“How was your MRI?” My husband, Ryan, asks when I walk through the backdoor. “Was it scantastic?”

I chuckle and think, kinda. Remembering the throat squeezing scanxiety I used to face every single MRI. Scans now are more of a nuisance. I’d rather be writing or running or reading or hanging out with my family, but they don’t make my pulse quicken anymore, terrified of what the results might reveal.


Early Morning

Even so, today is a challenging day. MRI day always seems to bring some sort of struggle with it. I slept poorly last night. I woke up to go to the bathroom. I tossed and turned, then dreamt that I woke up in my girlhood home. My alarm had failed and I’d missed my appointment. I open my eyes and looked at my watch: five am. One hour before I need to get up. But my body won’t relax, so I stop trying after half an hour and pull myself out of bed. I get dressed in my ensuite where I laid my clothes out the night before and slink down to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. I look out my window: it’s still dark outside. Of course, it is. But I had not thought of that yesterday; oh how I dislike driving in the dark. And to boot my nervous system is still frazzled from car shopping with Ryan in busy Vancouver yesterday. Too much highway driving this week. 

My thoughts drift to my MRI. Ugh, the sterile hospital; the lonely, loveless protocols; poking tools; and procedures. I feel ungrounded, unraveled, like I can’t do it, like I’m broken and not enough, like cancer has marred me and I hate the hospital’s reminder of this.

This morning, unlike my dream, I am not actually late, but rather early to rise. I take this time to meditate. I open YouTube on my phone and navigate through my favorites to an Artist Morning video called “Positive Energy”. The meditation guide’s voice is soothing; as I sit and listen I relax. Calm and love are available to you, the guide says. As he continues to speak I see everything cloaked in grace. The waiting room, the people, the MRI tube, the highway I despise driving on. All of it is covered in a grace-forcefield.

And I know I must accept- I must believe I can accept- that it will be okay. No matter what, no matter my MRI results, it will be okay because this grace, this loving warmth wraps me in her shawl and holds me tight and sprinkles her petals on the path before me like a flower girl. My mom’s voice echoes in my mind, “Cheryl, it will be okay.” How could she say those words to me when we both thought she was dying? I wondered then, I wonder still. Slowly, I am realizing it’s because when Grace is here, it will always be okay.

When the meditation finishes I play You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban. “You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas.” The words soothe my soul and I think of all the stormy waters I’ve traversed in life thus far. The ones I’ve walked upon.

By now it’s almost time to go, so I grab my coffee, glance at the clock (7 am) and place my car keys in my pocket.



I’m grateful that my dark drive is over when I step into the MRI room. I change into hospital garb, put earplugs in, and climb atop the bed that glides me into the MRI tube. By now this routine is old hat. I close my eyes. I’m ready to relax, nothing required of me, but to lie completely still. 

“Here we go Cheryl.” The technician says from the room next door, over the speaker. In the past, I’ve spent my time in that tube pretending I’m relaxing in a float bath or on the beach relaxing on my towel. Today, I listen carefully to the machine’s noises. Boom, boom, boom, thump thump, thump, like the combination of a throbbing headache and a robotic electronic dance party. The sounds quickly morph tick, tick, tick, tick, like a woodpecker on a metal tree. Then an angle grinder cuts steel above my head until the machine begins pulsing pulsing pulsing pulsing pulsing pulsing without a pause. Though I am calm, I would not call this relaxation. 

The MRI bed slides me slightly deeper into the tube and whiiiiiiiir, merk, merk, merk, merk resound throughout the cylinder. The sounds change once more Bling, bling, bling, bling. I’m surrounded by a video lottery terminal. I used to fancy myself a lucky person, frequently winning contests as a child, now with a very unlucky diagnosis I’m not so sure. The racket gives way to the pseudo-calming electronic meditation bowls. Maybe here’s the relaxation  I wonder, then chuckle inwardly at the notion as rims are seemingly circled round and round and round and round. Incessant. No lapse in between for me to listen for the vibrations to fade. It winds me up, not down. 


Don’t open your eyes!

Maybe I should open my eyes? I think. It’s a very bad idea that I can’t get out of my head. I’m not sure why it tempts me. I opened my eyes once during a previous scan and the blue skies I’d been envisioning were swallowed up by the plastic covered head cage right in front of my face and the beige inner surface of the MRI tube just beyond that. Not only was the breeze of the beach gone, all air had seemingly been sucked out of the room. My eyes widened then clamped shut. Breathe Cheryl, breathe- but do not swallow, so they don’t have to repeat the scan.          


Home again

  I return home, Ryan and I grab our skates and meet my daughter, Rayna, at the ice rink to join her class on their field trip. I feel like a kid gliding on the ice. “Thanks for coming, Mom and Dad.” Rayna smiles at us. She still wants to spend time with her parents. I smile back. This was a sweet moment worth rushing to, but when it’s over, I’m exhausted. What a day, and it’s only lunchtime. Instead of eating I crawl into bed without taking my jacket off and doze. 


The wait

For the next week or so we will wait, going on with our lives like normal (whatever that is) scanxiety lurking under the surface as it inevitably does. No longer overt, but still unavoidable. 

This is cancer. This is my life. Oh may it all be cloaked in grace.

Wishing each and everyone of you oodles of grace for your journeys.




“Happy New Year!” My oncologist smiles as he walks into the room. “And I wouldn’t say happy unless you had good results!” I
 smile at his humor/kindness/celebratory remarks. 

I’d honestly thought about writing the end of this blogpost before I received my results, I only expected good results. But, I thought perhaps that was tempting fate. However you want to frame it, I am grateful for good news and I appreciate you all journeying with me. To close (for real this time) let me share a poem by Emily Dickenson (she’s the best!) that I read this week (I’m slowly working my way through her complete works). Perhaps we all can find reverence in the simple days, good results or bad.


To Venerate the simple days
Which lead the season by
Needs but to remember
That from you or I
They may take the trifle
Termed Mortality.

Emily Dickenson

(If you’re like me, who had to look up the definition of “venerate” , let me save you a step: it means to make reverent. Isn’t it such a great word?!)