Tag Archives: cancer

Teen love, cancer and an unfinished sentence

I stepped way outside my normal pleasure reading comfort zone with “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. However, it was a good trip and one I recommend.

The book is narrated in the first person by Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16 year old girl with thyroid cancer who is being kept alive by a new miracle drug. Her parents think she is depressed and  force her to attend a support group with other young cancer patients. That is where she meets Augustus, a bone cancer patient/amputee in remission. Initially, she doesn’t want to get involved, but (as you can probably guess) the inevitable happens and they become a couple.

Hazel is also obsessed with a fictional book “An Imperial Affliction,” about a girl with cancer. “An Imperial Affliction” ends in mid-sentence with many plots unresolved, because, it is assumed, that Anna either dies or becomes too sick to write. Hazel is determined to track down the reclusive author to find out how the various fictional stories played out.

The story is a little bit of a romance story and a little tragedy. Green does a good job telling  a story about a depressing subject without the story being depressing itself.

I thought it was a little odd for a middle-aged man to be writing a first-person account through the eyes of a 16 year old girl. His writing seemed very believable, but then again, I’m a middle-aged guy so I don’t have any real reference to judge it.

It’s not all giggles and fun, but “The Fault in Our Stars” is an interesting read and well worth the effort.

Why blame God?

I had conversations with two women recently, who both expressed the same question in nearly the exact same words.

“What did I ever do to make God so mad that I deserve all this?”

Both women have had their share of tragedies and difficulties and are facing more now.

Julie lost her husband two years ago after a year-long fight with cancer. He was in his 60’s. Now, her 89-year old father just died, while, at the same time daughter delivered a pre-mature baby.

Sharon’s son (early 20s) was killed in a traffic accident three years ago. Now her husband has just been diagnosed with ALS.

My heart goes out to both of them. They both have taken and continue to take some hard hits. I would not want to trade places with either of them.

However, I cannot agree that they should be blaming God and themselves for their problems. A loving God does not punish someone by causing suffering to their loved ones. Sometimes things just happen. Diseases like cancer and ALS are tragic, as are fatal traffic accidents. However, they are not part of some sinister plot by God to inflict pain on the victim’s families.

It is a common religious belief, one to which I do not subscribe, that God has some sinister plan, and that everything that happens to a person is because of that plan. You frequently hear people say, “Everything happens for a reason.”

In the extreme, people see God meddling in the details of their life. This was a common theme among the ancient Greeks. The epics of Homer and the plays of Sophocles and Euripides were filled with the Greek Gods messing around and manipulating the mortals. To one degree or another, it remains a common theme among some religious groups today.

Some bad things that have known and tangible causes. A life-long smoker need not question the metaphysical source of his lung cancer, just as a drunk driver need not examine the reason behind his car becoming wrapped around a tree.

In other cases, like a brain tumor, a pre-mature birth or ALS, things happen without any reason, at least none we can fathom. Those breaks are not evenly or fairly distributed among us. Nothing guarantees that life is just. So there is no benefit to torturing yourself by asking what you did to deserve your fate. The answer may be “nothing” or “everything,” but your loving God doesn’t use your past actions to punish or reward you, at least not in this life. Sometimes stuff just happens. That’s life.