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How were you told you have cancer?

How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Jack80 on May 12, 2020 5:43 am

I hope people share their experience and what would be the best way of that

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Essjay on May 13, 2020 7:58 am

Jack80‍ my family doctor told me I had cancer. Her office called me to make an appointment to review my biopsy results. Straight after that call, the surgeons office called to make an appointment with him, because they thought I had received the news from my doctor already. They were very apologetic that I hadn’t but we made an appointment for me to see the surgeon. Because of that mess up I knew I had something that was going to require surgery, but I didn’t know for sure it was cancer. It meant I had a very hard weekend mentally, awaiting my doctors appointment, but thankfully I have great family and friends who provided distractions...

When I saw my family doctor, she gave me the report from the biopsy and told me straight out ‘you’ve had a mammogram, ultrasound and a biopsy, and now we have the results which show you have breast cancer’. I’d come from work (ironically, wed just presented some research to the minister on cancer in our province) and I went straight back to work.
Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor since July 2018

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by AliceM on May 13, 2020 9:11 am

Thanks to this covid-19 thing, I was told by my family doctor over the phone. She was very professional and compassionate and encouraging about it being only at a Stage 2. 

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Marsh on May 13, 2020 9:29 am

My Family Doctor called me shortly after my biopsy and asked me to come in for the results. He gave me a copy of the ultrasound and biopsy report and went over everything it showed. He was very encouraging and kind. I was actually quite calm about as I already had a good idea that it was cancer. When I had my ultrasound I could tell the tech had seen something and when she suggested a biopsy she answered all my questions without actually confirming anything, but I knew then. It's unfortunate that all results take so long to receive. The waiting for results and for treatments to start were the worst part of this whole experience for me and I'm sure for others.

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Cobble223 on May 13, 2020 9:43 am

I had a few scans but my family doc was not concerned because I was young and not very symptomatic. He pretty much promised me that I didn't have cancer but told me to go get the scans on disks in case I needed to go to a specialist.

I went and got one of them and they printed out the report with it, which said that I had a large lesion in my spleen (where I had had a dull pain for months) and that lymphoma "could not be ruled out."

Then I went for a CT scan and within 24h I received a call from my family doctor's office saying that I needed to come in urgently for something very important. So I knew for sure then even though I hadn't yet heard the words in a solid way. The disease was pretty widespread and followed a "pattern of findings that most likely represented lymphoma"... and then I of course had a biopsy that confirmed that. 

I got the official news (preliminary results that it was definitely some sort of lymphoma) over the phone one business day after my biopsy, which still blows me away. So quick.

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Buffythevampire on May 13, 2020 10:19 am

I had a bleeding nipple and was sent to a Specialist/Surgeon by my family Doctor plus was sent for a mammogram/ultrasound. The Specialist sent me for a biopsy but said he didn't want to wait for the results and wanted to remove a lump right away. I had a lumpectomy and went to a follow up appointment with my Surgeon. I thought he was going to check to see how I was healing, he did do that but also shared with me the information on the pathologist report. I was told that I had DCIS and no further treatment would be necessary. I was at the appointment alone as I thought it was just going to be a follow-up. I drove home in tears.

But then he sent me for an MRI because he said he wanted another image rather then cutting me open again. Had the follow-up appointment with the Surgeon about the MRI results and was told that I had another lump that was bigger then the first lump that he had removed. Lumpectomy was 1 cm lump second lump was 2.5 cm. Surgeon told me that anything over 2 cm's meant a mastectomy and he referred me to a Plastic Surgeon. During the follow-up appointment for the mastectomy/expander placement surgery I was told that I had IDC. My mom had been with me for this appointment but (I am not sure why) she wasn't in the room with me when I was told the results she was in the waiting room.

I don't understand why the bigger lump wasn't seen first. Must have been hiding, I guess.

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Carjac87 on May 13, 2020 11:33 am

My gynaecologist phoned me at home & very gently, told me the last biopsy showed cancer. He explained it was low grade & that a total hysterectomy was needed. At the same time, he also gave me a date for the surgery.

