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Waiting…. We've all done it. We have all had that universal experience of waiting. Waiting for news; waiting in line; waiting in traffic. Waiting can be distressing, exciting, or a neutral experience. It all depends on the context. Waiting in line at the store is a rather neutral experience, especially if the line is short and you are not running late for something important. Waiting to see your child come off of the bus after a 3-day school trip can be exciting and full of joyous expectation. Waiting for the results of a biopsy, taken from your child's liver to determine if he has a life-threatening illness, is an experience filled with pain and fear. This last context of waiting is the subject of this brief essay.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author: William Breitbart, M.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 641 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022, USA. E-mail:




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