A Cancer Survivor’s Calling


 cancer survivor

“I know what my calling is,” Brenda said. She is a cancer survivor, alive today, she told me, because three women had carried her on their prayers from fear and death to healing and life. She went on . . .

I’ll give you an example.

I went for a scan, and I’m so anxious. They tell you to take off your top and ‘put on one of these gowns.’ I sit in this room with four other women, and it’s quiet. We’re all nervous. Then I look across the room and I see a woman with her head in her hands, shaking. I look at the other women, but no one is moving.

So I get up, go across the room and I sit down next to her. I say, “Are you all right?” She shakes her head slightly. She is crying.

So I say, “Would you like a hug?” And mind you, I don’t know this woman from Adam. She nods, so I put my arms around her and just hold her for a time.

Then I showed her the picture of my son that I carry with me for strength and courage. And I showed her my 500 dollar winning lottery ticket that I carry for good luck and she laughed. Just—you know—to take her mind off it.

Three women did that for me, and I look for people that I can help. That’s my calling.

A Stroke of Enlightening

One morning a blood vessel exploded in Jill Bolte Taylor’s brain. She felt a deep pain—like a head freeze from eating ice cream—behind her left eye. Slowly she watched as her brain functions shut down—speech, cognition, motion. Jill was a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist—a brain scientist, observing a brain undergoing a stroke . . . from the…

Be Not Afraid

“Hurricane Fay to fade, but Gonzalo waits in the wings.” My home page opens to NBC News, and this is the latest headline. If we are disappointed that Fay has faded, it means to say, there is yet more to worry about. Ganzalo waits in the wings. Polls show that Americans are increasingly afraid. We…

The Beauty of Imperfection

The primary cause of mental illness, Karl Menninger said, is the inability of people to forgive themselves for being imperfect. Those words came from Frank Griswold, the former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, preaching at Saint Luke’s this morning. He was speaking of St. Paul, who sought famously to perfect himself through a rigorous…

Never Too Late to Love

“It is never too late to love.” That’s what a good friend told me this week. I was telling her of a kind of break-through: I had learned to love someone a little better, to forgive someone (and pardon myself as well). It felt good, but almost immediately I thought, “I wish I had come…