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MRI Would Rather Not, Thank You


Male breast cancer survivor discusses a few uncertainties about his first MRI.

MRI Would Rather Not, Thank You

MRI Would Rather Not, Thank You

Good heavens, there are so many procedures and cancer tests for us to endure that I feel a bit silly bringing this up. But here goes.

I’ve had male breast cancer for 15 months and I have yet to receive an MRI, PET scan or CAT scan. Now, I’ve been scheduled for my first MRI session in a few weeks’ time.

Sounds simple enough to me, except that I am unusually and excessively claustrophobic, based on a near drowning experience as a child. I’ve been told that I’ll be required to lie face down with my eyes and nose lowered into a small dark hole.

When my wife and I were visiting Mexico for our anniversary once, she lovingly bought us two professional massage sessions. I’d never had one of those either. The very kind woman who was attending to us doused me with oils and potions that smelled of banana and mango and had me lie on my stomach while pushing my head into an oval-shaped opening in the table, just large enough for my face. I immediately saw myself underwater, looking through a small diving mask with no way out. Needless to say, I had what I would characterize as a real panic attack.

My wife was both amused and horrified as I explained to my masseuse in broken Spanish that none of this was her fault. I waited in the Cantina feeling a bit sheepish of course, but vowing to avoid the torture of a body massage for the rest of my neurotic days on Earth.

My mammograms are tolerable. My ultrasounds have been uneventful. The needle biopsy was over before I knew it. And my breast surgery is but a phantom memory.

As I read about various cancers and the procedures that go with them, I should feel pretty darned lucky so far.

And so I will have my MRI because I think it’s both wise and necessary. But I won’t hesitate to ask for an Ativan (lorazepam; used to treat anxiety), and I’ll certainly rely on my years of Zen meditation to pull me from the fear of the before and after and back into the very moment that I’m in. MRI will be an acronym for "my recovery insurance."

As a breast cancer survivor I guess this was just another one of those things I needed to get off my chest." I feel better already.

Besides, I don’t believe anyone ever drowned on the eighth floor of a hospital.

Khevin Barnes is a breast cancer speaker and survivor. He works as a professional stage magician and entertainer and prefers to have his assistants crawl in the small boxes whenever possible!



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