Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Threat of Cancer-Living Fully In The Face Of Death

I was caught off-guard when a fellow employee said to me, “You seem to be a Godly man. Would you do me a favor? Please pray for me as the doctors tell me that I have Melanoma.” Being a barista is much like being a bar tender; customers tell me of their struggles. The topic of cancer comes up often. Everybody seems to either have it or know someone that does.

World wide new cases of cancer are increasing not decreasing according to a recent article in World Magazine. According to World, “The World Health Organization released new estimates in December marking the trend: In 2012, there were 14.1 million new cases of lung, breast, colorectal, cervical, and other cancers, up from 12.7 million just four years earlier. The annual number of deaths from cancer ticked up as well, to 8.2 million in 2012 from 7.6 million in 2008.” The article cites some significant possible reasons for the uptick; pollution, unhealthy Western lifestyles such a smoking, Human Papillomavirus and fallout from abortions which has links to cancer. For all of our scientific advancement we still have far to go to claim victory in this war.

I lost my sister-in-law last year to brain cancer. I’ve lost an uncle and a cousin to Leukemia-a blood cancer, an aunt to pancreatic cancer and two friends (Eric and Erik) to brain cancer and melanoma. Cancer is an equal opportunity attacker. Though it may not be the cause of death for all of us it may be the cause for many. It doesn’t wait for old age either but will attack in mid-life without an apology. True we could also choke on a piece of bacon while at breakfast in our own kitchen. Something will provoke our dying; how does that affect our living?

My wife and I spent last weekend in Cambria where we attended a wine pairing and tasting. My being raised Jewish and her Protestant ethic mean we can do ‘guilt’ well. So we wrestled with extra money on a nice weekend with many niceties included. What I kept coming back to is the whole issue of death.

Wisdom teaches us that money is a stewardship granted to us for God’s glory. We should save it and not squander it. We are also challenged by verses such as this, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” I keep coming back to Augustine’s encouragement to “Love God and do as you please.” For we know that death is the end of everyman but fully living means we need not regret it when it comes.

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