The other day I shared my wonderings about why I ended up with breast cancer when I already had two handicapped children. Many new friends and old friends have shared their thoughts and wisdom with me, and given me comfort and encouragement. One thing has become obvious, though. I think I’m not as theologically sophisticated as other people are. Maybe that’s related to the fact that I’ve been teaching second grade Sunday school for so long – it’s a chicken and egg thing – do I fit there because my faith is relatively simple, or has my faith become less sophisticated because I spend my time teaching the fundamentals?
Second grade faith formation for my students is the sacraments, the Mass, the chuch year and the rosary. That’s all. One year, four things. Simple, beautiful, miraculous. My class is always diverse in terms of abilities…. people tease me that half can read and half can speak English, and they’re not the same half. But every child learns and learns and learns these simple, beautiful and miraculous components of our faith.
We don’t discuss issues like WHY people get cancer and WHY Downs exists, though. So when I get to wondering about these things, I really need help from my friends. Kathryn Mulderink, who left an eloquent comment this week, has also written a beautiful book, called “His Suffering and Ours” which I bought after Elizabeth Foss suggested it. Lately I’ve been reading it in the evenings, when Brian climbs into my bed to read his books next to me. Sometimes it takes two or three times through a page for it to all make sense to me. It’s totally worth the effort, and I’d recommend it highly. But understanding it doesn’t come easily to me. At first I thought my problem was chemo-brain, but then when I told a friend about my troubles, she told me that maybe I just wasn’t ready to accept my burdens in a deep theological way yet.
I was briefly offended until she pointed something else out to me. I had shared with her earlier how interesting I found the section for my blog which tells me what search engine terms people use to find me. Every day several different people come to my blog after searching about breast cancer in nursing moms, or breast lumps during lactation or something like that.
What if some of those ladies read my blog and decided to take action about a lump they found, rather than waiting months or a year or more until they weaned their babies? What if therefore those ladies were spared radical surgery and chemotherapy? What if the research study that I sent my frozen breastmilk for leads to a way to detect risk for cancer before it even causes a lump?
Maybe I have cancer, and can write about it, in order to save others’ lives. I’d be OK with that.