I was home alone, & didn't tell anyone until I picked up my husband from work 8 hours later.
~Don't sweat the small stuff~ Jacquie

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by law on May 13, 2020 3:06 pm

After a year long sore throat. I had an ENT examination. The doctor took a look in my mouth and said, "Oh, something is growing on your upper palate and it shouldn't be. It's a little cancer. I'll send you for a CT scan"
That was that....it didn't't freak me out, as I knew it was not good from the start a year ago.... It was a weird sort of soreness and was getting worse.
My friends were freaked out and surprised at me for not making a big deal out of the diagnosis. THEY were freaked out, not I.

After the cancer was confirmed, I knew I would be cured with radiation, because the ENT told me so. I was still not freaked out. I was very cavalier.
Following radiation, during the recovery period, I freaked out from the pain, the inability to eat or swallow, and  the horrid constipation reaction to opiates. My fatigue, coupled with depression was no picnic either.
I have been cancer free for almost 1-1/2 years now ---- and once again I am not freaked out
Perhaps my fears would have escalated had I not been told that radiation could cure me of the tongue cancer.

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Runner Girl on May 13, 2020 3:46 pm

My story goes: my Mom died on January 14, 2018.  I was very busy working and dealing with her estate as I was her executor.  Everything was happening very quickly.  I put off my annual checkup because I was too busy at work and doing executor duties.  When I did this my Mom started whispering in my ear to get my butt to the doctor.  So I finally did at the end of March, 2018.  During my breast exam he found them, 2 lumps on the right side at the bottom of my breast.  Crap!  I was sent home to book a mammogram.  I called the radiology clinic and spoke to the booking lady about what I needed, she said that a mammogram wouldn't be enough and booked me for both a mammogram and an ultrasound.  In the wait for the mammogram/ultrasound my Mom was whispering to me that she had them and they wouldn't go anywhere.  The ultrasound confirmed 3 lumps, lymph nodes did not look involved.  They booked me in for a biopsy immediately.  After the biopsy I went back to my doctors office.  At the first appointment I had told him about my Mom dying.  He started off this appointment by saying "You're having a very bad year, you have cancer".  I cannot un-hear those words.  I was angry and vowed to fight this and win.  All the while I knew that my Mom had things in hand and that she wasn't letting it spread.  16 days later I had a lumpectomy.  3 weeks after the lumpectomy I ran my 11th half marathon!

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Mof4 on May 13, 2020 5:37 pm

I had a physical May 2019 and as always, my Dr. asked when my mammogram would be. Since it was the next week and he was checking me now, he suggested that I would postpone for 6 months so that I would have 2 checks in one year. Good idea. I had been having them since I was 49. My Mom passed from metastatic breast cancer at age 48.

In November 2019, I was travelling and on the last week when I noticed something in my right breast. It was softer than the end of my nose and it didn't hurt. I thought that I might have twisted something because I had been hauling my carry on around for 3 weeks over 2 countries already. I came home for my 6 months-later mammogram and they found a lump, verified by a second mammogram and ultrasound. The radiologist reassured me that I wouldn't be lost and that my name was in the system. It was suspicious so I would be scheduled for a biopsy. Done January 7, 2020. Had to wait for pathology results. Dr's office called a week later wanting me to come in. He went on and on about the results until I blurted, so you are saying that it's cancer?

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Ecr on May 14, 2020 7:55 am

I was feeling really lousy at the beginning of April, 2018; I had been incredibly busy at work and I just wrote it off to that.  When I started to have a bit of abdominal pain, I went to see my family doctor, who ordered the usual bloodwork.  About a week later, I got a call to come back and have a repeat bloodwork done (this was on a Friday), and she asked me if I still had the abdominal pain (I did and it was worse).  On Saturday am, I get a call telling me to go to the ER right away.  Did so and a lot of hours later (around 10 pm) was told I had a pancreatic mass and that it was blocking my common bile duct so I was getting jaundiced.  The next morning, I had a stent placed in my common bile duct by a gastroenterologist who told my spouse that he was sure this wasn’t pancreatic cancer but lymphoma.  He took a biopsy while there and several days later, he told my spouse and I that it indicated lymphoma and he was referring me to a haematologist.  He was very reassuring and encouraging about treatability of a non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  He was great with my spouse; she was really terrified about it.

it was only 2 weeks until I saw the haematologist.  At our first meeting, she ordered another biopsy because the first was too small to do more testing, and a whole ream of tests.  Two weeks after that, we sat in her office and started off our discussion of the outcome of all the testing by hearing that it was DLBCL, stage 3b and that the 5 year survival rate was 50%.  I wasn’t too shocked - I had been doing some reading but my poor spouse was so freaked out by the survival odds that she didn’t hear much after that.  That was probably the worst part of the whole diagnosis process.  The whole process was very fast.  Six weeks after my first medical contact, I was sitting in the Barcalounger having my first R-CHOP.  

