The Relay for Life is only two weeks away. As the first weekend of May grows closer, I have been thinking about cancer. I am mindful of those persons I have added to my list of cancer survivors and those I have lost to the disease.
It has always been an activity that I find meaningful — remembering those persons who have influenced my life. The growing list of persons I have known, whose lives have been affected by different forms of cancer, is a reminder of how many persons have battled cancer. It is hard to find anyone who does not have a family member, friend or neighbor who has had cancer, if not a survivor oneself.
I am reminded that we can face a horrible disease such as cancer in two ways.
We could react with fear. There are some forms of cancer that are resistant to treatment, and we picture a slow and agonizing death. So we would rather not visit loved ones in oncology units of the hospital. We do not want to hear the treatment options available once the “C” word is spoken. We ignore early signs and skip routine screenings so we will not hear the bad news.
Unfortunately, when we run away and put our heads in the sand, we are not safe from the disease. Running and fear only keep us ignorant until it is too late.
Or we can react with strength. We can draw on our strength of character and, more importantly, our faith. While I wish that following Jesus would keep us free of cancer or any number of life-threatening diseases, the truth is faith is a resource with which to face whatever may come our way.
I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 5:3-5. “We rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.”
Those who walk in the Relay for Life have chosen the second path. It is a time to celebrate with the cancer survivors. It is a time to prayerfully remember those who currently are struggling with or have lost the fight to cancer. It is a time to educate, reminding the community of routine screenings and early signs to better seek treatment. It is a time to raise funds for those undergoing cancer treatment and researching a cure.
I hope you will face cancer or whatever comes your way with strength and not be ruled by fear.