“Are you scared?” a co-worker asked me. I had just had two biopsies taken from my left breast.
Here is a little background: I have dense, cystic breasts, and since I was about 30 years old, I have been going for routine ultra sounds to monitor them and make sure there were no suspicious changes.
Two weeks ago, I was told that two of the nodules (small lumps) in my left breast had grown and that I needed to have a biopsy taken from each of them to confirm that they were not cancerous. I had read that most biopsies come back normal, so I wasn’t too concerned and the doctor didn’t seem too worried either. However, even if something was wrong, I knew it could be caught early because of the close monitoring. I go for bilateral ultrasounds on my breasts every six months.
When I was asked if was scared, I answered honestly, “No,” and went into my logical reasoning. To the average person it would seem a bit strange that I wasn’t scared. My mother had a biopsy done a few years ago and she was very anxious until the results came back. Thankfully, they came back benign.
So why the heck was I so calm? The answer lies inside my head. What I mean by that is that while my body had some things that were in question, it paled in comparison to what routinely goes on inside my mind. My mind is a bully and likes to hold me hostage with its nagging thoughts and negative energy. Before the biopsy, my mind was still chatting and being a bit obnoxious. It wasn’t until a few days ago, that I realized how antagonizing and aggressive my pesky mind can be.
Here is a little more about me that you may not know. Since my mid teens, I have battled depression and anxiety and wasn’t officially diagnosed until the age of 21 when I suffered a overgenerous breakdown. Thanks be to God, I am in a much better place now, but my 20s were really rough. My mind was a real, bad bully, constantly spitting out negative thoughts, which, led to self harm and my contemplation of suicide. I believed that I was better off dead, so when I say the mind is a bully, I know firsthand.
Now let’s get back to the biopsy. If I had it my way, I would have gone to the biopsy alone, but because I am not able to drive, and didn’t know exactly when I would get finished, I decided to have my mother be my ride rather than arranging for ParaTransit to take me to and from the appointment.
The night before the biopsy my thoughts were like this:
“I know I am going to be totally awake for this, but man, I wish they could give me a little Valium or something to relax me because I don’t want to be totally conscious. If I am totally conscious I may cry and I don’t want them to see me cry.”
It is really interesting that I have had had 9 surgeries in my lifetime, one of which saved my life (my appendix burst in ’96). However, still to this day I am not a fan of needles and watching any kind of medical procedures being done. I get a little queasy at the sight of blood.
My prayer to God that night went like this:
“Lord, I am putting this in your hands. Whatever happens, happens, and we will get through it together, but I have one favor to ask: Please help me to remain tough during this thing. Don’t allow me to get all wimpy. I really don’t want to cry. I don’t like to cry in front of people.”
Well, it is a good thing my mother took me to my appointment because when I arrived the next morning for my appointment, the radiology department was at least 30 minutes behind schedule, which meant that I would be leaving my appointment at least 30 minutes later. Of course I felt bad that she would be staying there at least 30 minutes longer, though. She sat in the back of the waiting room with my father. Yes, I forgot to mention that earlier that morning my father was in the vicinity of the area for a doctor appointment. After his appointment finished, he arrived just as my mother and I entered the radiology department. I sat toward the front of the waiting room so that I would have no trouble hearing my name being called. The whole time I was sitting and waiting, my mind was talking a mile a minute.
“I can’t believe both your parents are with you at your age.”
“You should have just went by yourself. You are 35 years old, not 10. No one your age would have a parent take them.”
“You shouldn’t have let your parents come. They have better things that they could be doing.”
“You are such a pain in the ass.”
This went on for a few minutes. I was trying to prove to my mind that there were people who were my age and older who had at least one parent accompany them to a medical test like a biopsy. I thought that my 50-year old cousin had his mother take him to and from his colonoscopy and endoscopy appointment, but when I asked my mother, she corrected me and said that it was his wife that took him. Dang, I was out of luck. I couldn’t think of anyone else.
Finally, my name was called and I went in. I cracked a few jokes to lighten up the mood. When I was asked if I knew how the procedure was going to go, I answered: “Oh yeah, I watched videos on YouTube.”
Both biopsies went fairly quickly and the doctor told me what she was doing as she was doing it. I had a local anesthetic so I couldn’t feel any pain just pressure, but I looked away and kept my eyes closed the entire time. “I don’t want to see anything,” I had told her before she got started. The fact that I knew what was happening made me a little queasy. Surprisingly, my mind was relatively quiet. Sure it was thinking things like, “Is it done yet?” or “I am hungry,” but I had no annoying thoughts.
Last Friday, I received a phone call from the doctor with great news: both biopsies came back benign!
The moral of this story is to not tell you my biopsy experience, but to give you a glimpse of the mind and its influence. In life we deal with both physical pain and emotional pain. For whatever reason, I find emotional pain and problems that stem from the mind to be more difficult to deal with. In many ways, it is easier to heal a physical wound than it is heal an emotional wound. It is also difficult to overcome the bad habits of the mind. My mind has an awful habit of putting me down and comparing me to other people. As a result. I feel pretty badly about myself.
While I was sitting in that waiting room, I should have been thinking: “Wow, look how lucky and blessed I am! Both my parent are here to support me while I get my biopsies.” Instead my mind was spitting out all kind of negative thoughts and making me feel bad when I should have been thanking my lucky stars. My parents were there for me and I was not able to see this reality for what it was because I had allowed that reality to become distorted. This is what happens when you become a prisoner of the mind. One is not able to see oneself and life very clearly. That’s why when I pray I always ask God the following:
Help me to see myself as You see me, not as society sees me.
The mind is heavily influenced by our society and in case you have not noticed, our society is not in alignment with God.
The mind is very intelligent but that doesn’t mean it is right. It is like the devil because it tells lies and convinces you of a reality that is completely false. I believe that the devil and demonic forces influence the mind. The mind breeds doubt and doubt is the enemy.
Sitting in that waiting room, my mind had convinced me that I was a loser, a wimp and a pain in the ass. I had allowed it to bully me for a good 30 minutes, and I had allowed it to influence my opinion of myself. I constantly have to remind myself that I am not my mind. I am a soul, a spirit, that was created by God. For the reasons mentioned above, the mind can be very dangerous because it can destroy a soul if one allows it. And now a quote from the ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, Lao Tzu:
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”