Best Cancer Counsel Ever!

I hesitate to post this because I know just about everyone on the planet knows of a sure cure for cancer from eating tree bark, to drinking some kind of reconstituted seed, to visiting clinics in foreign countries. Every time I mention that someone I know is dealing with cancer I get a pile of referrals, all guaranteed to work with anecdotal evidence to back it up. Cancer patients tell me it is one of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with well-intentioned people while you’re also trying to deal with the disease and treatment. People who are desperate are sitting ducks for every expensive procedure and false hope to cure the disease. So I am going to ask that no one fill the ‘comments’ section with more of those cures, and if they do then for those who are dealing with cancer, feel free to ignore them. Please. On both counts!

But I have to share this email exchange with you. Dave Coleman, a close friend of mine who was my partner on the SO YOU DON’T WANT TO GO TO CHURCH ANYMORE project, received a letter from a young couple who are facing a crisis. The sought out Dave for help and, as you will see, could not have approached a better person:

My wife of 23 years was diagnosed with colon cancer. She is recovering from surgery and we are waiting to start the chemo/radiation adventure (mid December). When my wife was in the hospital I had several panic attacks and became so worried about the situation that I almost ended up in the emergency room myself. It seem after years of being a Christian, I am totally unequipped to face the emotional trials and feelings that come with pain, suffering and mortality issues. I guess that I’m just afraid. Afraid for my wife, afraid for my children afraid for me. I am trying to pray and meditate on scripture and it works at times, but I do have an hunger for peace in Christ.

Here is Dave’s reply in its totality. In my estimation you will not read better counsel to deal with any devastating calamity in this age, whether it be cancer, loss of a job or something else. Dave not only acted as a hospice chaplain for over 10 years, but as you’ll see has engaged this same kind of cancer, albeit at a more advanced stage in his own life:

I don’t know if Wayne told you or not, but next month (Jan. ’08) I will officially become a Cancer Survivor. In 2003 they found a large Colorectal tumor which was advanced Stage IV. They wouldn’t even operate on me here, but fortunately there were two doctors in the country who would attempt it—one on the East Coast and one at USC. I went thru all the hoops with severe complications requiring an additional 5 surgeries, etc. Won’t bore you with the details and my only reason for mentioning it is to say that colon cancer is not the end of the world—though a battle, to be sure. I want to encourage your wife and yourself, and perhaps share a positive thought or two.

The main thing of course is prayer. Just accept the illness and offer yourself to God, for He alone is the One who does all things well. Go through all the chemo/radiation, etc. but relax with it. Get to know people, share with them. I had some great times in the chemo room, and met some fantastic folks along the way.

An illness such as this is a tremendous opportunity to grow in the Lord. Sometimes though, we panic, and believe the statistics, etc. which has a way causing a certain amount of futility. “What’s the use?” we think. In my ten years as a Hospice Chaplain, the one thing I noticed about all of the patients was that they had given up. The attitude of a cancer patient and family must simply be, “Let’s see what God has for us in all of this.” I am not talking about whistling in the dark. I am talking about spiritual reality. As Jesus said, “God knows all these things that you have need for.” He knows what is going on and He loves us so deeply. He wants us to know that and that is the key. He is not out to, get us.

Sometimes, though, we have a tendency to panic. Why? If we really understand ourselves deeply, the bottom line in all of our personalities is our deep-seated desire to be in control. This to me is the basic meaning of what the Bible calls sin. We want to have everything run smoothly in order to look good, and when it doesn’t, we feel threatened and when we are threatened we get scared (afraid) and that moves us into anger, which causes panic, anxiety and/or depression, etc. The opposite of love is control (fear). There is no fear in love, because perfect love cast out fear, writes the apostle. God is constantly at work conforming us to His image (the outward expression of an invisible reality). So that like Jesus told the disciples, “He who has seen me, has seen the Father.” So often rather then to accept what God is doing, we have been taught the ‘principles’ of how to get from God whatever you want. And we forget that if God is love. He doesn’t control us and we, in turn, cannot control Him. He is there to see us through, and bring us into a deeper awareness of who He really is, and not what we want Him to be, which of course is far better. Allow your wife’s illness to bring you closer together in your family and of course closer to Father. You have been and will continue to be in our prayers on your behalf. Again, there is no need for fear, for the many reasons all ready mentioned, and also because being uptight (stress) just knocks out our immune system and destroys the healing qualities of our body.

I remember about 6 days after my major surgery, the Dr. said that I was not healing as fast as he would like. Why? I asked, “Well, he said, the immune system is trying to deal with all of the pain medication that you are receiving, so that your healing is slowed down to a crawl.” Pull the needle out, I said, and in a few days, I was on my way home. Painful? You bet, but necessary for healing. There is an old Gaelic blessing that goes, “May you have the commitment to heal what has hurt you, to allow it to come close to you and in the end, to become one with you.” Don’t run away from this. It will be the biggest blessing in your lives.”

