Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Faith to Fight

There is always a lot of talk of God and faith on the cancer floor. I guess that is to be expected. Some pray for God's intervention, the miracle that saves the life of their child. Others pray for God's strength, to help them survive and deal with the inevitable.

I was given a lot of "advice", telling me the correct way to feel, act, and respond toward God. But parents need to handle these situations in whatever manner they can. There is not a "right" or "wrong" way.

I saw many parents truly acting out the phrase "placing it all in God's hands". They had a peace that God would work all things out, and guide the doctors to make the right decisions.

I never questioned their peace. It was real. I could see it in their eyes. Unfortunately, I never experienced it. What I felt was an intense fire, a need to fight. I needed to act. I needed to battle this monster for my son. I needed to talk to every doctor, every patient, every researcher. I needed to understand the options, understand the treatments, argue and debate the different scenarios. I could not accept that the closest hospital was automatically the best hospital...that the oncologist on call was the best doctor...that the insurance approved protocol was the best procedure. I needed to find the best options. Several people told me this showed a lack of faith, that I needed to trust that God has provided the best doctors. They said I needed to stop searching and questioning. I received intense criticism for my actions, much of it from people very close to me.

But I do not think I was wrong. Nor do I think this was a lack of faith. You need to follow your heart. There are times when God wants us to sit back and trust. But there are also times when He expects us to fight. The correct answer is known only by you. No one can tell you how you should respond.

My faith went through a lot of changes during this experience. Many have told me that they know God's will, but I believe they are deceiving themselves. Many have accused me of losing my faith. But I disagree. My faith is not the same as before, but I would suggest it is actually much stronger. And I would suggest that it is much more real.

All doctors are not created equal. Nor are all hospitals. There are many options out there. Some very good options are not even available yet in the United States. Cancer is a fight without any rules. The truth of cancer is that, if you talk to 10 doctors, you'll get 20 opinions. No one really knows the right answers (if they did, we would have a cure). God does give peace. But He also gives intelligence. He gives the desire to fight. He gives the ability to contact research facilities around the world. As Galileo said after being arrested by the church for his scientific writings, "I do not feel obligated to believe that the God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect, intended us to forgo their use".

As I was lectured by those attacking my "lack of faith", I always pictured God in heaven. I pictured Him saying, "I gave you the intellect. I gave you ability. I gave you power. I gave you strength. It is now in your hands. What more do you want from Me?" Their criticism only pushed me to fight harder, to search further.

I always believed Tyler would beat this. But I also knew I had an obligation. I had to fight for options, for knowledge, for treatments. I needed to know the truth, and to discuss and debate the decisions, to break through the stone walls doctors built around themselves. These actions are not contrary to faith. In fact faith is a verb, therefore it requires action. To fight against insurmountable obstacles requires faith. To search for every conceivable option requires faith. To act on the belief that God has endowed us with the ability to find the cure to save our children requires faith. Fighting does not deny faith. In fact, I would say it requires faith to fight.

Tyler is alive and strong. I have been told it was God's will, and that nothing I did changed anything. I have been told it was the quite, passive faith other others that saved him -- in spite of my actions. That may be true. But I saw great faith in the families of Brett, Rob, Cameron, Nathan, Trey, and Stef. And I saw a tremendous fight to survive. But they did not. Why? What went wrong? The truth is that nothing went "wrong". They died because cancer sucks. Cancer kills. And we have failed to fight hard enough to find the cure.
So we keep fighting, and we keep the faith. At times we win and rejoice. Other times we lose and weep. Sometimes our faith is changed. And sometimes that change does not fit neatly into religious categories. But that does not make the faith any less real.


Anonymous said...

Amen to that!

The Timbrooks

Laura said...

Amen - very well said. And I believe your faith shines brilliantly in all your posts.

Anonymous said...

You do what you need to do and feel how you need to feel to surive. Only you know what works for you. As long as you are talking to God in some way, it will help you through lifes battles.

Anonymous said...

You do what you need to do and feel how you need to feel to surive. Only you know what works for you. As long as you are talking to God in some way, it will help you through lifes battles.

The Smith Family said...

We Agree....Amen. Amen!!

silvia.myers said...

WOW!!! You have been blessed, you have been touched by God! Know it in your heart that God is looking down and saying to you "You have done well"!!!

Renee' said...

Wow! So well said. You were truly given a gift Kyle. Your words are truly inspiring. You have no idea how many times I get on to this blog and read what you have written and just sit and cry but also feel so inspired at the same time. I have talked to other J5 nurses about your blog and we all agree...you NEED to write a book! You could help inspire SOOO many other people going through similiar struggles.
It is so good to hear how great Tyler is doing. I'm sorry I missed him on the unit at Christmas time but I had a pt that was showing off one of his stuffed animals that Tyler gave him and he was very proud of it:)
Take care and tell Tyler and Kathy I said "hello".
Renee', J5 RN

Anonymous said...

Well said. I agree with the last person...you need to put this all in a book.

connie prutting said...

My thoughts exactly!!

Mom said...


This is what Tyler suffered for. You must shout this experinece to all who will hear. A book is a great idea.

I think of the people who came to Jesus to be healed. Everyone around them tried to get them to go away and not bother Him. But they persisted. It was their belief, faith and persistence that resulted in their healing.

God Is Great.

Love, Mom

Nana Quinlog said...

I was deeply touched by the strength of your faith. I could never imagined how you overthrown the obstacles in your life. Keep the faith!!!