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Showing posts from October, 2016

The importance of hope

The cancer with which I live is a chronic, fatal disease, i.e., there is no known cure. To my surprise, I recently saw an article in the popular press that a reported a case in which a woman appears to have been completely cured of multiple myeloma. I've not seen similar reports nor have I seen any scientific evidence that supports the possibility of a complete cure. Is the woman's alleged cure a fluke, a case of remission masquerading as a complete cure in a way that her healthcare providers do not provide, or an actual cure? I don't know. What I do know is that the article added a small amount of light at the end of the dark tunnel (the valley of death?) through which I am currently journeying. As a long-time supporter of the right to die and of assisted living, I have given considerable thought to what happens when life becomes devoid of hope. That, I'm discovering, is not the same thing as valuing hope for the ways in which it strengthens and enriches. In the curr…

Virtual community

An ongoing conversation among many religious bloggers and internet writers about religion is the possibility of virtual community. The number of responses, in various forms ranging from likes to comments, I received following my Ethical Musings' post about having cancer both surprised and encouraged me. The responses were all positive; a majority promised prayers, though none – thankfully – responded with meaningless platitudes about God's healing power. A substantial number of times, the response came from someone with whom I had once worked, whether as his or her boss, his or her priest or chaplain, or his or her colleague or friend. The internet does not have to be a bad, mean, or scary place. Juxtaposing virtual with physical community seems to me to create a false dichotomy. Physical community – actual human contact – is essential. Virtual community can enrich, expand, and extend physical community but is never a substitute for the foundational experiences of actual phys…

The future of Ethical Musings

As Ethical Musings' followers and subscribers probably know, I have not posted an Ethical Musing since the beginning of September. And from the middle of July, my posts on Ethical Musings consisted of sermons and two articles written for the Episcopal CafĂ©. The paucity and nature of my Ethical Musings' posts point to physical problems that I began to experience in the spring and that culminated in a diagnosis of multiple myeloma in September. Multiple myeloma is a relatively rare form of cancer that attacks the blood and for which no cure exists. Chemotherapy can usually achieve a relatively positive short- and mid-term outlook (6 years or more of enjoying a reasonable quality of life), but multiple myeloma is fatal. Multiple myeloma is difficult to diagnose. In my case, pain caused by a collapsed vertebra and cracked ribs, along with several other symptoms (hypercalcemia, poor kidney functioning, and anemia), ultimately pointed to the correct diagnosis after some missteps. A…