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Cancer and Faith, particularly religious faith, is a complicated and empassioned subject, one I usually steer clear of. But a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, by Lawrence Krauss, questioned what faith really is, given our ever increasing knowledge of cosmology and quantum mechanics.
It’s a subject which is especially soul searching for cancer survivors, who are forced to address their own mortality and the meaning of their lives frequently. For some, it reaffirms their religious faith in which they find solice. For others, it reawakens years of separation from their faith as they start to understand their God’s plan. And for the rest of us it raises many unresolved questions.
I’ve lost three of my closest friends to ovarian cancer. I can’t find any explanation as to why a God would rip them away from their families at such a young age. If that was The Plan, which none of us are supposed to question, then I can’t subscribe to it.
So what is the meaning of life for survivors, or is there one? The recent article said most surprising, that, combining the ideas of general relativity and quantum mechanics, we can now understand how space itself could arise spontaneously out of nothing.
Perhaps most remarkable of all, not only is it now plausible, in a scientific sense, that our universe came from nothing, if we ask what properiies it would have, its the universe we live in.
Does all of this prove that our universe and the laws that govern it arose spontaneously without divine guidance or purpose? No, it just says its possible. And that possibility doesn’t necessarily imply that our own lives are devoid of meaning.
So what does this mean for cancer survivors, who are trying to attach meaning to their cancer and their life, when life itself doesn’t seem to make any sense. For me, it has renewed my faith in human kind.
We make our own purpose, instead of divine purpose, and that empowers us with a much greater responsibility. The meaning in our lives arises from what we make of it, our relationships and our soul. Living in a universe without purpose may just prepare us to better face the reality of life, with all it’s disappointments and joys.
If the universe and the creation of man has no meaning, I’m ok with that. Because meaning in my life is resurrected every day by my children, my husband and friends and by my belief that, as long as I keep fighting to stay here, I can do good for others.
Kay Kerbyson is a local and national cancer advocate. She is also founder and President of Ovarian Cancer Together, a state wide networking and support charity based in West Richland, Wash. She can be contacted at Kay@ovariancancertogether.org