When You Hear the C Word
I was 46 years old when I got the cancer diagnosis. While it had crossed my mind as a possibility, I didn’t really expect this phone call.
“We need you to come back into the office. We have your results.”
“Can you come this afternoon?”
You know that’s never good.
And while it wasn’t good—it was colon cancer after all—it was at least the best possible way to get it: early, small, and totally removed. They got it all, even before they realized it was cancerous. I never required any treatment.
The only hassle has been multiple colonoscopies between then and now and still to come.
But that’s okay.
Those things are minor.
There Is No Cure for Being Human
It wasn’t so minor for Kate Bowler.
Maybe you read her memoir in 2018, Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved. She’s since published a new book in 2021, No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear).
This latest book chronicles Kate’s journey with Stage IV colon cancer at age 35, in the midst of an America that preaches, “Harness your mind to change your circumstances. The salvation of health and wealth and happiness is only a decision away.”
“We find it especially difficult to talk about anything chronic—meaning any kind of pain, emotional or physical, that abides and lives with us constantly. The sustaining myth of the American Dream rests on a hearty can-do spirit surmounting all obstacles, but not all problems can be overcome.“
Kate chronicles her mindset as she hears she has two years left to live, and then as she decides to try an experimental treatment.
Her insights along the way prove useful for all to hear.
“But no matter how carefully we schedule our days, master our emotions, and try to wring our best life now from our better selves, we cannot solve the problem of finitude. We will always want more.”
And this conclusion: “There is no cure for being human.”
But There Is Relief
But the book isn’t fatalistic. Just realistic.
“Time itself will be wrapped up with a bow, and God will draw us all into the eternal moment where there will be no suffering, no disease, no email. In the meantime, we are stuck with our beautiful, terrible finitude.”
And in this beautiful, terrible finitude, we all continue living, loving, taking one day at a time.
Kate’s cancer treatment did make her tumor disappear.
My own cancer has not returned either.
I’m grateful. But I’m also aware that, if not colon cancer, I will still die from something, eventually. It’s only a matter of time.
And that’s okay. There’s no cure for being human.
The biggest dilemma I’ll ever face—death—is matched with the belief that the end of my time here will not be the end of me. As a believer in Jesus and grace and the afterlife, I expect death to be a transition to something even better.
Maybe there’s no cure for being human.
But there is eventual relief from its impermanence.
How do you keep your faith in hard times? Our featured post this week is from Jeanne Takenaka.
“When life’s storms toss our hearts and souls (and they will), our beliefs will impact how we live out faith.”
Jeanne has known her own hard times. She shares here her thoughts on how to keep trusting God when we’re in difficult seasons.
Read it all here, then link your own blog posts below.
How do you keep faith in hard times? Share your thoughts in the comments.
My thanks to NetGalley + Random House
for the review copy of this book
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