Compared to eternity, even living to be a century old is nothing. I had truly self-sacrificing full of wonder nuns who taught me through eighth grade. In fifth grade, one of these special ladies, Sister Mary Margaret, told us to imagine a dove that flew by the earth once every thousand years and one of its wingtips grazed the earth. When that dove has worn the earth down to nothing, she said, eternity is just beginning. I do not remember if she was impressing us with the extent of all the happiness we would have or if she was directing her thoughts to some of us male urchins who were blest to be disciplined by her.
Diagnosed with Cancer
When my wife, Karen, was diagnosed with cancer the second time [first time: colon; second time: skin and breast], I thought about eternity. The reason I did, as we walked out of one of the best, if not the best cancer hospital in the world into the Texas sunshine, past row upon row of gray living corpses in blankets, many drinking a Coke, waiting for the next treatment, was that I thought her eternity was much closer.
We were told about a woman in her condition who did not pursue medical advice who was dead in six months. The doctors told Karen she must check in “tomorrow” for a regimen of chemo and radiation (to shrink the largest tumor for surgery), surgery, and then again chemo and radiation. I was surprised at her reaction, actually a non-reaction. I thought she was in shock, but when we exited the building, she looked at me and said, firmly and calmly, “I will never set foot in that place ever again.” My immediate thoughts were that I know this woman, I know her iron will, and I know she is not lying. And then I thought of her eternity. I thought she would die. Implicitly I discounted her faith in God. For her, I believed, that dove had worn down the whole earth.
I asked her what she was going to do. She told me she did not know, but she knew that what she had gone through before was not the right way and that she would never do that again. She said she would pray. At this point, she knew nothing about natural medicine, God’s medicine, and she was resigned to whatever was going to happen. I was not. Prayer? Prayer for a cancer cure? Give me a break. The reason they market cancer treatments with five-year survival rates is that they know that many ten year rates are infinitesimal.
By accident, a few days later, she got some information on “non-modern” cancer treatments – and she was on her way to learn about detoxing, system boosting, no-sugar-no-carbs-no-processed-food diet, essential oils (yes, frankincense etc.), chemical-free environments, Rife technology, and pure water to bathe in and to drink. She began learning about this beautiful body God gives us along with everything we need, nonprescription, to keep it gloriously healthy.
Beating Cancer Naturally
Long story short: that was over fifteen years ago now. Not eternity, but a heck of a lot longer than six months. It took some years, but the skin cancers were gone, the large mass in her right breast was gone, and the identified-as-malignant tumor in her left breast was shrunk dramatically (on screen it had looked to me like an evil octopus covering her right side and going into her lymph system) and it was on its way out, being out processed naturally. She is still here today to tell me not to wear socks with sandals.
This was not easy for her. Some of the natural detoxing were not pain-free. After a few years, I asked her one time was she doing this to be here with her children, to be there the night of our granddaughter’s prom, to celebrate Christmas, and weddings and baptisms. She got this funny look on her face, she laughed out loud, and said, “No, I am doing this because I love you.” I think by her tone there was an implied “you dummy!” in there. To say I was stunned does not capture what this did to me. This woman who had borne our seven children (two now with God), who had loved me with a love that cannot be reckoned, who had endured the endless calls and letters from the hospital and the obloquy and condescension of family and friends for pursuing what they saw as quackery, had just said “I love you” in a way beyond imagining.
She was and is God’s gift to me, as was her cancer. This gift bore not only physical fruit but spiritual fruit as well. I had not got “on board” with all she was doing, periodically going out alone for “whatasized” burgers with fries or two breakfast burritos and two huge sugar-coated cinnamon rolls. Eating Velveeta. Consuming far more than the national average of carbonated beverages. So, after that “I Love You” message, I tried to clean up my act, and in trying I learned what she had gone through. Sugar is more addictive than many hard drugs – and I learned this in spades; and it is in almost everything I had enjoyed (just check out the labels of most of what is on the shelves in the grocery store, and don’t miss “corn syrup” and any word ending in “ose.”). For her now, I tried to live the diet and I began detoxing. One day in detox it hurt so bad I could not believe it – and it was a kind of pain I had never felt. I realized she had done all this and more for me – I didn’t even have cancer. I am now in my seventieth year. Neither she nor I have seen a medical doctor in over fifteen years, since that day she walked out of the hospital, nor have we in that time taken any prescription drugs. Since that time fifteen years ago, both of us have lost about forty pounds. I had it to lose. I have said several almost tearful farewells: goodbye bread, goodbye ketchup, goodbye doughnuts, and goodbye pasta.
