Friday, February 28, 2014


A friend of mine referred to me last week as a cancer survivor. She meant it in the most positive of ways, but the term niggled at me for several days.

I don't think of myself as a survivor. 

I still take chemotherapy twice a day. Every day. I bear the cross of multiple side effects, one of which has changed my life quite dramatically. That doesn't feel like survivorship to me. 

I think of survivors as FREE of all of that. Remission. Total healing. Done with it.

If I am not a survivor, what am I? What IS my relationship to cancer? 

It is not a love relationship, a respect relationship or a casual relationship. From my psychology classes back in the day, I can tell you that cancer is not an experimental, transitional or scripted relationship in my life. I am not even sure if I can consider it a hate relationship, as I would be living in gut-roiling anxiety every hour of every day. Certainly I vigorously dislike that I am a cancer patient. But hate is a toxic emotion. I don't live like that.

I don't even think the WORD cancer is easy to define for myself. The word itself I suppose is a foe because in one sense the great enemy of this world, the devil, is the author of cancer. Jesus made it quite clear in John 10:10 that anything which kills, steals and destroys is of satan (you might have guessed by now that I never capitalize his name). 

Generally, you fight a foe. But that requires daily "battle."

I am not in battle with cancer. And I can't stand the new cliche' that everyone "battles" cancer. Every obituary and newspaper story about death from cancer or having cancer has to include the line that the person BATTLED it. As if people who die from heart disease or Parkinson's or stroke have not fought their disease. It is so hopelessly overused. OK. But, as usual, I digress.

So, no, I don't define it as a foe. 

The word cancer lies like a sticky odious substance on the floor of my mind. It is at once still foreign to my sensibilites and strangely familiar as if the fabric of the word drapes my very essence. On the cusp of my awareness at all times, I have a hard time forgetting I have it. I do not read anything about that word or go to any events where that word is spoken.

So in the end, I am really not sure about the relationship I have with this disease. I suppose it is an unwelcome seat-mate that has been placed beside me on the airplane of life. It shares my small space, but it makes me annoyed. It has BO and bad breath and talks way too much. I can't shut it off. I want to change seats.

I am not in battle.
I am not a survivor.
I am not a victim.
I am not a hater.

I simply walk each day with this unwelcome companion. Just like my short left leg, my myopic eyes and my bad back, it is something I am living with.

For the moment.

For as much as I can wax on about this repugnant and unwelcome fact of my life, I can say that my faith is every bit as powerful in assurance that God will redeem what satan is trying to destroy in my body. I hang on His promises for healing. I look around the plane for an empty seat that will one day be mine alone. In first class.


Cole said...

What a great visualization! I agree, you're not a patient nor are you a survivor. You are a beautiful daughter of our Lord and I'm still standing on that Solid Rock and holding to His promises as I pray for you daily. He will deliver in His time and I can't wait to hear about you moving up to first class!

Anonymous said...

YOU STAY STRONG, my firend! That seat is waiting for you. Lord, give us faith to believe and the patience to wait ON YOU! The Author and Finisher of our faith! I will continue to be one of your Aaron and Hurs! Ju

Rachel J said...

"I look around the plane for an empty seat in what will one day be mine. First class."


I've been thinking a lot about illness and faith for healing lately, and especially as it relates to you.