Heading into the biopsy, I had a few questions.
How badly is it going to hurt? I heard everything from “You’ll think, ‘Is that it?'” to “It hurts like a mother.”
Should I have Brent in the room with me during the procedure? I settled on him staying in the waiting room. I didn’t want to watch him watching me go through this. It would make it too real.
Can I just throw in the ear buds and zone out as much as possible? If so, what would my ultimate biopsy playlist be? I joked that maybe I should listen to Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” just to make things even MORE emotional. Maybe some Flo Rida would help me escape? Or Rend Collective would help ground me?! I settled on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Good thing because earbuds were MIA and I played dj while they worked on me. They loved having music.
Here’s how it went…
Before the biopsy, I had a contrast mammogram. This is to take an extra good look at all the innards for any missed suspicious masses. For this procedure, they administer iodine through an IV. It’s wild because within a few seconds you feel heat in your throat. And then a moment later, it feels exactly like you just peed your pants. The sensation goes away quickly, but it feels so real. The techs assured me that no one actually pees their pants. That part felt like a science experiment.
Next up was the biopsy. I’m a bonafide wimp. This was a big deal to me. I tried to avert my eyes when I recognized the big biopsy needle and collection cups on the tray. The radiologist was kind enough to warn me about the sound the trigger would make when he collected the tissue. It’s a little jarring. He also informed me that they were not going to take a sample from the lymph nodes. Hallelujah! That’s the one that hurts! But, they had two spots they wanted to sample on the breast. Wah-wah. Nevermind. Party’s over. Go home. Sounds like cancer. Boo.
Then the stupid party got started with injections of lidocaine. Lidocaine burns a little at first, but it’s totally bearable and you’re numb before you know it (as probably most of you know, but I am inexperienced in the world of stitches and pain and medical procedures). The radiologist collected two samples from each mass. After the tissue was retrieved, he used the little biopsy gun to place a tiny carbon-coated ceramic marker at the site. If you don’t have cancer, it stays in your body forever. If you do get the crappy news, then at some point, they will use the marker to locate the bad stuff and cut it out of you (aka lumpectomy or mastectomy).
Very few people knew I was going through this. Those who knew, were praying. To be honest, I couldn’t pray. In these “waiting to find out” days, I felt God’s presence like I hadn’t felt in years. And as crazy as this sounds, I remember saying to Brent, “If I do have cancer, it’s the best thing that could happen to me.” Because when it comes down to it, I trust God with my life. I trust that he’s powerful enough to stop cancer, but that sometimes he uses trials for our good.
But I’m not always sure God likes me.
When three samples had been taken and there was one left to go, it occurred to me to pray, but as that last trigger retracted, all that eked out of my heart was, “Do you love me?” That’s all I could ask of the God I trust. That’s all I wanted to know. I trust you. You’re good. You’re powerful. But, do I mean anything to you? Have I done too many bad things for you to smile on me? And, like that, the moment was gone. Pressure was applied to prevent a hematoma. The tech bandaged me up with some tape and gave me instructions about icing and we were on our way.
I came home a little fragile. I sent Brent back to work. Alone with the rawness of just being poked and prodded, I received a song suggestion for the biopsy playlist. It was too late for that, but clicked the link anyway. She didn’t know about my only prayer of the day. Here are some of the lines from the song she sent:
I’m trying to work things out
I’m trying to comprehend
Am I the chance result
Of some great accident
I hear a rhythm call me
The echo of a grand design
I spend each night in the backyard
Staring up at the stars in the sky
Maybe this was made for me
For lying on my back in the middle of a field
Maybe that’s a selfish thought
Or maybe there’s a loving God
Maybe I was made this way
To think and to reason and to question and to pray
And I have never prayed a lot
But maybe there’s a loving God
From “Maybe There’s a Loving God” by Sara Groves
Thinking on this day, on this moment and this song…it still brings tears to my eyes. I was suffering from spiritual despondency when this scare-turned-cancer thing happened. And all I really needed to know was that he’s a loving God. That’s all I need to know most days.