“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
“Okay…follow me to the changing
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
“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
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.
published by Proverbs 31 Ministries, in P31 Woman
Magazine, October 2010)
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
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.