Wednesday, March 30, 2011

God, Why Us? - by Joe

Many, if not all cancer patients at some point wrestle with the question, "Why me?" do cancer patient spouses/significant others.  Personally, I do not think there is an adequate answer to this, or the more general question "Why is there suffering?"  A more practical issue is how you handle the question when it surfaces inside.

In our case, we had just spent a small fortune remodeling our old house in order to pass inspection for fostering-to-adopt a child.  Then boom!  Cancer.  Adoption was no longer a possibility.  Along with that heartbreak came confusion: neither of us have family histories of cancer! So why, why, why?

As Christians, we aimed the question at God.  Were we agnostic/atheist it might have been railing at an unfair Universe.  Either way, ignoring it just makes depression worse. 

I think for both of us the question was a muddy mix of self-pity and sincerity.  Emotional and intellectual.  The answer has to be a personal one to move on, not some theology or scientific hypothesis. Amid the amazing theories well-meaning friends hurled our way (sinning, eating the wrong foods, stress, pollution, bad water, etc.) we have both achieved some sort of answer.  I see it as a mystery and an opportunity to choose solidarity and empathy with others' suffering.  On top of that, I think we both see cancer as just one of many realities from living in a 'fallen world' based on Jesus's teachings in the Gospels. 

The benefits of facing the question we've found are many: less depression, less feeling sorry for ourselves, less energy drained, less despair.  Not that the question doesn't still sit there.  But there is a healthy truce.

For anyone reading this that is newly diagnosed, I urge you to wrestle honestly with the question and don't pretend it's not there.  Keep wrestling until you find an answer you can live with.

As always, thank you so much for your amazing support!



  1. Good advice. With both of us having cancer, we have faced this issue square on and discuss freely our thoughts and concerns. This has actually caused us to grow closer in our love and gentleness towards one another. We are blessed.

  2. And maybe you two are angels, who chose this life long before you were born, to be a testament and voice for us all. Never doubt that you are gifts to so many people, even in the midst of your suffering.
    MY mother died of stage 4 breast cancer in 1970 when the treatments were comparatively horrific. As a 20 year old, I was too young to talk to her about this in a meaningful way. Everything you two have shared or written about your struggle, and your life-affirming trips of joy through the beautiful world you inhabit, helps me to further understand my mom, as well as love you who I know today.
    love and prayers to you.

  3. WhiteStone - I am so glad all this has brought you both closer. I have met a number of patients in the lobby here at SCCA where cancer destroyed their relationship.

  4. Carol: thank you for the very
    kind words and support!

  5. I have been passing this blog to the friend of ours wth throat cancer. As I have previously explained, he is an atheist but an open minded one. He has found yours and Heidi's blog very enlightening. His words were "at last normal thinking humans in touch with their emotions" This coming from a very straight talking down to earth lorry driver is praise indeed. Please, both of you keep this blog going.

  6. Joe, this is excellent. You and Heidi will always be two of my personal heroes. Someday, (God forbid!), if Darlene and I ever have to walk through something as challenging as what you two are going through, I will come back and re-read it, over and over, for courage.

    We have gazed upon our Savior and the Cross that He bore, and so we know that someday there will be an "other side" that we will all emerge out onto. In the brightness of that morning I am sure we will each look back upon these present troubles and thank God for His grace and mercy on us!

    We love you guys! Hang in there!

  7. I like your reminder to keep wrestling with this as well as all the other tough questions. It's the unasked, unmentionable that does us in. I do think, as your entry shows, that what we do with everything that happens to us is more important than why it happens. You are surely using your cancer for good in your support of others.

  8. You and Heidi are true inspirations!! Thanks for this blog which certainly applies to people with cancer -- and I think to anyone who has gotten a serious illness! Thanks. Martha

  9. I think all cancer patients have asked that question, even if they are not a believer. Why me? Why now? Why? My current post is Mercies in Disguise. There are blessings in the midst of trial... we can't always see them...we just need to trust they are there. Some day, everything will be revealed to us. Until then, cling to the cross!