On Inheritance and Death

Back in the spring of 2018, in the midst of ongoing testing for what would eventually get diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, I pursued genetic testing to see if I had a heritable risk for cancer. See my grandpa died of cancer, my lito died of cancer, my grandmother died of cancer when I was just a few months old, and just a couple years ago my dad also died of cancer.

Cancer has been a dark cloud over my family for years. I would joke that I knew I was going to die from cancer, it was just a question of when. It’s not a funny joke, I admit, but it’s what you do to try and make light of an awful situation. But when I started having pain all over with no known cause the fear of cancer was suffocating. I had to know. I could no longer live with this dark fog of fear causing me to panic with every twinge of unexplained pain.

So I went and saw a genetic counselor who agreed that with my family history, especially my grandmother’s ovarian cancer, that I would be a good candidate for testing and that my insurance should pay for it. We drew some blood and sent it off in the mail and I waited…. a few weeks later she called and said that I did indeed test positive for a heritable cancer risk gene. I tested positive for an EPCAM variant that causes Lynch Syndrome. For me this means more frequent screenings and tests in hopes that if I get cancer they will catch it early.

In a lot of ways getting results like that can feel like a death sentence. But in truth I had already inherited that long ago. In Romans 5 Paul talks about our inheritance of death from Adam. Through the sin of Adam and Eve we are all condemned to die. (Read Genesis 3, Romans 5). But Paul points us to the cure. It’s one of those verses that is such a common memory verse to learn that for many of us our familiarity with the words may have stripped them of some of their meaning. So I want you to close your eyes and really think about this summation Paul gives in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”

My inheritance of Lynch means I will probably get cancer at some point. My inheritance through Adam means death. But praise God, I have a new inheritance, as a co-heir with Christ I have eternal life!




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