I know this seems like an odd day to write a blog about this, but it is truly in the forefront of my mind. Let me give you a little background. I am kind of putting myself out there, but you will get a glimpse and what goes on in my feeble mind:) I was born and raised in a traditional Catholic family. I was baptized, had holy communion in second grade, then confirmed in 8th grade. I did all of this as an altar boy and catholic school student. It was all I really knew. I ventured off the college and occasionally went to sunday Mass, but definitely not like I used to.
In my second semester of college, I was diagnosed with Burkitt's Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, one of THE most aggressive cancers out there. Had they not found my tumor, I could have been dead within a week. They found the tumor during a routine appendectomy. Fortunately, I was part of a clinical research trial at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD where I underwent intense chemotherapy for 3 months. In 3 months times, the amount of chemo I was given was the equivalent of what most patients receive in two and a half years. Clearly, I feel very lucky to be alive. Everyone deals with a cancer diagnosis differently. Some turn to God and Prayer and this gives them the hope and determination to beat the disease. Others turn to their doctors and the science that they provide. Is either side wrong? Absolutely not.
This is where my struggle enters the picture. At 18 when I was diagnosed, I certainly prayed and to this day I say THE same prayer every night before I go to bed. I have been saying the same prayer since I was 8 or 10 years old. That being said, I no longer attend church and have recently begun to really question what I have been doing all these years. I liken it to a great match of mental ping pong. The ball goes back and forth as do my opinions and feelings. I really want to believe in God, but things have happened in my life that sometimes I do question it. I have a 15 year old friend battling cancer who was diagnosed on his 14th birthday. I lost a high school friend to Non-hodgkin's Lymphoma and I lost my aunt to Leukemia. My mother in law is currently battling Stage IIIc ovarian cancer and my good friend in Cali is battling cancer for the 4th time. Would God really allow this to happen? Or does it happen to teach us a lesson in life and living? I know my aunt and friend's ultimate deaths from cancer changed my life forever. It helped shaped the man I am today. Was this the reason they were diagnosed? Did the doctors find my tumor because God had a plan for me? I don't know right now.
I look back at my cancer and did God really cure me? Or was it the amazing doctors, drugs, and sheer will of survival that got me through the ordeal?
On the other hand, how else could all the amazing beauty in the world exist? I traveled to Ireland just after college and it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Paris? Same thing, blown away by its magnificent beauty. I have been fortunate enough to travel to both Alaska and Hawaii in the last year and a half as the president of the CancerClimber Association. These two places are gorgeous and full of natural beauty. Could these places exist without a God? Unfortunately, I don't have an answer quite yet, but I am confident that at some point in my life, it will all make sense.
I know that faith has a place and I consider myself a very spiritual person. Am I bad because I don't go to church every sunday? Some people would have me think that, but fortunately, I don't believe that one bit. If there is a God, I am pretty confident that as long as you live a good life and be the best person you can be you will be alright in his eyes. At this point in my life, I think church is a great place and venue for some people, but for me, I find more solace and spirituality on my bike or working out or riding my motorcycle. It gives me a place to escape. I think about my amazing family, friends and everything that I am thankful for..it is almost surreal in that I am so in touch with my senses that sometimes I get emotional. If go to church, I get so caught up in the monotony of the ritual that I lose sight of why I am there.
I hope that it all makes sense. I want to believe and will continue to do my homework and read up on everything I can get my hands on, but I do know that if we live a good life and be the best person we possibly can be, then everything will work itself out. If there is a heaven, I hope that I will be there when it is my time. I also hope that I make sense of this nature versus God struggle. I am hopeful that this is just another phase in my life and as I get older I will learn more and hopefully do the right thing. I ask that you don't judge me, but help me. I don't know it all and certainly have never professed to. I know religion, like politics, is fueled with passion and belief. I hope to learn something from all of you.