In His Peace, Dave and Donna

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26 Comments
  1. todd December 14, 2007 at 10:48 am

    God bless this article! I so appreciate Dave’s input to this couple….I know from other experience with other issues regarding health, getting bombarded (by well intentioned friends) with every faddish and holistic alternative to regular medicine can quite frankly become a pain in the rear, physically draining, and great for increasing stress.

    peace and love to all,

    Todd

  2. stacy December 14, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    “And we forget that if God is love. He doesn’t control us and we, in turn, cannot control Him.”

    STOP the presses! god doesn’t control us? you know that flies in the face of the bumper sticker theology (which is precisely the kind we believe in!) which states that: “GOD IS IN CONTROL.” which i always took to mean “give it up kid, god’s the one in charge, all evidence to the contrary.”

    i thought the point of religion was for me to give up control so god could be in control. now dave is telling me god doesn’t control us, and i’m assuming he also means to say that god doesn’t WANT to be in control of us?

    what is this world coming to?

  3. Hanan Merrill December 14, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Boy, it’s interesting to be reminded of all the various realities that it’s beneficial and crucial to simply trust that God’s bigger than anything we might experience. It’s easy to “trust” when the realities don’t threaten to impact us too much, but when the potential for negative impact on our lives is increased, the idea of trusting seems to challenge us more.

  4. todd December 14, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    God bless this article! I so appreciate Dave’s input to this couple….I know from other experience with other issues regarding health, getting bombarded (by well intentioned friends) with every faddish and holistic alternative to regular medicine can quite frankly become a pain in the rear, physically draining, and great for increasing stress.

    peace and love to all,

    Todd

  5. stacy December 14, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    “And we forget that if God is love. He doesn’t control us and we, in turn, cannot control Him.”

    STOP the presses! god doesn’t control us? you know that flies in the face of the bumper sticker theology (which is precisely the kind we believe in!) which states that: “GOD IS IN CONTROL.” which i always took to mean “give it up kid, god’s the one in charge, all evidence to the contrary.”

    i thought the point of religion was for me to give up control so god could be in control. now dave is telling me god doesn’t control us, and i’m assuming he also means to say that god doesn’t WANT to be in control of us?

    what is this world coming to?

  6. Hanan Merrill December 14, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Boy, it’s interesting to be reminded of all the various realities that it’s beneficial and crucial to simply trust that God’s bigger than anything we might experience. It’s easy to “trust” when the realities don’t threaten to impact us too much, but when the potential for negative impact on our lives is increased, the idea of trusting seems to challenge us more.

  7. Melbourne Sue December 14, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Wow, wise man. I loved this: “Sometimes though, we panic, and believe the statistics, etc. which has a way causing a certain amount of futility.”

    I’m not interested in statistics anymore. What are they but graspings for those who don’t believe in star signs anymore 😉 As if our lives are exactly the same. Talk about draining all the life out of life.

    Whereas your mate Dave, this letter was a very succinct description of the life lived when not grasping it by its neck and draining all the air out of it. Thanks for posting.

  8. Melbourne Sue December 14, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Wow, wise man. I loved this: “Sometimes though, we panic, and believe the statistics, etc. which has a way causing a certain amount of futility.”

    I’m not interested in statistics anymore. What are they but graspings for those who don’t believe in star signs anymore 😉 As if our lives are exactly the same. Talk about draining all the life out of life.

    Whereas your mate Dave, this letter was a very succinct description of the life lived when not grasping it by its neck and draining all the air out of it. Thanks for posting.

  9. Helen Utley December 15, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Thank you Wayne for sharing such encouragement. This decade so far has been an almost constant time of dealing with cancer in my family; the loss of my mother and eldest sister to it, and currently waiting to hear if surgery has cleared my brother of cancer. I have to say that Father has been building my trust greatly and this time I am only having tiny panics quickly followed by peace returning. Reading Dave’s reply was like looking at a reflection of where I am now, compared with how I was when my Mum and sister were ill.

    Again, thanks for the wonderful encouragement – so timely.

  10. Helen Utley December 15, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    Thank you Wayne for sharing such encouragement. This decade so far has been an almost constant time of dealing with cancer in my family; the loss of my mother and eldest sister to it, and currently waiting to hear if surgery has cleared my brother of cancer. I have to say that Father has been building my trust greatly and this time I am only having tiny panics quickly followed by peace returning. Reading Dave’s reply was like looking at a reflection of where I am now, compared with how I was when my Mum and sister were ill.

    Again, thanks for the wonderful encouragement – so timely.

