Unity Magazine

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When your child is diagnosed with cancer, you can’t help but ask yourself all sorts of practical “why” questions.

You scour your brain trying to figure out why your child got cancer when there are millions of other children that don’t? Was it the fluorinated water we gave our children thinking it was good for them? Was it the fertility medications that I took while trying to conceive? Was it the prednisone that the doctor told me that I had to take in order to sustain the pregnancy? Why didn’t I force her to eat more fruits and vegetables?

Then I moved on to spiritual questions. Why would God allow this to happen to a child? Why would He allow a child to be diagnosed with a disease that is so painful? Why didn’t we have more warning so we could have caught it earlier? Why us? We are good people. We haven’t done anything bad. We have attempted to take good care of our children and be upstanding people in the community.

Colleen was diagnosed in September 2007. I continue to ask myself many of these questions to this day. The frequency at which I ask myself has slowed and I feel like I can answer some of the questions,
but I continue to ask them anyway because I am not always content with the answers.

I vividly remember a conversation that I had with a close friend and spiritual advisor shortly after Colleen was diagnosed. I remember asking her “How could God allow this to happen to her?” Her answer was brief but powerful and I will never forget it.

“God is crying along with you,” she said. She continued on to remind me that God has given us all free will. As a result, we sadly live in a fallen world full of pollutants and dangers that have the potential to harm us (and our children). He can’t save us all. What He can do is support us on our journeys if we choose to let Him.

One of the hardest situations for me was when people told me that they were praying for Colleen to get her miracle. I am a woman of deep faith. Sadly, however, I did not have faith that the multitudes of tumors in my daughter’s body were going to suddenly disappear from the scans. So those prayer offers often upset me. Prayers for comfort, peace and pain-free days were much more welcome. But how do you say that to someone?

I was speaking to a friend the other day whose son has terminal brain cancer. He was in hospice for several months, the family in a holding pattern, not quite sure how many days they had left with their precious son. When people asked her what they should pray for, she would say that she just didn’t want him to suffer.

A couple of months ago, he began to gain his energy back. He started to feel better and he was happy and playful. The family excused hospice, as their services did not seem to be needed any longer. I spoke to his mom last week, she was devastated because the new scan results came back and they were “all lit up,” meaning that the cancer had spread significantly. She was so confused. How can this little boy that seemed to be feeling so much better be riddled with cancer? I told her that I was very sorry to hear about the scan results. She must be horribly confused. But it sounds to me like God had answered her prayers. He wasn’t suffering.

I asked her if she had peace. She said she did but that she felt guilty for having it. Boy, can I relate to that! I feel guilt every time I consider that I am happier in my career now, as a result of my newfound career (helping children with cancer and their families) than before Colleen died. But then I have to remind myself, as I did my friend on the phone that day, that this is a beautiful gift that God bestowed on me and we should never, ever feel guilty for the gifts God gives us.

So why her? Why us? Nobody can answer that question. Why anyone? What I do know is that each of us is put on a path in our lives, and we can choose to live that life triumphantly like Colleen did or choose to kick and scream the entire time. I am very proud of my daughter and the number of lives she touched through her unfortunate and painful journey. However, I found my purpose and that is an incredible gift that I will always be grateful for.