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One of my friends underwent a cancer biopsy this week. She is waiting the results of a pathology lab for diagnosis. Will it be cancer with a treatment plan of some sort, or will her results be benign?

Waiting on results from an important medical test or pathology report is enough to make anyone’s anxiety soar. It seems the waiting is sometimes worse than the diagnosis. The unknown. The period of limbo. Holding your breath… afraid to exhale.

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When the stakes are high, waiting on a diagnosis can escalate stress and take a toll on you. A study from the National Institute of Health found that awaiting diagnosis of cancer after a biopsy was associated with higher anxiety than waiting for invasive and potentially risky treatment. This stress can weaken one’s immune system and slow healing. The longer the wait time, the more anxiety tends to increase. Thanks to online medical portals and new technology in diagnosis, sometimes the wait time is shortened. Part of the struggle in the waiting is the feeling of vulnerability and helplessness. Once you receive a diagnosis, you can at least work with your doctor to implement a treatment plan. But what can you do while you’re waiting?

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You can do some pre-diagnostic coping to help yourself reduce anxiety.

  • Do whatever has helped you reduce stress in the past.
  • Eat healthy during times of stress.
  • Distract yourself with a good book, a hobby, work, or a good movie.
  • Try meditation and journaling.
  • Keep the situation in perspective, don’t awful-ize it!
  • Mindful breathing can be a life-saver.
  • Find support in family, friends, support groups, mental health counselor and faith-based organizations.

As I write this blog article, my friend is still awaiting her results. She seems to be handling it well and when I asked her how, she responded… “I woke up the morning of my biopsy with this phrase in my head: ‘God’s got this, I’m just along for the ride.’” Her faith is a source of support for her, along with family, friends and co-workers. These same sources of support will continue to be there for her even after diagnosis, whatever it may be.

If you are awaiting medical results (or any other big potentially stressful news) surround yourself with support and don’t hesitate to ask for help. And keep breathing… deeply.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.

Sources:

Barlage, L. Have you tried “Journaling” your Stressors?? Live Healthy Live Well. 2015, May 15.

Brinkman, P. Eating Better During Stressful Times. Live Healthy Live Well. 2015, May 7.

Carter, S. Don’t Awful-ize It! Live Smart Ohio. 2015, Sep 11.

Carter, S. Breathing… Live Smart Ohio. 2015, July 31.

Flory N & Lang E. Distress in the radiology waiting room. Radiology. 2011 Jul;260(1):166-73. doi: 10.1148/radiol.11102211. Epub 2011 Apr 7.

Lang E, Berbaum K & Lutgendorf S. Large-core breast biopsy: abnormal salivary cortisol profiles associated with uncertainty of diagnosis. Radiology. 2009 Mar;250(3):631-7. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2503081087.

 

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It’s estimated that 83% of people who have Celiac disease are undiagnosed… or misdiagnosed with other conditions. Could you be one of those undiagnosed? With May being Celiac Disease Awareness month, now is a good time to learn more about the disease that could affect you or someone you love.

Celiac disease is a serious, genetic autoimmune disorder triggered by the consumption of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When a person with Celiac eats gluten, the body begins to attack a part of the small intestine called villi. Damaged villi cannot properly absorb nutrients into the bloodstream. Undiagnosed (and untreated), Celiac Disease can lead to malnourishment and many other problems including some cancers, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, infertility and the onset of other autoimmune diseases.

Infographic_Celiac Disease at a GlanceWho Gets Celiac Disease?

One out of every 133 Americans has Celiac disease, about 1% of the U.S. population. Celiac disease is a genetic disorder, meaning that it runs in families. Sometimes stressful events such as pregnancy, surgery, infection, or severe emotional distress can trigger the onset of the disease in those who are genetically predisposed to it.

How Is Celiac Disease Diagnosed? 

Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose, given the wide variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms. To determine if a patient has Celiac disease, a physician can screen with a simple antibody blood test, sometimes combined with a genetic test. If a Celiac diagnosis is still suspected, the doctor will likely perform a biopsy of the small intestine for confirmation.

Common Celiac Disease Symptoms

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis
  • Infertility
  • Numbness in Legs
  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint Pain
  • Osteopenia
  • Bloating
  • Dental Enamel Defects
  • Pale Sores in Mouth
  • Osteoporosis
  • Delayed Growth
  • Fatigue Migraines
  • Weight Loss
  • Depression
  • Gas
  • Nausea

Treatment of Celiac Disease: A Gluten-Free Diet

Currently, the only treatment for Celiac disease is strict adherence to a lifelong gluten-free diet. There are no medications or surgeries that can cure this autoimmune disease. Eating even tiny amounts of gluten can trigger intestinal damage. Eliminating gluten from the diet can be overwhelming at first, but with some practice and extra effort, people with Celiac disease can eat delicious food that tastes just as good as their gluten-containing counterparts. The good news is that with a gluten free diet, someone with Celiac Disease can heal, the villi can re-grow and much of the damage to the body can be reversed.

Interested in learning more? Check out the Celiac Disease Foundation and Beyond Celiac.

Sources:

The Celiac Disease Foundation https://celiac.org/

Beyond Celiac https://www.beyondceliac.org/

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by: Melissa Rupp, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County.

 

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