I took off my jewelry and slipped it into my purse. I checked my phone one last time before heading into the MRI room. The technician came in to ask me another round of questions.
Is there a history of cancer in your family?
Breast or ovarian?
Anyone tested positive for BRCA 1 or 2 in your family?
Yes, yes, and double yes.
She notes that I’m positive for BRCA 1 and 2 with no comment. What do you say to that?
After I sign my name at the bottom of several consent forms, she prepares to start my IV. She makes small talk. How old are my kids? What do I do for a living? I appreciate the distraction.
The high risk specialist comes in to take my blood for a research donation. Michelle and I become rather acquainted over the past couple years. My mom and I are the only two patients in her program with a positive mutation for both BRCA 1 and 2.
As she’s drawing my blood, she asks, “Is this your 1st MRI?”
“Yes.” I reply.
“Unfortunately it won’t be your last,” she reminds me.
Day to day, it’s easy to forget the burden of knowledge that being BRCA 1 and 2 positive carries, but every time I’m at the breast center, the reality is big and undeniable. I can’t forget. They keep reminding me.
Michele smiles and says she’ll call me with the MRI results and that she’ll see me again soon. Unfortunately it’s true. As a high risk patient, I have to have some form of imaging every 6 months.
The MRI tech returns to take me for my scan.
She introduces me to Kim who smiles sweetly at me. They help me get face down on the table and gear me up with ear plugs, headphones and a blanket. They remind me to stay still.
Over the hum of the MRI machine, the only thing I can hear are the voices in my head.
I walked into the breast center that morning thinking about how no matter how many people are in my life supporting me through this, I ultimately have to take every single step forward on my own. No one can go in the MRI machine with me. No one can go through surgery or recovery with me. No one else can battle the demons in my mind.
And for a moment, facedown on that table, I wanted to weep. The feeling of being alone was nearly overwhelming. I closed my eyes and lifted a one word prayer toward Heaven…”Lord…”
That was it. I didn’t know what else to say.
This was a race I didn’t sign up for, but found myself running anyways. I showed up at the starting line unwilling and felt as though I was the only one running it.
My mind tumbled back to Michele’s earlier comment, “It won’t be your last MRI.”
“We’re just trying to catch it,” I thought for the 1st time since my genetic results came back. “We’re just trying to catch it.”
No one really even knows my risk. The risk of a BRCA 1 or 2 carrier to develop breast or ovarian cancer is anywhere from 50-80% over their lifetime. There aren’t any real statistics for a BRCA 1 and 2 carriers. They believe it to be closer to an 85% chance overall.
So we’re just looking. Over and over again until we find something, basically.
The burden of knowledge. This race I didn’t want to run.
My mind is overwhelmed with the loneliness of this tube and this sound and the thoughts in my head running in their own directions.
And then, a realization.
Here I am, facedown on this table. Arms raised above my head. Unable to move or speak. Unable to even pray signinifcantly.
This is surrender.
This is my surrender.
No, I didn’t want to run this race. I wouldn’t have signed up for it willingly.
Am I grateful for the knowledge? Of course. Everyday. But it’s heavy and burdensome and unsteady.
And all I can muster up to pray is “Lord.”
But it’s all I needed to say. The mention of His name was enough to cover me. The feeling of loneliness fled, and the beautiful reminder that I am never truly alone covered me. I was under the cover of Christ.
It’s true that no person on this earth can walk every step with me, but Christ will never leave. In the MRI tube, through any surgery that may come, in the midst of recovery….He will be there. He fits in the tube, on the bed, in my head.
He is the beginning and the end, and I ultimately believe that this race is just one more that will draw me closer and closer to Him.
I know that none of this will be done alone. I know that in my soul and my heart. My mother is breast cancer survivor who lost her mom (my Grammy) to ovarian cancer. My mom carries the same gene mutations that I do. My sister will also walk this road (is already walking it, really), but later on, she’ll have to make the same decision I will soon about surgery and prevention. And my husband will make every decision, pray every prayer, and go every step that he physically can with me. I won’t be alone. Of course, that’s what the devil would have me believe.
But feeling alone in that MRI machine turned out to be a blessing. It allowed Christ to remind me that I’m not alone. That He is ever near, and that He will cover me when the people I love most on this Earth can’t go with me.
The aloneness forced the surrender that produced the overwhelming rush of love from Christ.
Being arms up and face to the floor gave me more courage than I ever could have mustered standing on my own.
And I doubt I’m the only one out there resisting surrender to the Lord. Maybe He’s really just waiting for all of us to put our hands in the air and truly give our lives to Him.
I think it’s time. It’s time for the freedom that comes from surrender. I know it is for me, and maybe it is for you too.