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Cancer is a Scary Word

Cancer is a scary word…a word that evokes dread.  It is a heavy word.  It’s like in the Lord of the Rings when those who spoke of the Dark Lord used his various names with caution and trepidation.  I hate even saying the word. It is a disease of uncontrolled division of abnormal cells. Sounds like our world…a world that rejects communion, love of enemy, and oneness. 

A world that sees health as primarily physical... 

It is scientifically official.  You are what you eat…and breath…and touch.

I recently watched a short documentary about a Babushka that has lived her entire life in the Siberian wilderness.  Her father took the family into seclusion when she was just a baby to escape communist persecution. She is now in her seventies, the last member her family still living.  The wise woman described communism as the great science…the soul crushing science. 

 The modern answer to disease is soul crushing.

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 

These are my thoughts as I pray for my Mema, recently diagnosed with a malignant Melanoma.  It is black and ulcerated and ugly. So many questions swirl around as we talk as a family about treatment plans and prognosis.  It’s like shooting a shotgun…hoping the spread pattern hits the target.  There are a thousand ways to treat cancer…like pellets in a shotgun.
My heart is with my mother…she is aiming the gun.

We say it is our environment, the water, the air, the soil.  We live in an environment that creates disease.  We are connected to it in a very real way, and no matter how much we try to separate from the toxins we cannot be assured completely…because we are a part of this world.  In a culture that denies the unseen, I find it difficult to identify with the scientific environmentalists.  Our world may be killing us, but it is our sin that makes the world toxic.
I am wondering about the soul and cancer and our world and how we are none exempt.  I am praying for the men and woman who are trained physicians, that care for the sick and suffering.  I am humbled.

I pray with Saint Panteleimon, a trained physician who healed in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

O Champion and Martyr of God,
imitating the Merciful and bearing from Him the grace of healing,
cure our spiritual ills by your prayers,
and set free from the temptation of the eternal enemy,those who ceaselessly cry out, “Save us, O Lord.”

Below is a homily that I read this morning at Orthodox Way of Life.  Very comforting for those facing a life threatening disease.


Homily by St.Nicholas Velimirovic

“Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). 

By His suffering our Lord eased our suffering. He endured the greatest of pain and emerged as the Victor. That is why He can encourage us in our lesser sufferings. He suffered and endured in righteousness while we suffer and endure in expiating our own sins. This is why He can doubly remind us to endure to the end as He, the Sinless One, endured. Not one of us has helped nor alleviated His pains and endurance, yet He stands along side each one of us when we suffer and alleviates our pains and misfortunes. That is why He has the right to tell each one who suffers for His Name’s sake: “Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer,” says Christ, for I alone have endured all suffering and am familiar with them. I was not frightened at not a single suffering. I received them upon Myself and, in the end, overcame them all. I did not overcome them by dismissing them or fleeing from them but receiving them all upon Myself voluntarily and enduring them all to the end. And so you also should accept voluntary suffering, for I see and know how much and for how long you can endure. 

If your suffering should continue to death itself and if it is the cause of your death, nevertheless, do not be afraid; “I will give you the crown of life.” I will crown you with immortal life in which I reign eternally with the Father and the Life-Giving Spirit. God did not send you to earth to live comfortably, rather to prepare for eternal life. It would be a great tragedy if your Creator were unable to give you a better, longer, and brighter life than that which is on earth which reeks of decay and death and is shorter than the life of a raven. 

O my brethren, let us listen to the words of the Lord and all of our sufferings will be alleviated. If the blows of the world seem as hard as stones, they will become as the foam of the sea when we obey the Lord. 

O Victorious Lord, teach us more about Your long-suffering; and when we become exhausted, extend Your hand and sustain us.


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