Just Breathe

Poppy in field of Baby's Breath

Heavy. I can not move. My right leg is eager, willing to handle the weight of my body, but it resents having to do so. Sure, it is a part of a team, but for an entire year, it has had to carry the left. It is tired, worn out, disproportioned. Not as disproportioned as her sister, for she is disfigured in a different way.

Cancer has a way of taking something away from you. Your hair, your life, your dreams, your mobility – and sometimes it takes away your lymph nodes, those tiny nodules that you never think about until they are stripped from the confines of your body. Though there are many, removing just two can disrupt the entire system, creating heaviness, burning, and a sense of fullness from deep inside. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed, despite my doctors assuring me that the pain I feel when my foot hits the ground is good for me; it is worth it, they say, walking is medicinal.

My toes, now fat little sausages, burn from the inside out as thick fluid builds up begging for a place to escape. I wish I could drill a hole in them to relieve the pressure and drain the pain. I wish I could feel my skin, but it is blanketed with a layer of scar tissue that has left a scaly, lifeless indention. I used to have cute feet. The bubblegum toe polish is just a façade.

I am told to breathe – that deep breathing helps move trapped lymph fluid. I have to admit, I don’t do it. Seems like a bunch of bullshit to me – breathing can’t possibly relieve the constant pressure and pain I feel in my lower extremity. And it certainly can’t take away the disfigurement; the crater that stage IV melanoma so cruelly left behind. But today I tried. Today I took deep breaths. I concentrated on my fat toes. I visualized my reddish-purple foot and ankle releasing the evil toxins that hold them captive. I imagined the crater closing up and the thick juice turning into a flowing river of necessity. My thigh welcomed the prodigal solution – it had been waiting for its return. The system had been restored, if only for a while. It will take repetition; a concentrated effort of self-love to reunite, but the time invested is worth it. Breathe my sweet sister; you are alive. Breathe, my love, for you have been healed. You are a survivor. Just breathe.


Just Breathe Rocks and flower
                                                                                                                                          Photo credit: Vicki McLead


6 thoughts on “Just Breathe”

  1. I am sorry you had to go through this whole thing and that you are going through all this pain now, but the end result could have been MUCH worse. You were blessed, you still have work to do in this life. Perhaps this journey could be a teaching moment for you to educate others of the seriousness of skin cancer. It’s a cancer that isn’t talked about much, but yet is more common and deadly than most people are aware. Keep breathing and take it one day at a time.

    1. Thank you, Vicki! You are so correct – people just don’t give melanoma much thought. I hope I am bringing some attention to it – I am very thankful to be here to do so! 🙂

  2. I find it intriguing how we often find our deepest joy within our deepest pain. Our stories are always worth sharing because someone, somewhere, needs the surrounding, supporting arms such stories can provide. Breathe.

    1. I once heard someone say, “Never waste a pain.” I have tried to heed that advice in my life though divorce and cancer. Though all of our experiences differ, those of us who have enough similarities in our trials can receive comfort in knowing we are not alone.

  3. I didn’t know you were dealing with cancer! This writing was beautifully expressed. I could feel it like it was happening to me. I hope you will be fully recovered. 🙏🏻

    1. Hi Rebecca! Thank you so much. I am so very blessed in that I am now cancer-free! Lymphedema is a small price to pay for life, so I press on! But how therapeutic it has been to write/express those feelings of frustration and loss. I am pleased that this piece spoke to you. Thanks my friend.

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