  11. Loren December 17, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks! You had me chewing on this and talking to Father about it all weekend. Control = fear and there is no fear in love. Wow! That’s good stuff.

  12. Loren December 17, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Thanks! You had me chewing on this and talking to Father about it all weekend. Control = fear and there is no fear in love. Wow! That’s good stuff.

  13. Paul December 30, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Wayne,

    Thank you for posting this!

    It is something that I can really identify with!

    I am a colon cancer survior. I went through chemo and radiation, two major surgeries, a divorce after 29 years (not by choice) and the Lord brought me through it all and Hill Country Thoughts was birthed from it. A Coffee Cup Ministry – A ministry of hanging out – Market place ministry 🙂

    Again thanks for posting and I am a long time listner to The God Journey and plan to get the book soon!

    I enjoyed the last program with your wife and you!

    Blessings,

    Paul

  14. Paul December 30, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    Hi Wayne,

    Thank you for posting this!

    It is something that I can really identify with!

    I am a colon cancer survior. I went through chemo and radiation, two major surgeries, a divorce after 29 years (not by choice) and the Lord brought me through it all and Hill Country Thoughts was birthed from it. A Coffee Cup Ministry – A ministry of hanging out – Market place ministry 🙂

    Again thanks for posting and I am a long time listner to The God Journey and plan to get the book soon!

    I enjoyed the last program with your wife and you!

    Blessings,

    Paul

  15. Reiki May 18, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    I think that this articel reminds us that there are still many valid and differing opinions on the treatment of cancer. I think that with the rampid nature of the disease, there is not many people lef tin this country who have not been affected by cancer in some way (loved ones, friends, yourself). Reading statistics can be daunting and not specific to a patient’s case in any way. Yes, I agree that the stress caused by this can have a detrimental effect on that person’s health.

  16. Reiki May 18, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    I think that this articel reminds us that there are still many valid and differing opinions on the treatment of cancer. I think that with the rampid nature of the disease, there is not many people lef tin this country who have not been affected by cancer in some way (loved ones, friends, yourself). Reading statistics can be daunting and not specific to a patient’s case in any way. Yes, I agree that the stress caused by this can have a detrimental effect on that person’s health.

  17. Gab May 28, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Some times we just need to remember of the power of faith and of a “higher energy”. Cancer is not only serious, but it can be a very hard emotional path to take. That’s when love and faith become weapons to fight death and depression. Thanks for sharing with us this post.

  18. Gab May 28, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Some times we just need to remember of the power of faith and of a “higher energy”. Cancer is not only serious, but it can be a very hard emotional path to take. That’s when love and faith become weapons to fight death and depression. Thanks for sharing with us this post.

  19. backgammon August 27, 2008 at 4:04 am

    A person can ruin his/her life if he doesn’t know how to control the anger. Infact i would say anger is an emotion which could be utilized in positive way. This energy should be used to eradicate the bad elements, corruption or the bad habits of the society in the best possible way 🙂

  20. backgammon August 27, 2008 at 7:04 am

    A person can ruin his/her life if he doesn’t know how to control the anger. Infact i would say anger is an emotion which could be utilized in positive way. This energy should be used to eradicate the bad elements, corruption or the bad habits of the society in the best possible way 🙂

  21. Bill September 20, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Cancer is very difficult not just on the patient, but the whole family. During the last days my grandmother was alive, she would look at me and call me her brother-in-law’s name. It was so sad. 🙁 I give credit to my mother and aunt, who took very good care of her before she slipped away.

  22. Bill September 21, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Cancer is very difficult not just on the patient, but the whole family. During the last days my grandmother was alive, she would look at me and call me her brother-in-law’s name. It was so sad. 🙁 I give credit to my mother and aunt, who took very good care of her before she slipped away.

  23. Cancer Survivor October 4, 2008 at 8:14 am

    I had was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last year and had to have a double mastectomy. This was a great challenge for me but my family and I got through it. I have such empathy for any person that has Cancer and for there family. Great article I enjoyed it !

    Janie Scwarts

  24. Cancer Survivor October 4, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I had was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last year and had to have a double mastectomy. This was a great challenge for me but my family and I got through it. I have such empathy for any person that has Cancer and for there family. Great article I enjoyed it !

    Janie Scwarts

  25. John Mayer October 27, 2008 at 7:18 am

    When ever the word cancer comes to mind, I am feeling restless and tense. I don’t know why but cancer is the disease which has caused death of some near ones and thats why this has an impact on my mind.

  26. John Mayer October 27, 2008 at 10:18 am

    When ever the word cancer comes to mind, I am feeling restless and tense. I don’t know why but cancer is the disease which has caused death of some near ones and thats why this has an impact on my mind.

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