24/7 MOMS

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Family History Club

By: Steph Fink

“You’re here just for family history reasons?” the white-cloaked technician inquired. 
“Well, for that and a follow-up because I had a biopsy two years ago…it was a benign cyst,” I stoically replied.
“Okay…follow me to the changing area.”
As I secured my possessions and left “the gown open in front,” my emotions began to rev up.  Lord, why AM I  so spun up right now? It’s just a simple test! Help me, Lord, for I want to chew this technician’s head off and I don’t know why.
I abandoned the spa-like dressing room only to enter the un-spa-like medical cave complete with a see-through glass window.  As the technician positioned the IV needle into my arm, I couldn’t shake the “family history” question.  I hate that question, hate it.  I feel more exposed telling this technician about Mom and Grandma’s deaths than in this horrid gown.
“Lie face down and put your breasts through the cut-outs.  The test will take about 20 minutes.  Lie still.”  She then stuffed earplugs into my ears and exited the cave to observe me from the adjoining room.  How humiliating.
I lay still on the board as it crept snail-like backward into the sterile white cylinder.  As the obnoxiously loud and random beeps ping ponged around me, this tough girl did the unthinkable: I started to cry.  What is going on…get yourself together!
Since I rarely run in idle mode, God used this time to have me come face-to-face with my “family history.”  Never before did I correlate the anger and fear that periodically surged at the most random times, like with an innocent technician who was just doing her job.  The mascara-mixed puddle of tears that collected on the floor below me had everything to do with “family history.”
Sure, it’s not typical for a 34-year-old woman to get a breast MRI.  Even less typical, was a young girl who watched her mother die a slow, long, painful death at the consuming hand of breast cancer.  I was the only eighth-grade graduate whose mother cheered from a wheelchair with a reflective head and scars that mimicked a war veteran.  That was my last milestone with Mom on earth.  I miss you so much Mom…
The free-flowing fountain of tears cleared my vision and for the first time, I saw the real origin.  Every club I joined was my choice with the exception of the Family History Club.  And because of who I knew, I am non-consensually granted Lifetime Member status.  This club doesn’t have a special handshake or a funky-tasseled, elk-horned hat.  No, this membership involves medical providers who raise their eyebrows whenever the “family history” questions arise, periodic pity parties, and of course, extracurricular inspections.
As a child, I had fears which have since been resolved.  I am no longer afraid that the “Jaws” shark might suddenly appear in my bath, nor that the “Planet of the Apes” cast will ravage my home.  As a woman, I lived through the 1999 F-5 tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma, and the tragic 9-11 Pentagon plane crash.  While both those experiences weren’t pleasant, they didn’t scare me.  Honestly, few things scared me before I had children. Now that I am a mother, I have this new found fear of leaving my precious children motherless.
It wasn’t until months after that MRI cry-fest that I received closure to the questions that had plucked my heartstrings since I was 13.  How did Mom face breast cancer, surgery and treatments? How did she face a failed remission, knowing that she was going to leave behind a husband and four girls who depended on her?
The Holy Spirit reminded me of the most precious gift my dad ever gave me, my mom’s Bible.  Her Bible and faith were messy and real.  The underlined scriptures, grocery lists and scribble-filled sermon notes that littered her King James Version tell me the answers. The only way she faced the reality of her diagnosis was with courage and faith.  Not faith in herself, but faith in her God.
In the third chapter of Daniel, the Bible tells the story of three men who refused to bow down and worship a false idol.  An angry King Nebuchadnezzar placed them in a fiery furnace to die.  However, the Bible says there were four inside the fiery furnace.  Doing a head count, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego make three.  But they were not alone.  God was there.  With them.  In the fire. 
Their refusal to worship a false idol required faith and courage.  As I thought about their example, God showed me I worshipped my fear more than I worshipped Him.  And without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
My mother gave me a front row seat to what real faith and courage look like.  Since that reality check, I have refused to bow down to the fear of an “if.” I trust that if the day should ever come that I too am diagnosed with breast cancer, God will continue to be with me.  He promises, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
While I did not choose my Family History Club membership, I have changed my response to it by choosing faith over fear.
*(Previously published by Proverbs 31 Ministries, in P31 Woman Magazine, October 2010)

Steph's writing has appeared in Proverbs 31 Ministry, P31 Woman magazine.  In her free time she can be found encouraging numerous MOPS group in the northern Virginia area on the "Colorful Art of Friendship - Allowing God to Paint the Masterpieces" and MOPS leaders on "Being a Bright Light".

Steph can be found blogging at www.encouragedinheart.org or on Facebook at Stephanie Fink or on her Facebook page Encouraged in Heart - Stephanie Fink.  She loves big hair, big cups of coffee and big bear hugs.



Anonymous Steph said...

Thank you Trisha, for allowing me to share my fear, my faith, and my life with the wonderful 24/7 MOMS community. It's my heart that another mother releases a fear today up to God.

August 7, 2011 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Mimi said...

What a bravely-written piece! Thanks for sharing this part of yourself with us, Steph. xo

August 7, 2011 at 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Wow Stephanie.....I don't know what to say. You are amazing, awesome, wonderful, etc. etc. -- I could come up with a whole lot more adjectives, but I think you get the idea. God bless you in facing your fears.......the struggle will probably pop up once in awhile, however just keep focused on what you printed here, and you will be fine!

August 7, 2011 at 12:04 PM  
Anonymous meredith said...

I have often wished that I could be a memeber of the "Family History Club". I always had to explain why i would write "does not apply" in the family history of a physical exam. When I used to think of having childern my fear was not knowing if I was passing on something that could harm that child.

August 7, 2011 at 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Kim C. said...

Such a powerful example of choosing faith over fear! It can be so hard to do, especially when we are at our most powerless. As always, your submissions are a real blessing! Love you!!

August 7, 2011 at 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Nichole said...

Wow, Steph! Such a powerful and heartfelt testimony. Thanks for sharing your heart and being vunerable for the world to read. I appreciate you and your writing so very much.

August 9, 2011 at 6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steph, Your writings clear out my tear ducts on a regular basis. I really enjoy your article. Kathy D.

August 11, 2011 at 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



August 19, 2011 at 9:26 AM  

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