Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Deep Thoughts on Life and Death

Wow, I didn't realize how hard it was going to be to motivate myself to do this. I think part of the problem is that I have so many ideas spinning around in my head that it's hard to decide what to write about. Hmmm...maybe I'll just write about the last couple of days.

My neighbor has cancer. That, in itself, is pretty unremarkable. I mean, people get cancer all the time. But my neighbor is only 20. She actually first got cancer (osteosarcoma, to be exact) at 18. She was a vibrant senior member of her high school soccer team when she began noticing the pain. After a grueling battle which included surgery, a donor bone (who even knew they did that!), and chemo, she beat it and life returned, pretty much, to normal. She had even enrolled in college. But it was sitting in class that she started to experience pain again, this time in her lower back/tailbone area. Tests confirmed that the cancer had come back, and this time the doctors haven't offerred much hope to Ashley and her family. She has been given only months to live.

Like any good mother, Judy is seeking alternative treatments--supplements, healthy foods, and perhaps even a clinical trial if one becomes available. I'm helping her do some of the legwork on the internet, and the enormity of information out there is overwhelming. Seemingly everyone has heard of some wonder tablet or holistic physician that we absolutely must get/talk with/look into. People are trying so hard to be helpful, but this bounty of information sometimes confuses, rather than enlightens.

Ashley's attitude is great. I'm not sure she's so "on board" with the diet and supplement regime, but I think she understands--as few young women her age could--that she needs to comply, if not for her own health, than for her mother's sanity. Judy needs to know that she made every effort, explored every option, did everything she possibly could to keep Ashley alive.

Ashley and her family are believers. Ashley has faced death in the face before and won. This time, she may not win the battle. But in her amazing 20-year-old wisdom, she understands that in the end, she will be victorious. First Corinthians 15:54-55 says: "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

Sure, we want to keep Ashley here with us, but it's selfish, really. We like having her around. But if and when Ashley does leave this world, she won't be missing it. She'll have moved on to a place so incomparable to anything we can even conjure up in our little minds. Don't pity Ashley. Pity those of us she'll leave behind.

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