What role does Religion play for those dealing with cancer?
Generally speaking, there are 3 types of 'Faith'. One is the belief in a God (or some other figurehead of an organized religion). Another is 'no Faith', those being Atheists. Finally there are those who aren't sure.
At 'Cancer Crossing', the question of cancer and religion comes up in almost every interview. It is probably one of the most complex aspects of every interview as well.
Some feel that God has struck them or a loved one down with cancer because their faith had not been strong enough. They did not attend enough services or they had impure thoughts, so they are deserving of such bad things as cancer.
'I deserve this.'
Some feel they followed the teachings of the faith yet got cancer. They feel as though God has done them wrong and their faith has been shaken. They wonder why did they put so much time and energy into their religion and in return they get cancer? Shouldn't you be rewarded with good fortune (health, happiness, income, etc..) if you do good by the Church?
'Why did I bother?'
Some didn't participate in organized religion prior to cancer and with cancer, they still don't. There is a certain 'matter of factness' to these people. See a doctor and get it fixed. If it can't be fixed, take care of your business and prepare.
'It is what it is.'
Others feel that 'it is God's will'. They believe that God has a plan for everyone and there is a reason they have been chosen to deal with cancer. They pray for better health but also pray that when it is time for them to leave this life and be with their God, they be granted mercy and their loved ones left behind celebrate their life and not mourn their loss.
'Peace be with you.'
Many people don't know what to believe. They didn't know what to believe before cancer and with cancer, still don't know. They look across all religions for something they can identify with. They try to reason with themselves that this life is all there is and there is nothing in the hereafter but eventually circle back to 'What if...?'
Ultimately, people are looking for reconciliation. They want a sense that their life had a purpose. Most don't feel they need to leave behind a 'Grand Persona' that will be talked about in the history books forever. In the big picture of life, most are content with the smaller things. To know they have imparted some wisdom they have accumulated over the years to others along the way, leaves one with a sense of richness.
'I deserve this.',
'Why did I bother?',
'It is what it is.',
'Peace be with you.'
The Ultimate Answer may only be known by those who have passed on before us but while we are here, living this life, we all try and find our own way as best we can. There is a saying, 'onward through the fog'. That's a good saying.