Defending God

My mom is a lady and a woman of few words. Clearly, I take after my father. Cancer took him in 2003. The first time I heard my mom say, “Cancer sucks,” I was shocked.  Now when we hear of someone who is battling cancer, she will shake her head and say “Cancer sucks.”  She doesn’t say anything else. There isn’t really anything else to say, yet people have a LOT to say about cancer.

It really is that simple. Cancer sucks.  Anyone who has had any proximity to cancer knows that it is an all-consuming, soul sucking, whore of a disease. It steals the dignity and spirit of its victims and their families with its unpredictable and opportunistic appetite for destruction. The details are depressing and difficult to digest. I remember when people would ask me how my dad was doing, it was just simpler to say, “Cancer sucks. “

One of my first memories was running amok around a funeral home where my grandfather was being waked.  I was 6 years old and my cousin and I were tearing up the place! Running by his casket, I’d stop to take a peek, look at the tie-tack with all of these grandchildren’s birth stones, touch his cold, hard hand and tell him that I’d miss him before taking another lap around the room. Because I was constantly around sick and dying people for the next 5 years, I got used to hearing all the talk about God and His plans. I never believed for a hot second that God planned for anyone to get cancer and I think it’s an insult to God to even suggest such a thing. I’ve been trying to defend God against this slander for about 30 years now.

Cancer is a bad and stupid thing. Nobody likes it, and nobody wants it. Anybody that likes God in any way, shouldn’t be talking smack about how he would make some conscious decision to create and slap a rare and impossible to contain toxic tumor on the brain of a CHILD! Seriously, does that make us feel better? To blame God? And around a child who thinks in black and white who is already in pain and afraid. “Hey little one! This torture and agony? Well, God chose you. It’s the plan for you.”

 It’s a bag of flaming crap, suggesting that cancer could be part of any plan. It’s as ridiculous and useless blaming God for my sucky grammar and spelling.  I mean do we really think God is a soul crushing jackass who has such little regard for humanity as to engage in the cruel business of choosing who gets the biggest dose of suffering?

We are born and we die. Nobody knows for sure about the before and after life stuff, because we have to leave our bodies behind and the next place we go uses a different form of communication. I know this because if it was the same, we’d all be having a chit chat with our dead loved ones and there would be a rad instruction book like the trusty ol’ Bible to give us the 411. There are just some things that are so obvious that it pains me to even have to listen to some ignoramus spewing out their gob about what they know about God. Like I said before - bag……of……crap.

Trust me on a few things here; 1) Cancer sucks 2) If God were a person (which God is not) and God was capable of hate (which God is not) God would probably hate cancer. Being all knowing and all powerful, the facts support God knowing how much cancer sucks therefore God surely does NOT like it, therefore God would NOT do #3 which is next here, 3) God does not decide who gets cancer as part of a plan. When I hear someone say, “This is part of God’s plan,” I have to run in the other direction so that I don’t assault them with my raging fists and furious verbal beat down.

 Faith doesn’t have room for logic and logic doesn’t have room for crap. They can co-exist, but they go together about as well as peanut butter, cognac and urine. It’s taken me awhile to get to my point, but I do have one.

September is cancer awareness month, specifically cancer in children, which really sucks. Being aware of something doesn’t mean needing to explain or understand that something, so don’t. Just be aware. I suggest taking the time to just BE with a person whose child has cancer. To let them BE with you or not, if that’s what they choose. To know that words of comfort most likely don’t exist. If you can BE with someone, you are fulfilling the purpose of being GOLD.

 Gold is the color representing childhood cancer. Be a golden friend to a person whose child has cancer. Be valuable and dependable, hard when you need to be strong for them and soft enough for them to fall into your arms from sheer exhaustion.  Be aware of this. Be smart about this. Just BE mindful of the simple fact that children get cancer and some of them die and that you don’t have to make it better because you can’t because cancer sucks.

Oh, and I think we need to let God off the hook for this as well, I mean from what I understand, God is clearly very busy punishing gay people on the east coast with earthquakes and wildfires in Texas. Surely he doesn’t have time right now to choose to give a toddler cancer.

I'm featuring Mary Tyler Mom's writing about her daughter Donna and their journey with cancer.  http://www.chicagonow.com/mary-tyler-mom . This blog is brave and wonderful. You will need kleenex. And God.

My opinion. The end.

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  • Nikki, you dunned it again. You sed all dem gud tings I wanted but never was able to get just right.
    I heart you.
    Cancer sucks.

  • cancer sucks the most disgusting, lice infested, blistered goat nuts ever. i hate cancer. it's stupid.

    xo winkie.