Cancer is Evil
In the beginning, I thought right away in terms of myself. God was going to take her away from me. I was right there at the theodicy/cancer intersect – the theological “problem of evil” gets real real when the evil is cancer, not yours, not one you can suffer with, but the “cancer evil” of the one you love. But Karen did not do this in anger at God or in helplessness. She did it in faith and hope and trust. I tagged along in her faith journey, continually amazed at her, what appeared to me, complacency. Then there were her prayers.
The effects on our prayer life and our relationship with God, God who gifts us with cancer, have been profound. They say there are no atheists in foxholes and, similarly, I cannot fathom a cancer patient not talking with God. In the face of cancer, something over which we usually think there is no control, no avenue except so-called “modern medicine,” in helplessness one naturally turns to God. Cancer is not a morning coffee break, or a nine to five job, or a two-week vacation. Not only is it omnipresent, but I thought about it all the time. Which also made me talk to, at, and with God so much more. As it turned out, in these talks/prayers, I started discussing so many other folks, so many other things. Karen’s cancer taught me how to pray.
This may not make sense, but because of Karen’s pain and suffering, the Holy Sacrifice Of The Mass became so much more spiritually meaningful and eternity-directed. First of all, we began to go more than just on Sunday. Now we try, with some success, to go every day. So many words of the Mass take on a whole new, fuller meaning when you or someone you love there with you has been given the gift of cancer: e.g., “in You, we live and move and have our being;” “this is my body which will be given up for you;” “Father, calling to mind the death your Son endured;” “I leave you peace, My peace I give to you;” and of course “deliver us from evil.”
Tell No One?
I am reminded of the folks cured by Jesus whom He admonishes to “tell no one;” then they go out and broadcast their good news to the world. God help you if you ask Karen about what she did, why she did it, or “why do you use that stevia stuff instead of real sugar?” Just a little bit, I can talk this talk; but Karen has walked the walk and she knows, in her very core, in her soul she knows that God’s medicine is God’s love; that He did not make our bodies with a “tamoxifen deficiency” [a cancer treatment drug the World Health Organization classifies as a “human carcinogen];” and that this body God gave us can be detoxed, strengthened, nourished, and rejuvenated to fight any disease, including cancer. When people ask her questions, she says “Do you really want to know?” because what she has to say about what she did and has done are, for many, some “very hard sayings.” Still, she shares whenever she can. I have seen her again and again, wherever we are, talk to someone l she has never met for the better part of an hour. I know she has been God’s messenger, His “cancer evangelist,” for several people who are healthy today. Often she begins with “Do you believe in God?”
The Gift of Cancer
Right now I can write a plethora of comments which will be posted about all this, pooh-poohing natural medicine, real medicine; asserting that the only “god” who might help is “modern” medicine; and surmising that Karen “just had great genes,” or “God smiled on her.” To this, I would say check it out, do some research, talk to those who have done what Karen has done, and, unfortunately, follow the money.
The gift of cancer has made me love my wife more and more. It has also let me know God. Please allow me to conclude with a verse of a poem inspired by Karen.
from Friends One Flesh
“I’ll be that someone who tells you forever,
That someone who sees you’re never alone.
That someone who says here now together,
That someone who says you’re at home.”
(Catholic Lane; Sept. 8, 2015; Copyright Guy McClung; reprinted with permission)
Guy McClung, the author, was formerly an associate vice president at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.