Saturday, October 06, 2012

October 6, 2012 – Thank God for Cancer?

When I saw a Huffington Post article by an Episcopal priest titled “Thank You, God, For Cancer,” of course I had to read it. I discovered something of a kindred spirt: a fellow pastor like myself, who’s also a cancer survivor — and who, like me, found the cancer experience to have been formative in some ways she never could have envisioned.

Catherine B. Dempesy, rector of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Buffalo writes, of her experience with breast cancer that began two years ago this month:

“Because of cancer I learned lessons I didn't know I needed to learn. Because of cancer I discovered a depth of love, faith and gratitude I never knew existed. Because of cancer, I learned that bad news is best handled when infused with the Good News. The Good News of Faith, the Good News of Love, the Good News of Gratitude.”

Not that her journey was easy:

“Cancer is not for sissies. Cancer is not fun. Cancer stinks. But through the grace of God and the power of prayer and the faith of a community, cancer made me a better priest, a better pastor, a better person.”

Mostly, the note she sounds, this side of the acute treatment phase of her disease, is that of gratitude.  Thank you, God, for having world-class treatment facilities close at hand. Thank you for doctors who know what they’re doing. Thank you for supportive family, community, church.

“Thank you” is the message I sound as well. Not “Thank you that I got it,” but “Thank you that the experience has been such a powerful — although stern — teacher for me.”

And, it still is.

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