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    I agree. Cancer does suck. It took my father, Paul Flaherty from me just a month ago, in Aug. 2011. He had beat colon cancer 25 years ago, but was not so fortunate against lung cancer this year.

    In honor of his memory, and to help everyone still fighting cancer, I'm going to walk the Boston Marathon on Sept. 18, 2011 to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. If you or any of your readers would like to make a donation, please go to www.jimmyfundwalk.org/2011/paulflaherty. ♥

  • In reply to Karen Bell:

    So sorry about your father. Cancer took my mom and daughter and there is a special place in hell for cancer cells. At least in my head there is. Just wanted to give a big thumbs up to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and specifically the jimmy fund. They do great work addressing all types of cancer, pediatric and adult. Thank you for walking, Karen.

  • In reply to Mary Tyler Mom:

    xoxoxo

  • sorry about your dad. the daughters of dad's dead to cancer club sucks and so i'll let you spam my blog wall with your fundraiser just this once. big love to you, karen, and i hope your walk kicks ass. xo

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    cancer does suck. and i hate it. i also hate meaningless platitudes meant to comfort that really only anger and confuse. if you really care, then just shut up and listen, and when there's nothing to say that properly expresses your feelings, then don't say anything.

  • In reply to Riki Shiffler:

    totally sucks. totally.

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    In reply to Riki Shiffler:

    I'm disabled and a survivor so I hear ya! No lie! There is just one thing to keep in mind, how would you feel if the "over-achievers" didn't call, show up when you have a surgery, ask if you are ok, un-invite you because they assume you are too sick to go, blame you because they chose to feel bad and you just wanted to be treated "like before" and not "now, here and present". That would get very lonely. Just being the devil's advocate here. (BUT I TOTALLY FEEL YA!)

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    In reply to Ellira McCray:

    i'm sorry, ellira, i'm afraid i don't understand your response. i was saying that sometimes compassionate silence is worth more than all the platitudes in the world. i in no way meant to imply that ostracizing someone with any illness or disability was appropriate or acceptable. i've been thru the rounds in my family with cancer, paralysis, etc.. from my point of view, being there to listen, having a sense of humor, and not treating the person actually going thru the situation differently is the best way to go. i realize everyone handles things differently, and some people simply can not handle illness. i just feel a comfortable silence is better than empty words any day.

  • In reply to Riki Shiffler:

    silence is healing. spiritual companionship is something of an artform. important in times like these. thanks for your post, riki. it's helpful when people jump in and moderate/clarify and support each other. xo

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    It is a relief to hear that I am not the only one who gets furious when given the explanation that the loss of a loved one to cancer is all part of "the plan". I have always felt like I was alone in that club, and it is a lonely place to be. When someone tells me that my mother died a slow, painful death, at entirely too young an age (she had just turned 54), due to pancreatic cancer, I just want to beat the ever living shit out of them! I am not religious, but if I were, I hope that I would not be so callous as to chalk up the loss of one's mother to some big, uncaring scheme for the greater good.

  • In reply to Charla Parker:

    so sorry for your loss. it's terrible. if we told people who haven't experienced it what it was really like, they would vomit. it's horrifying the way it literally rips people to shreds emotionally, spiritually and physically. xo, charlia.

  • Nicole:
    Thank you for this article! My friend posted it on Facebook.
    Cancer is a horrible thing. I'm sorry you lost your mom to it. I haven't lost anyone in my family to it, but I know plenty of other people who have struggled with it: some have won, some have lost.
    Thank you, too, for your defense of God. Many people have difficulty understanding this concept. We just live in a stupid fallen sick world. I don't believe God chooses like that either. He allows us to go through different struggles. And it drives me absolutely nuts when judgemental, self-righteous "christians" make statements about why God is sending hurricanes and earthquakes to specific areas. It's just our job to show love and concern and respect for each other.

  • In reply to Karen:

    glad you liked it. i means a lot and i hope that your friend has support from non-idiot, "non-cologist" parents ( that's what cancer parents call non-cancer parents), who get it and can be there for them. loooooooooooove that you are reading. thanks. xo

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    My grandpa passed away from cancer.. The doctors gave him 4 months and he died in 2 weeks =( I miss him! Cancer is the devil! And I to cant stand his fan club!

  • In reply to DebraPastrana:

    big love to you. cancer also lies and steals time. cancer is an asshole.

