I heard some tough news this past weekend. A family J. and I care about is dealing with a second cancer diagnosis, too soon after the first one. One member was successfully treated a few years ago, but recently another was diagnosed, forcing this family back on the cancer roller coaster. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: life is unfair.
These are good folks, loving, kind and decent, and they don’t deserve this turn of events. No one does. They haven’t done anything to bring illness on themselves.
No God I know would make anyone suffer like this. You say: “God only gives people what they can handle.” I say: “Balderdash.” God couldn’t be that mean and uncaring. Had anyone ever told me anything so inane following my cancer diagnosis, I know my response wouldn’t have been pretty. Thankfully, for their sake, no one has.
I’m not alone in my beliefs about destiny and God’s will; I have the backing of the wise rabbi, Harold Kushner, author of When bad things happen to good people. Kushner’s son was diagnosed with a degenerative illness at age 3 that resulted in his death at 14. This man knows of what he speaks. Despite devoting himself to serving God, he had the unspeakable befall him and his family.
Although Kushner writes about his faith and references the Bible and teachings of Jewish scholars, his book is not overly religious and accessible even to people like me. He is compassionate and supportive and I have taken great comfort from his writing. Kushner stresses that God is not punitive or vengeful, he does not make bad things happen, but that He is there to help people through challenging times. Believer or not, I can buy that.
Is it fair that this family should have to deal with cancer again so soon? That they should have to hang out with other cancer patients at the same Cancer Centre that they thought they were rid of? Absolutely not. No one would embark on this journey voluntarily, and I certainly wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Cancer isn’t fun at the best of times, but two bouts within one family…I don’t know how to finish this sentence.
Thank goodness this is a strong, close family with a solid support network. This is what I wish them: I wish them permission to accept however they’re feeling, whether it’s anger or sadness or fear or, I can only hope, joy amidst the pain. And I hope they will seek out the support they need from others, whatever that looks like to them, knowing it will change over time.
These friends will muddle through their upheaval as best they’re able. They are experienced cancer survivors so they know the drill. I wish they didn’t have to but they don’t have a choice. Nothing I can possibly say will diminish their pain. I think they know I’m not afraid to talk about the tough stuff if that would help. In fact, tough stuff is my specialty. Alternatively, Jelly is always available for comfort, and she is an excellent cuddler.