Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Suzanne's guide to keeping your cool in the waiting room

Yesterday I spent several hours gazing out the window, reading magazines, making small talk, and sipping ginger ale.

No, I wasn't on the porch of a country inn, I was in the waiting room of my cancer center. It was an odd afternoon, because at one point I was called upon to comfort a very frustrated patient who was on the verge of firing her very prominent oncologist after a nerve-rattling wait. I really had my doubts about sticking my nose where it didn't belong, but her friend begged me to share my advice for keeping my cool.  So here we go.

 1. I never schedule anything else the same day as an oncologist appointment. The stress is just not worth it. If I get out early, it's a chance for some personal time.

2. I have a favorite spot in the waiting room, with the most sunshine and a view of street life. This allows me not to feel so trapped. It helps to have a safe zone to go to every time.

3. I leave my husband at home. Watching him watch the clock and get anxious just does not work for me.

4. Make friends. I look for people close to my age, if I can find someone to chat with the time flies.

5. This next one is crazy, but I look for magazines I have never read before. Sometimes learning about a whole new world (fly fishing, running a franchise, mountain climbing,) is a great distraction. I save the cancer-related reading for a different time. (Pulling out a breast cancer book seems to get me a few extra inches on the subway, however.)

6. I don't wear a watch. Instead I try to pretend I am on a cruise ship on a day at sea, where we won't reach a port. (No port pun intended for those of you with a port.) Have you ever been to a tropical island where the ferry runs on it's own schedule? Cancer center time is similar.

7. Ginger ale. Something about ginger ale just calms me down.

While no list of tips will take the fear and frustration out of being a cancer patient, these strategies have made the waiting and wondering easier for me to endure.

What are your tips? Please share them in the comments section.

image from


  1. Great suggestions! One of my favorites to minimize the wait is to try and schedule your appointment either first thing in the morning or take the first appointment after lunch. Not always possible, but if you get one of those coveted spots, it really does help.


  2. This is a very interesting blog and so i like to visit your blog again and again. Keep it up.


  3. Sharon, thanks for the compliment! You made my day.

  4. I always remind myself of how grateful I've been when my oncologist has spent tons of time with me answering all my questions. So when I'm waiting, I know that it's because there is some other patient who is in that exam room getting bad news, getting information, etc. I try to think of my waiting as a gift the patients-- and how nice it was for some woman to wait while me and my family spent an extra half hour with my doctor after my diagnosis, when we were overwhelmed and confused.

  5. Karen, what a nice way of putting it!