  • Nicole,
    I certainly agree with almost everything you said. My dad was diagnosed with cancer in April 2006 and died June 15, 2006, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer the same week as my dad and passed away about 9 months after my dad, you think my dad's funeral and wake didn't scare her????!!!!! CANCER SUCKS THE BIG WAZZOOO!!!! But, I don't believe for a second that our LOVING God is out destroying gay people. I think that that was just a mean thing to say. I know a lot of gay people who are a lot nicer that hetero people and I'd rather be around them. So, please, don't bash anyone....it's just not OUR place to judge, that's God's job and no one else's! I'm just sayin.

  • In reply to Jackie:

    jackie,....ARE YOU SERIOUS? ugh. guess that wave of sarcasm didn't translate well into print, which is strange, because i'm known for being a gay loving smart ass. oh dear.....FACE PALM. i heart you anyway. i do. i understand your confusion. are we all good now?

  • In reply to Nicole Knepper:

    Nikki, yeah I was serious, since I live in Ohio (originally from south suburbs of Chicago - grew up in the same area as Mary Tyler Mom and her family - know one of her sisters) I had never heard of you or read anything of yours before. I just know what I read and you were judging (the way I read it). I had NO IDEA of your gay loving smart ass!!!!! Just as long as we understand each other, no gay bashing, we're good!!!! Thanks for "listening".

  • In reply to Jackie:

    you are not alone. you just posted it here. i got a few emails as well. i was surprised. i'm known for being a freaky smart ass and i was sad that anyone would think i would say something so ignorant. xo

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    In reply to Jackie:

    Amen!

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    FINALLY! Someone talking about the God that I knew as a child. Thanks Nikki! Love you Woman! Cancer sucks!

  • In reply to Tara Mack:

    i'm quite certain. as a matter of fact i'm 99.234% certain that God loves everyone.

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    Jackie- Honey- Nikki does COMEDY. she uses sarcasm A LOT! hope that helps.

  • In reply to Tara Mack:

    it's true. i am full of hot air, beans, hyperbole and sarcasm. thanks for having my back, tara. ;)

  • In reply to Tara Mack:

    Tara, thanks for the clarification!!! I had no idea who she was! I um, um thought she was a reporter (I don't know why I thought that, but I did)! Her comment just kind of jumped out at me and I hear so much of it and my new response is to anyone who judges anyone (I was judged once and I proved this person SOOOOO wrong): Only GOD has the right to judge, not you, not me only HE. What you do here on Earth is not for us to judge, that time will come between you and your God. I think it's words to live by. I'm sorry, hope I didn't offend anyone or take away ANYTHING from Mary Tyler Mom!!! I simply just love that woman, this is my second go around on hers and Donna's story (so much sobbing that I do), she owns a piece of my heart - forever and a day!

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    I just buried another uncle to cancer, but I do believe it is part of God's plan (being physically disabled myself and a fellow survivor). Cancer brought my uncle back to God, my father back to my uncle and when he passed I traveled 1500 miles, by the grace of God in this economical climate we found the funds, but He always provides. I met my siblings ages 7, 5 & 3 at the same time. I came to a concrete understanding as an adult, not a 14 year old, with my father. Those were all monumental things that this wretched disease brought about in a domino effect of actions that created almost a metamorphosis in so many people's lives and I have witnessed that with other cancer/disability situations where there is a positive and loving environment, in spite of how irritating how compliant everyone is around you. When blessings (ie. shelter, food, family, friends, moments of happiness and joy, love) are weighed against woes, remember there are usually more on the "B" list than the "C" list and if your "B" list is lacking, call your local Aging & Disability Center, church, 2-1-1, Adult Social Services and there are people there who will provide you with a support system, potential counseling resources, group meetings and so much more. There are so many of us who have chosen paths to communicate awareness, love and help others to heal or to pass, bring cheer to a sick person or even a hot meal. This terrible thing is devastating, but it also creates motivation, inspiration and many other miracles. Cancer truely sux! but every cloud really does have a lining. That is my defense for God and his plan.

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    In reply to Courtney Millan:

    Courtney, I can understand what you are saying being a spiritual person myself. It is a truly wonderful gift when a person can look at a bad situation and find the goodness in all the badness. For me personally, one of the problems when we start talking about a "plan" is that we push off all of the responsibility onto the universe instead of knowing that we are in control of our own destinies. To say there is a plan is the same as saying our lives are predetermined, in which case, what's the point in living them? I believe we are in control and in that sense, we have the ability to beat whatever is thrown at us and change our own so called "destinies" or "plans". I don't think God wants us to take jabs in the dark at his inner workings, and I definitely don't think he wants bad things to happen to us. My belief is that he wants us to have faith and trust in his love for us, and it can really be as simple as that. The next thing to do is to love back. I believe this is what you are talking about when you mention all of those good and wonderful things that came out of a horrible situation. But then, that is speculation and I could be a million times wrong; but I can appreciate what you are saying, and I also can appreciate Nikki's message. Many people get frustrated when they hear a bad situation is God's plan for us, because that type of thinking can lead to people hating God or blaming God when the reality is we just don't know what God is really up to. I feel that it's our trust, faith and love that keeps the candle burning and vice versa.
    I think you are an amazing and strong person for what you have survived and experienced, and your message of support and love is important for everyone to hear.

