“Holding My Breath”

“Okay Sandra, hold your breath.”

The MRI technician’s voice seeps through the big white tunnel of the imaging machine. It jolts me back to reality. For a moment, I had been thinking about my pink fuzzy socks in my drawer at home…and mittens. Oh yes, mittens would be so yummy right now. It is cold in the imagining room. I am on my back with my arms above my head. My doctor has ordered Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to get better pictures of my breasts and lymph nodes.

The MRI doesn’t hurt. But it is not very cozy. And the intermittent noise sounds like the buzzing when the tweezers touched metal in the “Operation” game I had as a child. I remember the game’s patient. His light bulb nose glowing bright red….”BUZZZZZZZZZ.”

I have been ordered to stay still. “Don’t move or we might have to take the pictures again,” the steely voice of the technician warns me. There have been so many pictures of my chest over the past few days, I might feel like a Playboy centerfold…if not for the flimsy hospital gown I’m wearing and the IV in my right arm.
“And hold your breath again for me.”

As a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient, I’ve been holding my breath often: when my cellphone chimes to indicate I have a voicemail from my doctor. When I replay the message and she says…”I have the results of your MRI,” when my 10 year old daughter looks up at me from her math homework and says, “”Mom? Emily at school says you…..”

Many of you might wonder why I am publicizing such a personal journey. I do it because it’s not just my story. It is the story of the 2.5 million women in the U.S. who are breast cancer survivors. It is the story of millions…and it is the story of one. Because when the cancer patient awakes at 2 a.m., it is her heart being squeezed by the skeletal fingers of fear. When I tell my doctor about this blog. She looks at me and smiles. “That is awesome. People already know you. They trust you. You will save lives!”

It’s only been one week, so far I have not asked the question: “Why me God?” I am approaching my diagnosis with the prayer: “Okay, God I need to feel your presence as I fight for my life.”

I also am learning. My cancer was not palpable. That means I could not feel the marble sized tumor that has set up as a squatter in my body. A radiologist saw something suspicious on my mammogram and ordered an ultrasound, then a biopsy and an MRI. Self examination is so important. But, in my case a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy confirmed the cancer. Almost immediately I wonder what caused the tumor. What are the biggest risk factors? Smoking? Poor diet? Chemical exposure? No, no and no. The biggest risk factors for developing breast cancer according to breastcancer.org are being a woman and getting older. That’s it.

“All finished. You can get dressed now Sandra.” Tomorrow I will get a call from my doctor. “I have the results of your MRI. Everything looks good. I don’t see anything suspicious in the lymph nodes.”

As I press “End Call” on my cellphone, I realize for the first time in a long time, I am no longer holding my breath.

More from Sandra Mitchell
  • 82ndAirborneSniper

    “I have the results of your MRI. Everything looks good. I don’t see anything suspicious in the lymph nodes.”

    That’s wonderful news, Sandra – heal and feel better soon…

  • Shannon Miller

    This blog is a very generous thing for you to do, Sandy. I wonder how many women scheduled their mammogram after reading this?

    Love and prayers,
    Shannon Leigh

  • Ifsha Buttitta

    Sandra – Your strength and positivity are amazing. While going through this you are still helping others by sharing your story. My thoughts and prayers are with you; I loved your story about singing Hit Me With Your Best Shot. You WILL get through this!!

  • Audrey Thacker


    I feel that entwined rage and sadness that accompany my hearing of a cancer diagnosis in someone so vibrant and giving. I am both heartbroken and offended (as I was when I was told the same news about my cousin, just weeks ago, literally) that you must go through this. But the fact that you are using your own difficult journey for good–to enable and inspire others–is a testament to your hopefulness and generosity of spirit, a lesson for all of us. Stay strong! Keep us apprised! We are with you!

  • sharon harleigh

    this is incredibly generous and helpful to both cancer survivors and those who are going through it currently…. as the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I hold my breath every time that my mother has a check-up, and of course I hope for the best during my check-ups. I am so appreciative of your generosity and the strength you have to share this with others. Bless you and your family. You are in my prayers.