I’m now NED for almost two years.  I was off work for almost two years and still struggle with peripheral neuropathy and fatigue but I’m still here.  I returned to work 6 weeks before I was sent to work from home because of COVID.  It helps not having the worry of going to work everyday on public transit (about a 80 minute trip)!


Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Catlover on May 14, 2020 10:39 am

I have Stage 3C cervical or uterine cancer (not sure yet from the biopsies) that has spread to the pelvic lymph nodes. My gynecologist told me over the phone because of COVID 19.  It was from a biopsy he had done a couple of weeks ago.  I was very shocked because a pelvic ultrasound that I had 4 weeks before did not show anything.  At that point, based on the clear ultrasound and the only symptom being post-menopausal spotting that started 2 months before, I thought it had been caught early.  The gynecologist’s secretary got me into have an MRI and CT scan and a consultation with the gynecological oncologist within 2 weeks, which was amazing!  I got the news of the severity of the cancer in her office with my husband teleconferenced in due to COVID 19.  The Healthcare Providers have been very good during this COVID 19.  I am so glad that a biopsy was done after the clear ultrasound.  I was within months of the 3 year pap smear.  The gynecological oncologist expects it started about a year ago. 
58 with Endometrial Cancer

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Jomilks on May 14, 2020 6:16 pm

I had been having mammograms every other year as directed by the Ontario Breast Screening program. Last year would have been my ‘off’ year, but my new family doctor insisted on an annual mammogram.  After the mammogram I was called back for an ultrasound and I knew in my heart that something was not right.  A core needle biopsy was performed next and I was booked for an appointment with a surgical oncologist who told me I had stage 2, grade 3 IDC.  

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by dmarie on May 14, 2020 11:05 pm

Round 1:  Leukaemia
I went for my regular 6 month appointment with my diabetes doctor and mentioned that I had been feeling really tired all the time and had lost some weight (without wanting to). She suggested I stop by the lab for some bloodworm before going home. The next morning I got an early phone call from a woman at Cancer Care saying "We have set up an appointment for you at clinic 5 tomorrow morning at 8:30. Can you come down to Cancer Care this afternoon for some more blood work?"  I was in total shock but managed to say OK I can do that. I had just hung up the phone when my Doctor called to tell me that she thought I might have Leukaemia and that she had managed to get me an appointment with a hematologist at Cancer Care. She had hoped to get ahold of me before they did but the line was busy.

Round 2: Breast Cancer
After finding a lump that did not seem normal (in spite of a clear mammogram a few months before) I went to the doctor who said " Hmm I'm a bit concerned about that. Let's see if we can get you in for an ultrasound today. "  I guess I kind of knew at that point that it was not good. I did not find out officially until three weeks later after I had a biopsy. I had an appointment with the surgeon who gave my the results and discussed surgery options. My husband came with me to that appointment and helped me make the mastectomy decision.

Let's hope there isn't a Round 3 :)


Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Rayline on May 14, 2020 11:05 pm

September 2018 had mammogram called back for ultrasound found small tumour but very deep in my left breast so sent for MRI. I had to call my Dr.  For results. She called and told me that I was going to be scheduled for biopsy. I went into the clinic and saw a different Dr. who said there was something under my arm and on my lungs. I was in a panic. I spoke again to my Dr.and she said not to worry about the lung. Had breast biopsy and the surgeon at that time was worried about huge tumour under my arm and lung spots. Met with an oncologist who told my husband and I she thought I had stage 4 breast cancer. We were devastated my small tumour had turned into stage 4? Two under arm biopsies both came back benign. But still needed lung biopsy. The oncologist called to tell me the results even though we had an appointment the next morning that I had primary lung cancer. So now I had primary breast and primary lung. I was fortunate in that both were stage 1. It was an extremely trying year.

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by QuarantineAndMe on May 15, 2020 6:20 am

Officially by a fill-in doctor since my family doctor was away. He saw a bit clumsy and not sure what to say - - just read the paperwork verbatim. 

