On a recent visit to the mall Harrison and I parked next to a car with two teenage girls smoking. Harrison remarked, as he’d been taught since just a little child, “Don’t they know smoking will give them cancer.”
I was frozen.
Harrison didn’t catch it: he had cancer. And he’s never taken a drag.
I was sick to my stomach. How do these teens choose a behavior that every knows can give them cancer while my little boy fights for his life from that very disease? Do they not know what Harrison is going through, the pain, frustration, loss, fear? Do they not realize the daily fear and pain his parents and siblings face? How could they flaunt their health as if to tell my son, “We can do what we want and YOU are the one who’ll die.”
I felt like I’ve misled my son all these years: bad behavior has bad results. He’s always been the most compliant and well-behaved kid, yet he’s the one with cancer?!
I wanted those girls to be the ones with this life-threatening disease, not my son. Selfishness had taken over.
My mind went back to something I’ve seen time and again while reading about childhood cancer: more funding goes to research “behavior-related” diseases than childhood cancer. AIDS and adult cancers like lung cancer receive more federal funding than the disease that is threatening to kill my son. How?
My cousin Maureen’s ongoing effort to raise funds for childhood cancer. Rush Limbaugh’s annual drive to raise money for leukemia and lymphoma research. Highlighting the work of St. Jude. It makes sense now.
In a week when the news is filled with demands to fund Planned Parenthood, whose 800k-plus abortions each year are demonstrated to contribute to breast cancer, I am filled with a little righteous indignation.
Perhaps if there had been one more research team, or one more clinical trial, or one more dollar for chemo research, my son wouldn’t be fighting for his life. Maybe he wouldn’t need to ask, “Am I gonna die.” Maybe he would be back to normal life as a ten year old boy playing with his friends without fear that one of them might, unwittingly, kill him with their seemingly-harmless germs.
Smoking causes cancer.
What do I tell my son about the cause of his cancer?
The closest answer I can find comes from the Bible. In John 9, Jesus and his disciples encounter a blind man. The disciples ask whether it was this man’s behavior or his father’s that caused the blindness. Jesus answered, “Neither.” In the wilderness these things happen. But God works in them for his glory. I don’t know how, but I desire the glory of God to be seen in this.