For millions of people around the globe, cancer is seen as devastating, both physically and psychologically. Because of the extensive prevalence of the disease worldwide and the uncertainty and severe unpleasantness of the most common treatments it has more than deserved the epithet, “dread disease”.
Many people can identify with the disease, either as a direct sufferer or knowing of a family member, relative, colleague or other acquaintance who went through the experience. Cancer absolutely does not prescribe to any racial, religious, cultural or social boundaries. It affects the wealthy, the poor, aristocrats, sinners, intellectuals, drunkards, and even those perceived as living a super healthy life.
Influenced by various factors upon diagnosis, the sufferer fills with fear and is forced to push aside the issues of everyday life to focus on the fundamental and eternal considerations, probable imminent death introduces. From now on, not only physical suffering but intense pain caused by a roller coaster of emotions, losses, regrets and relational challenges becomes the norm.
The sufferer seeks for hope wherever it can be found. Very many take this quest to God, or the Superior Being they identify with. At such a time of crisis, a pre-existent relationship with God blossoms. For Christians by example, access to God and the resources of their faith is crucial. Second to this is the support of close friends and family who all experience the crisis to some extent alongside the sufferer. Under the shadow of “the big C”, all involved need considerable understanding, compassion and counsel.
This leads us to the heart-rending story of Shirley Cameron.
Born in 1975 in South Africa to parents who had been told they couldn’t fall pregnant, Shirley grew up as a pastor’s kid. Although very talented and gifted life for her developed into a struggle with depression, failed friendships, and the belief that she had no worth and was not lovable, not by God and not by anyone else. Her marriage failed after five and a half years and she found herself alone in the UK. At university she had decided that since the Christianity with which she grew up left her facing an unrelenting God whom she could never please and who was always finding her at fault she would turn away from it.
In the UK her desires became to be a successful career woman, to travel and have fun. But as time went by she discovered to her surprise that what she wanted most was to marry and have children. Her mother was always a close friend and confidant and longed more than anything that she would meet God and be saved. The Lord continued to pursue Shirley and on one of her travels alone on a beach in Dunedin, she prayed for a long time “because I thought God might want to hear from me.”
Through her struggles to find the right man and other life circumstances her relationship with God gained strength. And then in April 2013, now a member of Greyfriars church in Reading, Shirley’s whole life gets turned upside down, when she is diagnosed with cancer.
Once diagnosed, Shirley chooses to “cut my crap and do it with God”. He blesses her, but above all, with the realisation of the one thing she wants above all else, the knowledge that he loves her.
This experience is fascinatingly captured in the book called “Mum, Please Help Me To Die”. Please read it, and there is no doubt that it will change both your personal and spiritual outlook not only about cancer, but also life in general.