July 13, 2008

Colon cancer can FOAD. In the most unbelievably painful way possible. **

Somehow I missed the news about Tony Snow this weekend. I feel terribly sad for his family. Colon cancer is a wicked, wicked bastard. It's insidious, it hides. And it steals wonderful vibrant lives a little at a time.

I wish I had had a chance to meet Tony and tell him how much I admired his complete lack of BS. No matter how hard he was spinning, he always seemed to be completely without BS, and that that was important to him. I wish I'd had a chance to thank him for his grace in dealing with this awful disease, how many people his illness has touched, and that maybe he was responsible for saving the lives of more than a few of them.

His faith and remarkable attitude toward death are on display in this article Tony wrote for Christianity Today about a year ago:

Blessings arrive in unexpected packages, in my case, cancer.

Those of us with potentially fatal diseases, and there are millions in America today, find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the why questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.

But despite this, because of it, God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.

To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life, and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts, an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live, fully, richly, exuberantly, no matter how their days may be numbered.

Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease, smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see, but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension, and yet don't. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.

Read the whole piece, it's a beautiful statement of faith and how we can use adversity to our advantage. Thanks to Jen for finding this.

Tony is surely in heaven tonight, and I hope his family has peace knowing that his ordeal is over. Rest in Peace.

** FOAD -- Fu*k Off And Die, also CCFOAD -- Cancer Can Fu*k Off And Die. see here

Posted by caltechgirl at July 13, 2008 09:42 PM | TrackBack

I'll have to pass word to the retired blogger. Snow was a big fan of his and vice versa.

Posted by: Da Goddess at July 14, 2008 08:41 AM

My dear m-i-l passed away recently from effin colon cancer...she was diagnosed around the same time Tony Snow was, and just died on June 30th. An ugly disease. But her dignity through it all was so very inspiring.

But cancer can still FOAD.

Posted by: Mrs. Who at July 16, 2008 10:13 AM

My mom was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer late last year. She sent me a copy of Tony Snow's message the other day and said that reading it has profoundly helped her come to terms with what's going on.

Snow was an amazing man in life, and will continue to be so even now.

And, yes, colon cancer can FOAD as far as I'm concerned, too.

Posted by: Venomous Kate at July 16, 2008 10:39 AM