My fight against cancer has taught, or re-taught, me several lessons.
First, science is vitally important. Without scientific advances achieved in the last fifty years, I would be dead today. Science has bought me precious additional years of life. More than ever, I am convinced that competitively juxtaposing science and religion in a win-lose contest is wrong. Truth and reality are singular, i.e., science and religion offer different views of the one reality but are ultimately, when rightly understood, compatible.
Second, receiving grace – whether through the professional skill of healthcare providers, the prayers of strangers, or the kindness and love of persons whose life had previously intersected with mine – is transformative. For one who is accustomed to giving rather than to receiving grace, this has been an important reminder that everyone needs grace, true grace is unsolicited and free, and that grace is ultimately a window through which divine light shines.
Third, life's richness and meaning is indissolubly linked to our relationships with other people. I have found that one of the most difficult aspects of hospitalization and then chemotherapy is lacking the energy to spend time with others. As I begin to regain strength and energy, I cherish my interactions with other people. A corollary of this lesson is that opportunities to touch other lives may occur not in the first moments of crisis, but in the longer, more arduous journey that lies on the other side of that crisis.
I look forward to learning more in the future.