< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: My Cancer was a Gift

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Cancer was a Gift

I just read a great article on Beliefnet.com called ‘My Cancer was a Gift’. It was written by David Wolpe who is a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.

It talks about having had cancer and visiting a man dying of the disease. They couldn’t come to any conclusions about why the man got sick, but the man ends up telling the rabbi, “At least you understand.”

The rabbi said it reminded him anew that his cancer was a gift; that as a rabbi, it validated his compassion. People knew that he really did understand. He also had noticed that when he was sick, people watched his reaction; would his faith help him? He said that feeling their eyes on him helped him realize that in sickness we are not powerless. We still have the ability to teach.

He told this man that his children and grandchildren were watching him. Here was a chance to teach his greatest lesson. They would remember much about him to be sure, but they would never forget how he died. His acceptance, his dignity, even his hope, could change their lives.

Having had cancer myself this past summer, I know what he means. I found out I had uterine cancer on a Friday the 13th of July. I taught Sunday School that Sunday, had surgery the next Wednesday and taught Sunday School the following Sunday. While I was lucky (besides the fact that they caught it really early and got it all) that I felt well enough to be up and around right away, I thought a lot about my faith and how it was important not to have a “why me” attitude or be down in the dumps. I had taught too many lessons about having a trusting and joy-filled attitude to undo it all now! I think it helped me heal faster too!

Rabbi Wolpe’s article can be found at: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/227/story_22779_1.html?WT.mc_id=NL44

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