Friday, February 2, 2018

The Power of God and Life Over Cancer

Dear Friends,

Lately, I’ve heard quite a few people talking about cancer, so this blog offers some brief, not necessarily connected, thoughts about cancer and the spirituality it takes to live through it, whether we are the victims, or the caregivers/friends of the person suffering. The topic is one we would prefer to ignore in favor of more apparently engaging topics. But plow ahead! Share these thoughts with someone in the throes of cancer or mull them over yourself.

Let God be your consciously chosen partner. As people who have been brought up in a religious tradition or at least with an awareness of our own spirituality, we look to God for consolation, serenity or inspiration in illness. We sometimes feel God’s presence, but not always. Sometimes cancer is so absorbing that we forget to turn to God – God who is with us at every moment – in our anger that we have been brought low and that our body has betrayed us. Maybe we’re full of denial, unreasonably ready to shut out anyone and anything that might help us face our misery and pain.

Laugh when you can. As I walked in for my first round of chemo for ovarian cancer in 1991, I tried to hold on to thoughts from the Scriptures: “If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8.31)…You are precious in my eyes and I love you (Isaiah 43.1).” As the first drop of chemo descended from the hanging bag into the tube on its way to my body, I closed my eyes and waited for a spiritual image to come. This is what I heard in my mind: “Hi Ho! Hi Ho! It’s off to work we go!” The song of the seven dwarfs became my own spiritual song that day. I laughed out loud. Spirituality allows us to laugh even in the midst of pain.

What Cancer Cannot Do. About that same time, someone gave me a short piece by the Maryknoll Father Del Goodman. It lists all the aspects of life that are stronger than cancer. You may have others to add.

   Cancer is limited –
It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot destroy peace,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot suppress memories,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot invade the soul,
  It cannot steal eternal life,
It cannot conquer the Spirit.

In short, God’s love for each of us is greater than the cancer that threatens our life. Pass the word on.

~Sister Joan Sobala