Cancer Just Sucks!

Deep down in my innermost being, I desperately wish I could remove cancer from the dictionary!  After watching my grandfather and grandmother both suffer from and ultimately succumb to this awful illness, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, not even my worst enemy.  Despite this deep desire, tonight I find myself again saddened because a dear friend finds himself battling cancer.  My friend Mark and I worked together several years ago when I was still with the health department.  He was such an inspiration to me during that time and became like a brother.  Mark gave me great advice about life, relationships, and faith.  He challenged me to appreciate life in a new way.  As life would have it, Mark and I both moved on from the health department to bigger and better things, but we’ve continued to keep in touch periodically over the years.

A few months ago, Mark found out he had cancer.  As soon as he shared this bit of information with me, tears fell from my eyes.  How could such an awful thing happen to such a good guy?  Mark’s been through enough already…as a teenager, he was the lone survivor of a car accident that killed his two older brothers!  Mark’s a great son, a great husband, a great father, and an avid follower of Christ.  In my personal opinion, Mark, of all people, didn’t deserve this.  Yet, this is the hand the life has dealt him.  Through it all, he and his wife continue to amaze me as they face this struggle with such dignity.  After every chemo treatment, they rejoice about the goodness of God and expresses continued thankfulness for God’s mercies through Mark’s treatment despite all they are going through.  As Mark now faces radiation treatments many miles away from home, his life story reminds me of Job…when he found out he would need daily radiation treatments for an entire month, his job fired him.  So, after losing two brothers, losing a job in the mid-atlantic, leaving family behind and relocating his immediate family to the south for a new job, and being diagnosed with cancer, he gets kicked by his job while he’s down on his luck.  I can’t even imagine facing cancer with the stress of knowing you will not have another paycheck coming in, and your health insurance has just been taken away.

Why does God allow things like this to happen?  Why does God allow cancer to happen?  The easy answer, perhaps, is so we will have a testimony to share one day, but this truth doesn’t make the bitter taste of the low places in life any better in the moment.  My heart aches for Mark and his family.  Despite the encouraging tones of his words, when I look at his most recent pictures, it’s easy to see how much this latest life challenge has worn on him.  He doesn’t look like himself anymore.  I share Mark’s story tonight because my heart aches for him.  I know our God is faithful, and I fully believe that Mark’s complete healing is just around the corner, but I’m so sad that my friend is facing this all too familiar challenge.  I ask that all of you would keep Mark and his family in your prayers…they certainly need all of the prayers they can get in this season of their life journey.

Until next time, be well…

It’s In Your View!

It’s been nearly a year since I first began my journey in the Management Intern program at the NIH.  I can assure that a year ago I had no idea what was in store for me.  It’s been a great year, a challenging year, an overwhelming year, but perhaps, most importantly it’s been a year that has caused me to think deeply about how I view life.  This morning I had a “not so original” epiphany that I’ll share in just a bit.

You see…my starting the intern program nearly a year ago means that a new group of individuals just found out they made it into the program.  Each year, there’s a diverse group of individuals who apply…candidates come from all racial backgrounds, all career series, all pay levels, different institutes and centers, the diversity of the applicants is limitless, but the selected interns do not always reflect this spectrum of diversity.  Upon the naming of the new interns, one of my colleagues made the decision to make some assumptions about the new interns based on a numerical value that has been placed on them, their pay grade.  Initially, I was irritated that this person found it acceptable to seek out this information, but this irritation has slowly festered into anger.  And, if I’m honest, I desperately want to address the issue directly with the person, but I won’t, I’ve decided it’s best to walk away.  Nevertheless, this act of judging others based on an artificial marker of worth, knowledge, potential, and character opened my eyes to this morning’s ordinary epiphany.  No matter who we are, we view life through our own set of unique lenses.

This epiphany helped me immensely because I’ve been bothered, and quite frankly, angered, a lot over the past few weeks by people in my circles who seem extremely judgmental.  Have I wrongfully judged in the past…certainly.  Have I looked down on people before…I’m guilty, but my thought process has matured over time.  I also think my lens view of life has taught me to avoid looking down on others.  I come from a family where there are individuals that never received their high school diploma and that humbles me.  I come from a family where my grandparents opened their homes to those in need and served as foster parents and that humbles me.  I grew up in a family where anyone was welcome to eat at mealtime, whether you lived in the house or were just visiting because you knew a meal was being served and that humbles me.  I grew up in a family where folks have committed the crime and served the time, yet they are still good at their core and that humbles me.

Coming from a family that was far from privileged causes me to see life differently.  Through my lens…people are not defined by their salary, their educational level, their job, their college, their neighborhood, the color of their skin, their religion…no, through my lens, people are defined by their character, their inner being, their heart, their compassion, their love, their ability to fall down and get back up again, their ability to defeat the odds, and their ability to overcome the stereotypes society has placed on them.  It’s not my job, nor my right to look down on somebody else because my truth is that I don’t fully understand the images seen through their lens.

Until next time…