Wednesday, October 6, 2010


So I had some surprising news at Chemo yesterday. I have been cutting back on the steroids to combat the side effects of the Cushings Syndrome. Last week my creatinine was up to 3.3 from 3.1. It's a fairly negligible jump and not unexpected but yesterday the creatinine was back at 3.1. Go Figure. Dare I hope that the time I was on the extra steroids was enough time to give my kidneys a chance to stabilize? I haven't really noticed any physical results from backing off the chemo yet and I know that takes time so it could be that as time goes on and the extra steroids leave my system the creatinine could creep back up but for now I'm going to take the gift and enjoy it.

So I have been asking myself lately where does God fit into all this? It seems that recently this topic has come up quite often. I am not an overtly religious person. I consider myself an agnostic. I believe in the possibility. Having been raised Catholic which in my opinion is as much a culture as it is a religion I view myself as a sceptical, questioning Catholic. Which to most Catholics kind of goes against what being a Catholic is. You're either in or you're out. Fish or cut bait. But it's never been that simple for me. When I think of my Catholicism I think of that great line from one of the Godfather movies where Al Pacino in speaking of the mafia says "I keep trying to get out but it pulls me back in." I believe my issues are primarily with Catholicism not with God but as I mentioned I've recently had some very interesting discussions with friends about God and if, where or how he fits in when it comes to things like tragedy and illness.

My father has a cousin who lost a grandson to Lesch-Nyhan syndrome (LNS). It is a rare, inherited disorder caused by a deficiency of the enzymehypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT). LNS is an X-linked recessive disease-- the gene is carried by the mother and passed on to her son. LNS is present at birth in baby boys. The lack of HPRT causes a build-up of uric acid in all body fluids, and leads to symptoms such as severe gout, poor muscle control, and moderate retardation, which appear in the first year of life. He went to Duke for a blood cord stem cell transplant and didn't make it.

I went to the wake with my parents and granted the families grief was raw and new but I was amazed by their faith. If I had lost my child at 18 months after prolonged suffering I think I would be angry with God. What kind of a God lets things like this happen to innocent little children. But does that view God more as puppet master?

A friend told me about a friend of a friend who has stage 4 lung cancer and has made peace with God and felt like she's gotten her family to a good place so is ready for the inevitable. I don't feel a need to make peace with God because I do not believe we re at odds.

If there is a Supreme Being, whatever you may call him I believe he/she/it puts us here and we are given free choice. Stuff happens good and bad we deal with it the best we can. I don't believe our lives are orchestrated by a God, therefore I'm not sure I was put here for a reason as some have asked. Is there a final reward for good choices or behavior? As Hemingway says in the last line of The Sun Also Rises, "Isn't it pretty to think so." But in all honesty I don't know. I don't have the kind of faith or certainty that I see in others. I am awed by it. I admire it. Let me be clear though, this doesn't make me sad or leave me feeling wanting or lacking.

Several people have asked me if I've had any great epiphanies since my diagnosis. While my views on some things have changed, like how I want to spend my time or what really matters to me, my feelings regarding God and religion have not. I don't blame him and I don't expect him to cure me. So I try and live the best life I can live which I think is pretty much what I was doing prior to this illness just maybe with a little more urgency now. That said, if my views regarding God and religion haven't changed why would I expect someone with deep faith to change their views?

So I ask again, where does God fit into all this and I guess the answer I come up with is where you need him if you need him.

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