your surgeon is looking at the big picture, not just right this second. She wants what is best for you right now and for the long run. After all, that’s the point of treatment – to give you a long term solution.

Yes, you have gynecologic cancer. But most cancers are not going to dangerously grow overnight. Depending on your specific diagnosis, you may have some time so that you and your medical team can make a thorough, well-thought out plan which takes into consideration what’s best for you overall. A rush decision could exclude some important key points which could make a long term difference.

For example, rushing in for a hysterectomy without having further testing could mean you need further surgery to remove additional tissue. Or your doctor could preemptively take additional tissue only to find out from pathology it wasn’t necessary. Getting as much information as possible beforehand can give your surgical team the data they need to remove what is necessary, and only what is necessary, the first time.

Use the time to get a second opinion.

No matter how much you love your doctor, when it comes to cancer a second opinion can be especially valuable. A second opinion could confirm that your diagnosis is correct and the treatment plan is the best one for you, easing your mental strain. On the other hand, another oncologist may know of newer treatment options which may minimize side effects or increase prognosis. Another physician may know of additional clinical trials, alternatives, or options which you could consider.

You may also find you like one doctor better than another. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your medical team – from doctor to office staff – as you go through your cancer journey. The peace of mind can make a difference in how well you handle the stress of it all.

While you wait, get educated.

Learning more about your diagnosis could help you choose the best treatment plan for you. It will also help you feel more in control of your situation. Doing some research can also help you choose a facility that best suits your needs, even if you need to travel outside your local area. This is especially true if you are in a more rural area or if you have a more rare cancer.

Waiting through the additional testing can also give you an opportunity to find a support group so you can connect with others with your diagnosis. They can answer questions about diagnosis and treatment from their personal experiences. They can help guide you along your journey and literally hold your hand as you wade through all the uncertainty. They can share tips about how to manage before, during, and after treatment.

There’s no doubt, cancer is serious and you do need to be diligent about seeking treatment. But don’t panic if your doctor does not schedule surgery for tomorrow. Use the time to prepare and educate yourself about your diagnosis and know that your medical team is looking for clues to help them give you the best possible care.

This content was written by staff of by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.  Reprinted with permission: Coping with the Wait Once You’re Diagnosed with Gynecologic (GYN) Cancer

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