How to cope emotionally with the unknown

I was diagnosed with breast cancer about 7 weeks ago. I haven’t started any treatment yet and the wait is so hard. I have been sent for extra scans and biopsies, (which weren’t done right,  so I’ve been booked in to have it all done again), before it’s decided if I see the surgeon or oncologist first. As the weeks go by, I’m finding it harder and harder to deal emotionally with the diagnosis. It’s the fear of the unknown. If I knew what I was dealing with, then I could focus on the surgery or chemo or whatever it is I’m having,a  cope better. It’s going to be at least 2.5 months from diagnosis to starting any kind of treatment and it’s emotionally very fatiguing. All my  family live abroad. I’m in my early 30s and  don’t have any friends who have had cancer, so I don’t have anyone to talk to who truly understands the fear of facing a life threatening illness. Any tips for coping emotionally while waiting for results and treatment?

Hi there,

My advice would be to come on here any time you need to touch base with people who understand - day or night there is usually someone buzzing around - and if you look through the ‘forum’ headings and titles, sometimes there will be a cross-reference that you will relate to - because nothing with any of us is straightforward?  We are women, and we all know how to support others - it’s what we do best.  In the weekday hours, you could phone the helpline and talk to people who will understand exactly what you are going through . . . .if you need to hear a voice. 

Every single one of us here agree that it is always that waiting in those early days that can drive us barmy, as it is added to the shock of the diagnosis and we don’t know if we are coming or going. . . . . .and there will be days when you feel it is all going too fast for you sometimes, and your head is trying to play catch up.

I am sorry you had to come and join us - but the more you find yourself looking in here for support,  you will find you gradually become part of the network of ladies who are all holding each other up.  Hugs aplenty to you xx

Hi Drummer, your anxiety is understandable.  This seems to be taking longer than the standard NICE protocol but it is important that the correct decision is made rather than the fastest decision.   Cancer doesn’t alter as fast as our minds have us believe but I know that doesn’t change what you are experiencing right now.  I still take CBD oil for anxiety after finishing cancer treatment and I find it helps me to feel calmer.  Here’s my blog which has lots of suggestions for coping:

If you need any help navigating the NHS system then you can speak to your hospitals PALS or McMillan info office for support.  

Hi Drummer. I know it sounds cliched, but I feel your pain … as will most women who have been through this process. I am a few weeks ahead of you in terms of having a treatment plan etc, but the best ‘advice’ I can give you right now is to try to find some way of living with uncertainty. Easier said than done, but I am learning that (at least for me), just when you think you’ve got your head around everything, the goalposts can get moved - sometimes for the good & other times, not. 


Some people deal better with the unknown than others, but many of us like to have an element of control in our lives. Any life changing diagnosis can rob you of that … if we let it. It’s going to be a roller coaster, but do you know what would help you feel more in control? What support you need to get through the inevitable troughs? For me, I needed to arm myself with as much information as possible. The amount of information offered after initial diagnosis can be overwhelming & it didn’t mean by much to me without a clear diagnosis, but once that became clearer, I found facts somehow reassuring. They gave me something concrete to focus on; though as I said previously, the goalposts can move rapidly & I was totally unprepared for that.


Lets face it, you are very young to be facing this. Are there any support groups/ forums for younger women out there? In my sixties, I get that some of the issues will be very different. A lot will also depend on your personal circumstances, where you are in your life, what your dreams & aspirations are (& how they could be affected), support networks you have and if this directly impact on anyone else in your life? So many questions buzzing around in our heads. All very overwhelming. One thing is for sure, you can’t do this on your own & it’s okay to be scared, to struggle, to be angry. You have taken a big step in reaching out to this forum - keep doing it. Yes, we must become more resilient & find ways of dealing with our new reality, but we won’t find all of the necessary resources within ourselves … we need to borrow strength from others, when we can’t find it within.


You’ve probably heard of Mindfulness? Popular at the moment, so it should be easy to find a 6-8 week introductory course somewhere near you? At its best, it is a very simple tool for dealing with uncertainty, anxiety & other complex emotions. It may not be your thing, so keep searching for the thing that is a good ‘fit’ for you. 


Would be be happy to share more if it would help, though I do recognise we are at very different life stages. Be kind to yourself xxx

Hello Drummer, 

So sorry to hear that you are going through such a difficult time and that your family are not within easy reach.  In additional to the helpful responses you have already received,  you may find it helpful to access the “someone like me” service through this forum/breast cancer care site.  Hopefully I have added the link correctly  below along with a Cancer UK link about waiting times etc .   You may also find the Breast cancer care booklet,  Breast Cancer In Younger Women (BCC66) useful which you can download or order.  I hope theses are of some use.  


I agree - the waiting and not knowing where you stand can be torturous.   Sometimes further testing may be required to ascertain full diagnosis,  for example,  tests for the protein HER2 may initially be borderline and thus further definitive testng is required,  testing to see if chemo may be apt and whether it would be best to administer before or after surgery,  testing for genetic link if applicable.


Perhaps it may be helpful, and you may feel more back in control if  you talk through your current results and what this means for you   with breast clinic staff and clarify the specific reasons for further tests and scans.  Hopefully you have the details of a breast care nurse or there are patient support services available who can assist you in advocation with medical staff if you feel you are not getting anywhere. 

Wishing you the very best, 

Chick ? x

drummer, right there with you! Although I’m a bit older, 57. I’ve was diagnosed near about you, lots of tests with dribbling-in results. No treatment yet and, yeah, it’s more than stressful wondering how things are/are not progressing while awaiting something to stop this garbage or slow it down…whatever. Not much of a “woman support” for me as all guy family but 1 young grand daughter and family in another state. I’m in Colorado. I’m here for you if you need someone at the same stage and frustration.

Hi drummer

I have just turned 40 and I am stuggling too with the waiting at the moment. I have been for lots more tests than it seems most people have including MRI and pet CT scan. Just been back for further biopsy. Results on Thursday .

Possibly surgery on the 31st may but that will be nearly 2 months from diagnosis. 

I understand that the more info they have the more effective treatment can be but the longer it goes on the more stressed and panicked I get and I can’t help but imagine that the cancer is going to spread whilst I wait .

I have a young family and to be honest putting on a brave face is exhausting. 

Just want to get started!

Try to stay positive and Just know you are not alone xx

Hi Drummer,

I’ve had a similar wait whilst all the tests are done. It’s to make sure you have the best treatment targeted for you .I found keeping busy and having projects to work on  helped to take my mind of it. It’s good to talk but I did find that emotionally draining. Walking was also good. 

I saw my oncologist 3 days ago and I start my treatment in a weeks time. It’s a strange feeling but you do get a sense of relief when you know your treatment is about to start…

Good luck and I hope things move on soon