I’m learning to breathe. Not for exercise. But for my brain.

Since December, I have been wrestling with a higher level of anxiety. I had my first mammogram and received a callback. An ultrasound, revealed a mass that needed a biopsy. Three weeks passed and the biopsy was performed.

Oddly, my anxiety lifted after the procedure. Even though I didn’t know the results, the unknown of what a biopsy would feel like was over.

When the call came Friday afternoon, and it confirmed a benign tumor, I felt like I could live again.

The rest of January passed and bled into February. March brought an odd warming sensation near my leg.  My phobic sixness, as well as my heightened awareness of family history of cancer, led me to my ob/gyn.  Everything was fine, but she told me to check in with my family doctor if it continued.  

A month later brought me to my family doctor.  It’s the beginnings of a hernia was his conclusion, probably brought on me performing too many regular push ups over the past few months…how’s that for trying to show off how strong you are?

Through all of this, I noticed the shortening of breath.  The rambling of thoughts.  Being present but having spent too much time writing a future that was full of sadness.  With our current health situation occurring, it feels like one more layer on top of another that just adds a depth of sadness I can’t explain.  

A belly button hernia emerged last week that took me to the doctor that was covering for my family doctor.  When he finished, he asked, “Anything else?”  Well, since he asked, I shared I had felt a lump that was new to me.  He ordered a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound and the little breath I had left.

How the next six days passed is still a mystery to me.  It was not a pretty week.  I cannot thank my husband enough for how kind he was to me during some really week moments.  I cannot thank my friends enough who listened to me on phone calls or video calls or texts just let me share.  I cannot thank the social media world enough for praying for me and sending me kind messages.  I also cannot thank a dear reader enough who sent me daily quotes to encourage me.  This is not the first time she has done this and it lifted me spirits immensely.  I also cannot thank my God enough for providing resources and truth and peace that would come crashing down like a tidal wave.  

I focused on breathing.  It was all I could do.  When the thoughts came and threatened to crash the little I felt I had left, I exhaled.  Again and again and again.

Yesterday morning, I had the procedures and I’m so thankful to the technician as she was performing the ultrasound…she would stop and take photos and while I tried to look to see if I could see what was going on, it was unclear to me.  I asked her what she saw, and she said, “Nothing.”  Yes, it had to confirmed by the doctor, but the breath slowly started to return.  What I was feeling was normal.  My mammogram was fine.  The doctor released me to come back for my normal mammogram in December. 

As I walked out to the car where my husband was waiting, I noticed the lifting of the layers.  I breathed in the fresh air.  It had never smelled so wonderful!  I could feel it returning to me.  The lifting of my head and spirit.  

This won’t be the last time I ever encounter something hard.  But I will remember the importance of breath.  

Sidenote – As I am writing this, I am listening to music and this song came on…quite timely and such a great reminder.  




4 thoughts on “Breathe

  1. “The lifting of the layers”—so palpable this description of your anxiety lifting. So glad that you can breathe and live a lighter life going forward!


  2. Cathy, this is so well written. Over the years, you have honed your craft. Your writing is beautiful and I hope you see this for yourself. So glad you are breathing easily. Blessings, my friend.


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