In the days before computers, college registration involved waiting in long lines. Freshmen were last to register and my hope was an elective in social science, fine arts or music. But when I reached the registration table, I was assigned the only open class, Theology 101—The History of Religion. I was less than excited. And, worse yet, it was a Monday-Wednesday-Friday 8:00 a.m. class.
The professor was a Marianist brother, with PhDs in Ancient Languages and Cultural Anthropology, and five minutes into my first class, I realized he was a captivating lecturer. Possessing a gift for making the mundane interesting, he introduced each lecture with a compelling story. I was so fascinated by the depth and breath of the professor’s knowledge, I studied with him every semester earning me an unplanned a minor in Theology. I am not a theologian nor am I intensely religious. But Theology taught me a great deal about faith, hope and life. Lung cancer interrupted my collegiate learning.
Faith is more than a religious virtue; it is a distinctive human trait. Hope comes from faith. Thomas Aquinas, the noted 13th century Christian philosopher, explained the relationship with these words: “faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand.” Faith and hope are essential virtues for lung cancer survivors. We don’t see evidence of treatment at work, yet faith causes our belief they are, and we are ever hopeful of achieving extended life. Hope then is our bastion against things we cannot control like life threatening lung cancer.
Life has a beginning and an end. Both are uncertain and often beyond influence. In between comes living, and we have some control over the nature and quality of life. While in active treatment, I forgot my ability for self-determination resulting in 3 years of wasted life. Almost everyday, someone comes to this forum expressing fear, uncertainty, and despondency. I well understand why, but I also know that a lung cancer is not the end of life; it is part of life. In that vein, I recall a quotation by Saint Rose of Viterbo framed in my professor’s classroom. “Live so as not to fear death. For those who live well in the world, death is not frightening…” Have faith, hope and live well.
Stay the course.