Saturday, March 22, 2008

March 22, 2008 - How Far We've Come

In his “My Cancer” blog entry from yesterday, Leroy Sievers compares his experience as a cancer survivor to his experience as a war correspondent, ducking bullets in some of the world’s worst trouble spots.

Cancer, he says, has been more difficult:

“Trying to cope with my cancer is the hardest thing I've ever done. Harder than any war. The toll on my body has been substantial, greater than any hardship I've endured.

And like those other major experiences, it has taught me things. I've learned more about who I am, more about strength and courage, more about life.

My career prepared me for that war, five years ago. I don't think anything can prepare you for cancer.”

Leroy’s got it right. Cancer is a stern and demanding teacher. Earning this diploma – which nobody in their right mind seeks – requires many of us to rise to ever more grueling challenges. With colon cancer that’s metastasized to his spine and lungs, Leroy’s had it harder than many. Yet, just about anyone who’s ever heard those words, “You have cancer,” can look back on the experience afterwards and marvel, “How far I’ve come!”

It’s one of those overused bumper-sticker sayings, to be sure, but it’s also true: “Whatever doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.” Those who have the audacity to believe in the resurrection can attach a little addendum to that saying: even the thing that one day kills us will do the same.


Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

Dear Pastor,
I like your postscript to Friedrich Nietzsche's statement, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

I'd like to add another: "But it may make you weaker and more vulnerable before it makes you stronger."

Throughout the months of my first round of treatment and then my first year of recovery, I was in great need of physical and emotional support. Side effects and aftereffects kept me from feeling normal in any way.

It took time and talking before I could use my heightened awareness of the uncertainty of life to help me embrace life, instead of fear it. It took time and talking before the lessons learned could be used in positive ways.

With hope, Wendy

Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

One more thought:
Your addendum helps explain the conflicting emotions that often accompany survivorship, such as unsettling fear of recurrence alongside joyous gratitude for today, or dispiriting loss of independence blended with the blessed gift of others' helping hands.
Thanks. Wendy

David J. Neff said...

Love the site and what you are doing for people with cancer. I was wondering if you could/wanted to post a video Blog about your experience? We have a new community I would love for you to check out and write about it if you want. It’s called SharingHope.TV and it’s a Online Community where people can share their cancer experience using Video, Photos, artwork and more. All of the content is User Generated Content.

It also let’s people take the video off the site and put it on their Facebook, MySpace, or Blogs.
You can check it out more on our press room.
Or I would love to speak with you about it in person.

Carl said...


Your remarks remind me of Hemingway's oft-quoted statement, which goes something like this: "The world breaks all of us. Afterwards, some of us grow strong at the broken places."

I'm learning, more and more, the truth of that statement.


Carl said...


I'd be interested in learning more about this. I'm not all that tech-savvy when it comes to video. I don't even own a video camera - all our pictures of our kids are still photos. I do have a friend and church member, though, who's into video production for advertising, and I imagine he'd be willing to do a very basic, talking-head filming for me.

I've found the part of the website where there's a button to upload videos. I'll think about doing this, once I recover from my recent surgery.