  • In reply to Allison Carpenter:

    well said, girl. well said.

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    Nikki, That is beautifully said. I get so damn sick of people. And cancer sucks, my dad died of it and I do not hate the universe for it. It is a by product of this world. Thanks for clarifying things for the people who will listen and care. You rock.

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    One of my favorite bible verses: "trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding" Proverbs 3:5. Now this verse doesn't say anything about a "plan", it just says to trust God and from my interpretation of the last part, it also says to not make up shit about God (pardon my French) or try to make sense of circumstances in relation to God; just TRUST God. Other then that, LOVE. Love the heck out of everybody, including yourself, and especially people suffering from this awful awful disease! I lost my grandma to it this last March, my Aunt Ilene passed away from a vicious battle with it almost 10 years ago, and my grandpa died quickly (cancer can be a ninja like that) from it 15 years ago. My heart is with anyone suffering from this disease and the families who have to deal with the tremendous pain and exhaustion that comes along with it. Peace and love!

  • allison. love what you said. romans 12:2 - "do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing ofyour mind." we all need to renew our minds and think differently about things so that when we do open our mouths, we don't sound like marble mouthed jackloads. for real. cancer can totally suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck it.

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    Nicole,

    You have amplified our voice, us mothers who have lost a child to cancer. Bravo for this blog. I lost my 8 year old son almost 4 years ago. You said it all PERFECT. BALD KIDS ROCK!

    Monique

  • In reply to monique:

    i like bald kids. i've known too many of them. seen a few die and a few live. wish your story was the latter, monique. i do. you are welcome for writing this. i couldn't help it. xo

  • Once again Nikki you've hit the nail on the head and said it so well. Wish sometimes I could hit other people on the head! Cancer does suck and it shows no mercy whether you believe in God or not. Cancer is not part of some great plan it is just science and has nothing to do with faith. I am a firm believer in God and I also do not believe that he is sending tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes as some form of punishment for anything POPPYCOCK!!! Thanks for speaking out! Once again YOU ROCK!

  • In reply to Vickiesb:

    thanks, vickie. you said, "poppycock," which reminds me of my grandma who kicked serious ass. xo

  • Sorry about your dad. And mom. I lost my mom two years ago to cancer and it does, indeed, suck.

    But this is frankly why I'm happy to be an atheist. When my mom was suffering and dying and everyone was asking, "Why her, why now, how can this be?" I didn't have to wrestle with any of the "why's." I think you can drive yourself crazy assigning human attributes to an all-powerful being and then coming up with various reasons for why he/she/it intervenes or doesn't intervene at various moments. I'm okay knowing that life just is what it is.

  • In reply to PartlySunny:

    i agree with "life is just what it is." totally. my spiritual beliefs aren't religious. i can't even explain them. i have crazy respect for everyone's own opinion, even when i don't agree. we are all working on getting to where we need to/want to/should be in this life. thanks for reading and i am truly sorry about your mom. losing a parent is so bizarre. just such a gaping hole in your life. big love to you.

  • Cancer does suck. Truer words have never been spoken. It rips families apart and even if the patient is lucky enough to beat it, their lives are changed forever.

    I have seen MTM's post pop up every day on your feed and every day I stare at it, get a lump in my throat and try to decide if I'm going to read it, but I'm embarrassed to say I have not. It's not that I don't care, on the contrary just seeing the title each morning is enough to put a brick in my stomach all day, I can't bring myself to read the details. This woman is facing my worst nightmare and my thoughts are with her and her little girl, as well as anyone else who's life has been shaken by this senseless disease, this month and every month. I hope someday they find a cure.

  • In reply to SurvivingFive:

    she faced it with courage. even knowing it doesn't have a happy ending, i'm compelled to keep reading and know that i'll be transformed by knowing her story.

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    Thank you for writing this.

  • In reply to Bobbi Clark:

    thank you for reading this. i mean it.