But the truth was I knew it was already bad news because after my ultrasound, the tech, the admin and another tech were looking at me as I was leaving the clinic. There was just something in the way they were looking at me that gave me the gut feeling that they knew something I didn't and they were all a bit sad for me. 


Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Minus2 on May 15, 2020 8:30 am

I will use dmarie‍ 's format and also hope there isn't a Round 3.

Round 1:  Went for a regular mammogram in April 2016 which led to ultrasounds, MRI's and and an MRI guided biopsy.  Based on my imaging, my family doc knew I would need surgery, even if the mass was benign, so he made a referral to a breast cancer surgeon before the biopsy was performed.  The biopsy results were available the same day as my appointment with the surgeon, so on May 9th, 2016 my surgeon was the one to officially tell me I had DCIS and IDC, Stage 1, Grade 1, ER+, PR+, HER2- and recommended bilateral mastectomies followed by immediate implant reconstruction (no expanders - one trip to the OR and done).  Surgery was May 31st.  Like QuarantineAndMe‍ , I already knew in my heart before my appointment; when I was sitting up from the MRI guided biopsy, I was upset because I was frightened and one of the technicians tried to reassure me by sharing that at least it wasn't in the chest wall and that was a good thing. So, I knew.

Round 2:  At the cancer centre for a follow up appointment in December 2019.  All good with the breast cancer but the oncologist saw a spot on my arm and asked how long it had been there and had it always looked like that.  She said it was probably nothing but recommended I have it looked at.  My dermatologist performed the biopsy on Dec. 23rd and my family doc (new one, my original Dr. left his practice in 2018)  provided the results on January 7th, 2020 - Nodular Melanoma, Stage 1b.  Re-excision was performed Feb. 5th.

Delivery of the DCIS & IDC diagnoses was so much better than the Melanoma because I had the experts there so I could ask questions.  With the Melanoma, my Dr. was really only able to hand me a copy of the pathology but could not answer questions about the cancer's characteristics etc.  I did a lot of research on my own.  


Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by ng_minus1 on May 15, 2020 8:56 am

I read my first biopsy result on-line during lunch at work. I think a staff member there posted the results without notifying the doctor first. Because for the second/third biopsies, which were done at a later time, the results were not posted until after I met with the doctor. He then confirmed that two out of three were cancer and recommended a full mastectomy. The doctor and the nurses were great. 
At work I tried to calm myself and continue working - I wasn't successful. I ended up taking the rest of the day off. Much better to be told in person and have somebody with you for support.

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Jeff M on May 16, 2020 6:21 am

I found out after my first colonoscopy, I was finished and the nurse asked me to sit and wait outside the Dr’s office. The Dr took me in and told me they found a tumour, and it’s cancer....followed by a “ Sorry”. 
My wife hadn’t shown up yet to pick me up, so when she got there I was still pretty much in shock.
Fast forward just over a year, successful surgery, only follow up screenings and to date still cancer free...


Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by THawk on May 16, 2020 6:44 am

I believe every cancer diagnosis is a long story.  To sum mine up, I was told by one doctor that my thyroid tumor was benign, and another told me that it was 80% most likely malignant.  Apparently thyroid tumor FNAs are very inconclusive.   Regardless, need to go for the surgery as I am in acute pain from the tumor invading my laryngeal nerve.  I am in the huge line up of the Ontario back log of surgeries.  Worst timing ever to need medical help.

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Peterpatch on May 16, 2020 8:04 am

Now that is very sad! My husband was told over 20 years ago with a message left on an answering machine. His Dr couldn’t find his test results at his appointment. I did a lot of tests that day. I think you were fine. When we arrived at our cottage on the weekend there was a message on the machine. Ron it was you that has  cancer. This isn’t a joke call me Monday. I found out by a recall to redo a routine mammogram, followed by an ultrasound and a request to do a needle biopsy. I knew when I was introduced to the Breast Assessment Liason person so I would not fall through the cracks it was serious.

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Survived99 on May 16, 2020 10:21 am

This is interesting. I would not like to be told by phone or answering machine! Tell me to my face, please.

