I've wondered why Jesus still had his scars after his resurrection. I would assume they'd either be bloody and raw or so completely healed it looked like it never happened.
Lately I've felt safe with Jesus again. But not always with his Christians. In a Bible Study I'm part of (we meet on Zoom) there is a mom whose 21-year-old child also has cancer.
One of the ladies said, "I really believe that having a good attitude makes all the difference in cancer treatment," insinuating that having a positive outlook affects who lives and who dies from cancer. Phrases like that always cut my heart out. I'm instantly isolated, frightened, angry, and heartbroken. That's a lot of big emotions for a statement she said so easily.
Kinsley was ready to graduate from High School. She had been cancer-free for six years. She had everything ready to move away to college. She was funny, witty, sassy, and beautiful. When her cancer relapsed she developed sepsis. She fought it off. Was it because of her attitude? Maybe a small part. But when the sepsis returned two weeks later, it quickly consumed her. Kinsley wasn't the type to roll over and die, she already proved what a fighter she was the first time she beat cancer.
Cancer killed her because that's what cancer does.
Bailey was 18 months when she was diagnosed. I called her my sassy-pants-girl. She knew who she didn't like, what she didn't like, when she wanted it, and how. Bailey was also careful about whom she would befriend, especially at the hospital, but she and Grace were buddies. Probably because both of them loved Frozen, wore glittery skirts and huge headbands. Bailey died 11 months later.
She was a tough little girl. It wasn't her fault she died.
But "being positive" connotates that it was somehow her fault. That she just didn't want it bad enough, and that she could have controlled it if she tried hard enough.
I know people will say I'm really taking that phrase too seriously, but they probably never knew (not knew of, but actually had relationships with) seven children who later died of cancer. Maybe if they had, they'd at least be more hesitant to say a phrase like that.
Hazel was diagnosed at two-years-old with the same cancer Bailey had. Hazel beat her cancer and for two and a half years she lived as a "regular kid" with her two brothers and two sisters. She relapsed the day before she started first grade. When neuroblastoma kids relapse, there is no treatment plan. It's a throw-everything-you-have-at-it approach because that cancer has a very, very low survival rate. She went into remission again. It came back again.
Hazel was talking with her family, sleepily making jokes and telling stories up to the moment she took her last breath. She was full of life, literally, until the minute she died.
Emily had brain cancer and beat it. She had a massive scar on her head from the tumor retraction. She relapsed the same time Hazel did. She died a week before Hazel did. Grace and I went to both her friends' funerals, even though Grace was so weak from her own treatment that she could barely walk.
I just don't know how someone could think it's ok to say something so hurtful. I know it's meant to be an encouragement. I know she meant well. I also know she's probably never had to think through what that common belief actually means.
And for me, 2.5 years after Grace's bone marrow transplant, my heart wounds are still there. Some are still bleeding. Some are healed. But even the healed ones still show ghastly scars. And I used to think that was wrong. That being "healed by Jesus" meant things would go right back to the way things were, or how they "should" have been.
Yet when Jesus rose from the grave, he had a 2.0 body. He could walk through walls. But he still had the scars from his crucifixion. And I think that was probably a choice. If he could bring the dead to life, he certainly could have removed his own scars. But he didn't.I don't know what that means yet, but I do know that if Jesus still bore his scars, maybe mine are ok too. Maybe I don't need to feel so ashamed of them.
One thing I do know, it's great to be positive.
But being positive doesn't tame cancer. That raging, thieving, uncontrollable monster doesn't consider who deserves to live and who will die. It doesn't allow anyone to control it with positivity or thoughts- it can barely be controlled with toxic medicines.
Maybe as time goes on it'll hurt less to hear it. Until then, my scars are fragile and thin. And maybe that's ok.