About a month ago now (please forgive the infrequency of my posts) I had a panic attack during a workout. You’ll remember I have this slow growing nodule in my lung. When I last wrote, we had found that in a year, the nodule had grown from two tenths of a millimeter to six tenths of a millimeter, despite chemo. It’s still tiny but any abnormal cell growth is a concern with my history. I had discussed there were three options, biopsy, radiation and surgery. The morning of my panic attack I had met with my oncologist to discuss what we would do next. We decided to do a biopsy, determine once and for all if it was cancer or not and make our decision based off these results. She said, “Now Amy, if the biopsy is positive [for cancer], I’m going to recommend surgery over radiation.” That’s the aggressive course, don’t wait to see if radiation works, get the thing out. It made sense to me and I left her office in agreement and headed to the gym to meet up and workout with friends.
It was an intense workout programmed that day, an EMOM of thrusters and burpee box jump overs. (If you don’t do Crossfit and don’t have any idea what that means, it’s fine, it’s not important. Just know it’s an intense workout with a time component.) chemo has impacted my ability to workout A LOT. Often i get dizzy during rest breaks because my blood pressure can’t keep up and I’m still recovering from my massive surgery in February. This particular day, my body was tired and sore so I scaled the reps and was determined to give it my all. Here’s one thing you should know about Crossfit, the workouts are more than just physical. There’s a mental and emotional component that requires grit and commitment. If you’re having a rough day and your emotionally taxed going in, it’s going to manifest itself in the workout. As the workout progresses and fatigue set in you need mental fortitude. You need to say, “Keep going! Don’t quit! Finish this set! You can do it!” But when you’re already mentally and emotionally tired the reserves for positive self talk and determination just aren’t there. As I warmed up and didn’t feel great, a pitying thought entered my mind and nestled in my heart, “You’re so far from where you want to be physically. Look how tired you are! You’re not getting better.” So as I started the workout I was already feeling sorry for myself. As I got tired and was gasping for air, instead of pushing myself to stick with it, my thoughts went to cancer and surgery. “Just when I was starting to be able to push during workouts without being dizzy and lift heavier weights I have to recover all over again! Go back to square one!?” And that’s when the panic hit. I started hyperventilating and crying and fought my hardest to calm down and get back to the reps. I paced in circles in the corner during a rest period as my thoughts spiraled darker and darker. Then this inner voice cut through the panic, “Why are you fearful of what isn’t even determined yet? You don’t even know if it’s cancer, much more, you don’t know if you need surgery. Stay in the now!” And I took a deep breath and finished the workout.
This mental/emotional and ultimately spiritual fight is my normal. I’m lucky enough to have people behind the scenes continuing to pray for me and wage this battle with me. I have excellent friends who talk me down and provide me with limitless support. I am anchored to this space of hope and peace.
I have lots more news but here’s an encouraging story to tide you over till my next post. Know with certainty that the voice that cuts through my panic is not my own and is equally available to you. We’ve all got dark thought spirals in our life, but there’s only one voice powerful enough to still the screaming panic and whisper calm. More soon!