I'll use the Round approach too.:

Round 1: Felt a lump one month after my first mammogram but dismissed it as a cyst. Went about my business for 2 months until I felt another tiny lump in my armpit. Uh oh. Referral, ultrasound, fine needle biopsy and 3 days later, in the surgeon's office I was told "we found cancer cells in the fluid we took out of the lump". Then the wheels were in motion. 

Round 2: Felt a lump near my collar-bone in my neck. Hmm...weird...not showing up like return of BC...on to multiple ultrasound guided biopsies turning up weird cells to finally being told at the surgeon's office (coincidently the same surgeon who told me the first time) - 4 months later, on Christmas Eve! - that it was indeed a malignancy. Wheels turned slower that time. 


Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Samiam on May 16, 2020 11:27 am

I see a lot of people had biopsies, and that sets somewhat of an expectation of what's to come, not that it helps to make it easier and I do not envy any of you the time spent waiting for results.

I was a little different. I had bi lateral medial canal fibrosis which results in the ear canal growing in on itself resulting in hearing loss and infections. Had surgery to repair the "ripe" ear with a plan to do the other in a year of two when it was not angry. Surgery went perfectly. Almost a month later I recieved a call directly from my surgeon that my pathology report was in and he needed to see me. Booked the first available appt 5 days later and googled pathology reports in the meantime as I didnt know what he was talking about...I hadn't had any tests. 
At the appt he told me that as part of his regular routine he sends the tissue from surgery to the lab. He wasnt concerned as he hadn't seen anything however it came back showing SCC.   They even had the lab check 2 times and had another pathologist review it. I was a bit blind sided, even after the Drs call. He said he was totally blindsided-they even checked to be sure there wasnt a sample mix up.
I had the 2nd ear surgery in March to restore hearing to the other ear in preperation for the next surgery which will result in hearing loss. Pathology from the last surgery came back clear...yay!!!
I feel badly for the Drs who have to deliver this news...would not want to be in thier shoes.

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by alexisrj on May 16, 2020 7:58 pm

I had had blood in my stool for almost 6 months (off and on initially then most of the time). My doctor booked me for a scope but insisted “you don’t have cancer” and told me I just had something else (probably hemorrhoids as I’d just given birth to my third baby a few months ago) but my uncontrolled anxiety was preventing me from rationalizing that. Started the anxiety medications, saw the surgeon for a consultation, he also said you don’t have cancer, but when i pressed it, he said it is possible but extremely unlikely as you are 35, no risk factors, no family history, “I don’t want you to worry”.

Had my scope booked in March 2020, it was cancelled due to covid but it was getting worse so I called the surgeon’s office asking is there was anything I could do. They called back and said, he’s not worried but you are so we’ll put you on a list since we’re doing very limited procedures. Got an appointment for mid-April. Leading up to the scope I just knew it wasn’t going to be good and kept thinking about how the surgeon was going to feel really bad telling me it was cancer after reassuring me that it wasn’t. 

Day of the scope, had to go in myself, husband and 3 kids dropped me off and planned to be back at the expected time. After the scope, I knew it was bad when the nurse asked if anyone was with me and then if my husband could leave the kids with anyone, then - since he was already waiting in the parking lot - she said for him to bring them in with him.... during covid, when no one was allowed in the hospital.... I also looked over to my chart and saw “biopsy” and “CT” written down... when my husband arrived, the nurse took my two older kids for juice and cookies and the surgeon was there within a second. I said, “is it really bad”. And he said, “it’s not good. I found a small cancer....” not sure what after that. Then I had a CT that afternoon and he told me those results before I left the hospital. He called with the biopsy results a few days later and got me booked in for surgery. 

I don’t know if there’s a good way to be told.... In my case, I wasn’t actually upset because I already “knew” and at least felt like, FINALLY they believe me.... I’m not crazy!!

Re: How were you told you have cancer?

Posted by Elsie13 on May 16, 2020 10:52 pm

Hello Ecr‍ , Mof4‍ , Catlover‍ , it looks like you are new here. Glad you have found cancerconnection.
Do you want to look around some discussions specific to your type of cancer?

https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewcategory/70 for Lymphoma Non Hodgkins

https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewcategory/39  for breast cancer

https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewcategory/62  cervical
https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewcategory/76   uterine
In 2016: diagnosed with stage 2 ovarian cancer. Treatment: hysterectomy, chemo, radiation. Afterwards: No Evidence of Disease!