    Sharon Harleigh

  • Pam Mitchell

    Hello Sandra,
    My husband and I just want you to know we are praying for you. We both feel like you are part of our family, we love seeing everyday on the noon news.
    I have spent the last 6 months battling my own battle with breast cancer. Not once have I asked God, “why me Lord”. I to have shared my journey with friends and family, knowing that they have prayed for me, this has given me so strength. My very first thoughts went to the song, ” God Will Take Care Of You”.
    Give your journey to him, and yes he does take care of you.
    God Bless you
    Pam Mitchell

  • Beatrice

    So powerful Sandy! Thank you for sharing it. You will save lives!

  • The Djembabe

    wow… this is so tough for you.. I can’t imagine the strength in just writing this must have taken…

  • Sib Ventress

    Flying colors tomorrow, Sandy! We’ll be thinking of you. :)

  • MariaElena

    Hi Sandra,
    I am so glad for the wonderful news that you got. Such great news that there is nothing suspicious in your lymph nodes. I have been praying for you ever since I heard the news. I can only imagine the relief that you must be feeling right now. I hope that this means that you are going to be on the road to recovery. Please keep us posted on what the results of your MRI mean and on how you are doing. I will never, ever in my life, forget the scare that I had with my mom; if there is hell, I went through it with that life -or- death experience. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Chuck Davis

    Hi Sandy, we are praying for you everyday. We look forward to your next. Blog. God. Bless

  • Charlene Davies

    I think it was Winston Churchill who said “when you’re going through hell, just keep going.’ Thank you for sharing.

  • Frank Alli

    Hi Sandra,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • Pauline Terry

    Sandy My prayer is that you get through this recovery very soon. You will be blessed for what you are doing for so many women. I myself made my appt to get checked because it has been a few years.So thank you….LOVE Pauline Terry

  • The Paren Family

    Sandy, you are in our thoughts and prayers today and always! The power of prayer can truly heal, and you have so many prayers being sent out on your behalf…there is no question that this part of your journey has a happy ending! Thank God that you went for your mammogram!
    Love, light, and blessings,
    Amandah and Dusttin

  • http://www.mediabistro.com/tvspy/anchor-sandra-mitchell-blogs-about-her-cancer-battle-on-kcbs-kcal-website_b20239 Anchor Sandra Mitchell Blogs About Her Cancer Battle on KCBS-KCAL Website - TVSpy

    […] Here’s an excerpt from a recent post: […]

  • Bill Griffith

    Sandy, I’m a San Diego newscaster who went through breast cancer surgery and treatment 7 years ago — and I’m a man! Blogging my battle was a huge part of my healing, and I know it will be for you, too. It is also an unselfish way to raise awareness. And you’ll love the support from your viewers. Please allow me the privilege of adding my prayers to those offered above here. I’ll also pray for your husband and daughter. As co-survivors they have a tough journey ahead, too.
    Bill Griffith

  • Stephanie

    You are such an inspiration to all women! Thank you so much for your sincerity. We are all praying for you.

  • Angie Hood

    Sandy, heard from Jerry about your cancer diagnosis and blog. I will be praying for you and your precious family every day.You will handle this with intelligence, grace, wit and style, as you do everything else. I just saw Liz Hurley yesterday at the Pink Heals tour in Madison and she looks great so many years after her battle with breast cancer. Know that I love yo,u and boy do I wish I could give you a hug in person! Our phone number is the same…call anytime.

  • wendy vega

    I worked at kcal doing audio with you til 2004. I am so sorry! You are so young! My sis had it hat 38 and shes OK. I wish you all the best. Wendy Vega

  • Heather

    As one of those millions and about a year and a half out of chemo, I hope this is but a tiny, though frightening, blip in what will be a long, happy, healthy life.

  • Bill Lipp

    Remember back at Temple when I told you that you should be in front of the camera and you laughed at me? You’ve come a long way….glad that I was right. I am adding you to my daily prayer list. Your attitude is half of the fight and you’ve got that nailed.

    Take care!
    Bill Lipp

  • M>L> Bow

    Sandra….You’re a strong and wonderful person to tell your very personal story. Thank you…..You and your family will be in my prays.

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