Is There a Cure for Being Human?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

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.”

“Okay, when?”

“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).

No Cure for Being Human

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.”

Kate writes,

“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.

Featured Post

How do you keep your faith in hard times? Our featured post this week is from Jeanne Takenaka.

Jeanne writes,

“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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24 thoughts on “Is There a Cure for Being Human?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, I need to find that interview! I just finished Philip Yancey’s memoir also and found it fascinating. These two authors together would be wonderful to hear. If I can’t find it, I’ll hit you up for it, Michele. 🙂

  1. Lynn

    I was thinking the other day that life is really one big experiment. We don’t absolutely know the results of many things we do. So I’d add, “Being human is one big experiment.” 🙂 Thankfully, we have faith in a sovereign God! My brother passed away from colon cancer even after going through something called ‘hot chemo.’ I’m glad the cancer was caught early for you! I am looking forward to the day they have a blood test in place of a colonoscopy!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Life (and being human) is “one big experiment” – you’re so right, Lynn. We live and learn as we go. I’m so sorry that you lost your brother to colon cancer! 🙁 That’s a hard loss. My daughters will have to begin getting colonoscopies at a younger age than normal, thanks to my diagnosis, but maybe they will have the blood tests for it sooner rather than later. I sure hope so for myself as well.

  2. Joanne Viola

    Lisa, I am so glad your cancer was detected early on. I am grateful for the strides the medical field has made. More grateful that we can trust our lives and futures to our Lord. Blessings!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Joanne. Yes to being grateful for both the medical help and for the Lord’s wisdom in guiding people to that knowledge! It’s amazing how far we have come in learning more about the body, yet we’ve still only touched the tip of the iceberg compared to how much there is to learn.

  3. Donna

    Lisa, praising the Lord your colon cancer was caught early! I had a similar experience about 10 years ago-but praise God my recent scans and colonoscopy were clean and in fact better than they ever were. Kate Bowler’s book looks fabulius, will definitely get it in my reading queue!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It’s been about 12 years ago for me, and so far, so good since then. I still never look forward to the next colonoscopy, but at least I’m kinda used to them now. ha. I’m glad your experience has proven positive results each time too! I just subscribed to Kate Bowler’s podcast (thanks to the tip from Michele!). She’s definitely wise for her age.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re welcome, Barb. I love sharing about good books, and Kate’s was definitely a good one. I need to see if my library has her previous book so I can read it.

  4. Jennifer Smith

    Praise the Lord for your continued good health. I needed this reminder today. I received one of those types of phones calls, as well, in my early 40s. Which seems so long ago now…but I don’t want to forget what God has done and all that He taught during my months of cancer, etc. I want to keep life in the same perspective. We are always just a phone call away from something in life – but God is in it all and I am ever so grateful!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m sorry that you’ve had cancer in your background, Jennifer. I’m glad you’re okay now. I almost hesitate to mention mine because I didn’t have to suffer anything with it, and other people have suffered SO much and many died from it. We all benefit from reminders of our frailty and our dependence on God to get us through whatever comes next. I’m grateful too for his presence in it all!

  5. Tammy Kennington

    Hi Lisa,
    I’m so grateful that the cancer in your body was detected early in its development. My husband has had multiple types of skin cancer develop and, fortunately, none of them have required treatment. However, being faced with the reality of his humanness hits me hard every time.

    Hard times will come and sometimes they seem to settle in long-term. Because I’ve seen God do the miraculous and move in the mundane, I’m getting better at trusting Him.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Tammy. I keep a close relationship with my dermatologist for potential skin cancers as well; my father had several rounds with it, but like your husband, he was fortunate that none of them ever required treatment. He did eventually pass away from lung cancer though, so cancer is a word that circles around our family. Learning to trust God through it all, the good and the bad, is a lifelong lesson!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Jerralea. I’m very grateful that they caught the cancer so early; I probably wouldn’t be here at all if they had not. Yes, recalling God’s presence in our previous struggles is always helpful for our current and next ones!

  6. Linda Stoll

    Dear Lisa, I didn’t know of your cancer story … I was touched by your gentle candor this morning.

    I find Kate to be a fascinating woman … my library copy should be coming in the next week or so. Her most recent podcasts have been terrific.

    You’re a fascinating woman, too!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re too kind, Linda. I don’t put myself into the “fascinating woman” category, but I am grateful to know fascinating people, including you. Won’t heaven be beautiful when we can all gather together and meet in person! I just subscribed to Kate’s podcast so I look forward to hearing more from her.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      God bless you and your friend as you walk with her through this cancer journey, Amy. Praise God she’s in remission now! My friend’s daughter just got her yearly “all clear” report after a bad journey with breast cancer three years ago. Every year it’s still a nervous time awaiting that report.

  7. Nancy Ruegg

    Praise God, Lisa, your cancer was treatable and all has been well ever since (well, except for the colonoscopies!)! Thank you for sharing from the wisdom of Kate Bowler. I’ll have to check out her website. As for this topic of facing the inevitability of death, I take comfort in the fact that God will be with me as I walk through death’s door. We are never alone; he never forsakes his own. I don’t know how people cope without that assurance!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, that assurance of never being alone is a huge comfort to me, too, Nancy. The presence of God (even when I don’t “feel” him, per se) has gotten me through a lot of trying times. And yes, I find comfort too in knowing he’ll walk through death’s door with me. Thank you for your comment!

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