Friday, February 13, 2009

Into the valley: Despair with cancer diagnosis is unavoidable, but rescue still possible, inevitable

Descent into the valley of despair is unavoidable for most people who receive a cancer diagnosis and immediate treatment, including surgery.

The worst thing is for families to panic. Or for do-gooders to rush in and preach God, hope and prayer. It's ignorant and can do more harm than good.

When I was diagnosed with terminal leukemia, my descent into the abyss was immediate. And my time there was prolonged, as I lost my hair and strength. It was more aggravating to have someone think they could pull me out of it than to be in despair. Even despair is a point of stability.

But for all things there is a season. And the cancer victim will rally. I did. I cannot tell you what it is upon which the cancer sufferer will grasp and pull themselves up.

But something will tell them to appreciate the moment, to cherish the moment for the gift that it is from God. Perhaps another cancer victim will let them in on the secret, like my friend, Gene, from Lawrenceburg who is battling a difficult blood cancer.

At the encouragement of medical personnel, the insurance businessman has become a counselor of sorts to other victims. And when we talk, it's like a convention of evangelists. We can't stop from gushing about God and the goodness he has revealed to us in the valley. We draw strength from each other for the walk we are on.

Ultimately, cancer victims will quit resenting that their busy schedules and plans have been set aside. They will learn to laugh again. They will tell people they love them, many of who they never have said that to before -- but needed to. They will learn to appreciate the insight and instinct received from above.

The prayer of the cancer victim, once they emerge from the abyss, is not for a cure but to learn even more about appreciating the moment. The moment is enough. And the moment brings us closer to the Creator of it.

So don't panic if you are a family member. The descent into the valley is natural, even if troubling. The cancer sufferer must go into the valley to really appreciate rising back to the peak.

All things are in God's time and according to His marvelous wisdom.

And in his or her emergence, the cancer victim will find themselves attuned to that schedule and that knowledge -- not that of the misguided, selfish world.

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