  • Once again, you've nailed it. Great post...maybe your best and most important to date. It has touched us all...and taken away wonderful people for no reason...yes cancer sucks. Now is not the time to blame but to work together doing whatever it takes to find a cure.

  • In reply to Carole Kuhrt Brewer:

    thanks for your support. i mean that. i blog from the heart and what comes out is unfiltered and my opinion. i can dig the respectful disagreements and attempts to enlighten me, but i think people need to realize that the purpose of a blog is to express passions and opinions.

  • as they say.. "things happen for a reason.." may be easy for someone who is not in the situation but always good bothways..

  • In reply to pickaweb:

    i like to say things reveal a reason, but that's me. xo

  • My younger brother just succumbed after a long battle with a rare form of cancer. I think I took it worse than he did. The young handsome (the girls loved him) athletic guy I used to roughhouse with as a kid was wasting away before my very eyes. Fortunately he had lots of company throughout and his caregivers treated him like family. He never lost his intelligence, his wit and his kindness. My brother was a lovable person, and he bore his fate with much grace and without complaint. I hate this disease. I curse my lack of intellect to not know the secrets to shutting it down before it metastizes out of control. So many centuries of study and really very little progress. We catch it earlier but are still basically cluleless as to causes and treatments that don't involve cutting or powerful toxic drugs. My heart goes out to all that have lost friends and family members this way. I won't say I know how you feel because no one really does in times of sorrow and loss.

  • In reply to ChicagoExpatriate:

    so sorry about your brother. i truly am. you are correct, very little progress. my dad's oncologist told us that it's basically a crapshoot. they are still guessing.

  • I partially agree. Cancer DOES suck. But you are NOT defending God when you say cancer is not of God. ALL things are of God. To day otherwise is to say God is not all knowing, all seeing, all understanding, and not in total control.

    So sorry to be one of the few holdouts, but God is in control of all, including illness and disease also. To say otherwise would be to diminish Him.

    Now that is not to say that God is not understanding of our pain and suffering, He is. And, while it may sometimes be hard to see how this could ever be part of His plan, the deal is this. We are incapable of fully understanding God. Suffering and death was not part of man's destiny until man sinned (see story of Adam and Eve in Genesis).

    The combination of man's acts of sinfulness as we are tempted into by evil are the cause of all suffering. Satan, otherwise known as the tempter, has been given a certain amount of authority on earth to carry on according to his ways. But he ultimately has lost the battle.

    God wins and you win, as long as we all use terrible events and illnesses to ultimately come closer to God - not driving Him away by saying this has nothing to do with God. Everything has something to deal with God about, even evil.
    Love in Christ, AP

  • In reply to AP2CT:

    I call BS on this one.

  • In reply to CodyJarrett:

    and that is your right. either way, i stand by my writing. xo thanks for checking in.

  • In reply to AP2CT:

    thanks for checking in. all sides of the issue are welcome.

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    Sorry but I don't believe that garbage about "God's plan". To say God is all this and all that would be to say god is love AND hate. God is good AND evil. Not true. At least the God I know. Is the God you serve evil in any way? Is he vengeful? Does he do mean things to little girls just to prove a point? Does he teach us lessons through the pain of a child? You can't say God is "all anything" without including the bad. I am a Christian and I do NOT approve this message.

    My point is that you can't attribute ANY human trait to God. At all. Ever. God is simply God. He didn't give Donna cancer. He didn't choose to punish that sweet, innocent little girl for any reason at all. Cancer choose Donna and it was a freak mutation that was no fault of anyone or anything other than evolution. God's "plan" is simply that we are brought to earth to live with free will and die. That's it. Our destination may be set but our journey has been allowed us. God doesn't have our lives minute by minute laid out for us. To say that he does would take free will away. And that would be contradictory to what the Bible and Christianity teaches. How can God know what decision we will choose if we have the free will to make it? Which is it? Destiny? Or free will? It simply doesn't make sense to believe both. No, God has no plan for us other than to live and to die. Anything we do in between is on us, and is the true test.

  • In reply to KristieMarie:

    we agree. God isn't human. God is God. i have no idea what God is, but i'm almost certain (almost) that God isn't much of a planner. God would know better. :)

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    Yes. Cancer totally sucks. We've had many battles and scares in our family.
    I highly recommend reading Cancer on 5 Dollars a Day by Robert Schimmel. Funny and poignant.

  • In reply to Faith Wolfe:

    thank you for the suggestion, faith. i'm going to get that book. xo

  • God did it. And the Bible and Christianity don't teach freewill, although many christian churches do.

    That said, cancer suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.

    word.

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