Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster
Davis Motor Sales banner ad

Keeping the Faith - Fight On

mhm metalsKENTUCKY (7/21/13) - For the last several months I have been keeping a regular appointment with an oncologist. I’m not the one receiving care, however. My friend has lung cancer, and I have been accompanying her as she receives weekly doses of chemotherapy.

These cancer treatments are administered in an “infusion laboratory.” If you have never been in one, and I hope you never have the occasion, they are all fairly uniform in design and purpose. The “lab” is a simple room with comfortable, leather lounge chairs lining the walls. Each chair has an infusion pump that pushes what everyone prays is cancer-killing compounds through the body.

Competent, smiling nurses respond to the needs of the patients and the beeping machinery. Doctors float in and out of the room as needed. Faces grimace over the prospects of yet another needle stick; cancer war stories are told and retold; and blankets are handed out with sips of ginger ale and nibbles of saltine crackers to ease the nausea.

There are those tucked into those chairs who look well, and others who are obviously ill. There are those who have been making pilgrimage to the lab for years, and those who are newbies. Some are alone, and some are with friends or family. Some discretely hide their baldness and emaciation, and others wear the rigors of treatment like a badge of honor.

And when it comes to coping, the differences are manifold as well. Some are in shock over their prognosis. Some are depressed. Some have a stoic, Zen-like acceptance. Some keep smiling no matter what, and some are as mad as hell – at life, God, physicians – at anything or anyone who can be held responsible.

Then some patients have all these feelings simultaneously, jumbled together at once. Don’t be fooled: Coping with a major illness is not as orderly as textbooks led us to believe. It is a hot mess of total emotion when facing one’s personal mortality, and everyone who stands on that precipice feels everything at one point or another in the process – and sometimes these are all felt at once.

But for all the compare and contrast of these unique individuals, they are all held together by the solidarity of their battle. Through the blood, sweat, and tears they fight; they fight like gladiators in the arena. And gladiators they are, for they are desperately fighting for their lives. More so, they are fighting for what it means to be human.

As a hospital chaplain and pastor, I have visited countless bedsides, cancer wards, and infusion labs; never have I grown accustomed to the brutalizing effects of the disease on both body and spirit. Cancer, like few other afflictions, does more than “steal, kill, and destroy” the physique. It attempts to deprive a person of his or her dignity. It endeavors to smother the internal flame and erase the spirit of the one who suffers.

So those fighting cancer (and other horrible illnesses) are not just fighting for a few more years. They are fighting for what it means to be a human being. They are marshalling all their grit and resilience (and something that borders on elegance), not just to stay alive physically, but to guard their very souls.

Oddly, this reminds me of legendary pacifist Pastor A.J. Muste. During the Vietnam War he stood in front of the White House night after night with a lit candle, in persistent and peaceful protest. A reporter asked him, “Do you really think that standing here with a candle can change the world?” Paraphrasing, he answered with a smile, “I don’t stand here with my candle to change the world. I stand here to keep the world from changing me.”

Those in the arena understand that physical life may be taken from them, but by God’s grace, no disease will ever rob them of their humanity, their identity, of their innate worth as unique creations of the Almighty. They understand that the fight may not change their prognosis, but the fight prevents the disease from changing them.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

button coupons
button classifieds

In Other News...

Firefighters Bring Joy to Homestead Home Residents

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (12/24/14) ― Residents at Homestead Personal Care Home on Thompson Avenue received a welcomed… Read More

Hopkins County Grand Jury Indictments

HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (12/24/14) — The following indictments were recently returned by a Hopkins County Grand Jury. John… Read More

Most Read This Week

December 24, 2014 11323

Christmas Eve Bloody Brawl Erupts on Dulin Street

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis
December 25, 2014 7745

Gift Returns Done Right

in General News For All Sites by SurfKY News
December 19, 2014 6245

Armstrong Mine to Layoff 39 by End of Day

in Top News For All Sites by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
December 19, 2014 5268

Dawson Springs Man Charged with Sexual Abuse of…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Detective Sean McCance
December 19, 2014 4738

Woman Flown to St. Mary's after Two-Car Collision

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
December 19, 2014 3961

Vehicle Fire Causes Traffic Back-Up on Pennyrile

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis
December 23, 2014 3864

Couple's Alleged Dispute over Blanket Leads to…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
December 19, 2014 3684

Vehicle Explodes into Flames on Pride Avenue

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Gwen Smith
December 25, 2014 3526

Arrests Made After Dulin Avenue Christmas Eve…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Officer C.P. Haynie
December 23, 2014 3349

Alleged Theft at Walmart Sends Two to Jail

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department

Stories Trending Today

December 24, 2014 11323

Christmas Eve Bloody Brawl Erupts on Dulin Street

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis
December 25, 2014 7745

Gift Returns Done Right

in General News For All Sites by SurfKY News
December 25, 2014 3526

Arrests Made After Dulin Avenue Christmas Eve…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Officer C.P. Haynie
December 25, 2014 2941

Crime Stoppers Top Most Wanted - December 25, 2014

in Video by Crime Stoppers
December 23, 2014 2897

Disturbance Results in Vehicle, Foot Pursuit,…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Officer Tyler Russell
December 23, 2014 2632

Hopkins County Grand Jury Indictments

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Karen McKnight
December 24, 2014 1743

KCC Hosts 'Gift of Life' Opportunity

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
December 24, 2014 1662

'Frozen' Plays to One Last Packed House at Living…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
December 24, 2014 1646

2014 Looking Back: World Saddened at Death of…

in Top News For All Sites by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
December 24, 2014 1566

Statewide Broadband Initiative Launched

in Top News For All Sites by Office of the Governor

SurfKY News Group, Inc.
Corporate Office & Studio
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431
270.452.2727 (phone)
  •  270.452.2249 (fax)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social fbsocial twsocial yt
social gpsocial flrsocial rss