Thursday, May 5, 2011

Of Cancer & Christianity Part 2

Everyone knows someone who has suffered from cancer. My mom endured a horrific year with brain cancer that took her life in her mid-forties. The worst suffering I have ever seen, so far. That is not being cynical, but pragmatic: One out of three Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Cancer is responsible for one of four deaths. These are not good odds.
I will say that while watching my mother go through cancer induced dementia was the most painful episode to date in my life, it was also one of the most spiritually powerful times as well. God was there in a tangible way; I had recently been converted and was living in a Christian commune in Honolulu when a phone call came that changed everything. Within 24 hours I was standing in a southern California hospital hearing a fatal diagnosis from the Doctor. But I was not alone, the Lord touched my whole family and many of them came to Christ.
I was able to baptize both my mom & dad in their pool.
That leads me to this remarkable story that I have been following....

The story of Christopher Hitchens, author of:
'God is not Great, How Religion Poisons Everything'

I recently posted the story of Christopher & Peter Hitchens, brothers on totally opposite spiritual spectrums. Christopher, a raving (but brilliant) atheist. Peter, a Christian author and apologist in his own right.
See how Peter made peace with his brother:

However, Christopher has stage 4 cancer that is ravaging his body. Now, a curious twist to the story has further captured my attention. His former debate opponent is a doctor and is now his hope for recovery!

Read this & pray:

Atheist Christopher Hitchens turns to evangelical Christian doctor in his fight against cancer


The last person you might expect Christopher Hitchens, one of the world’s best known atheists, to turn to for help would be an evangelical Christian.

But a highly religious doctor might be the only individual who can help the author and journalist who is suffering from cancer.

Dr Francis Collins, the former director of the National Human Genome Research Project was one part of the team which developed techniques to map out the entire human DNA make-up is using Hitchens as a guinea pig for a new treatment.

Christopher Hitchens
Dr Francis Collins

Friends: Atheist Christopher Hitchens, left, is being treated by Christian Dr Francis Collins using a new technique of DNA mapping to tackle the mutated DNA directly

Hitchens, author of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, has had his genome mapped out in its entirety by taking DNA from healthy tissue and from his cancerous tumour.

On each sample six billion DNA matches were run, in order to catalogue the mutations in the cancerous cells which had given Hitchens cancer of the oesophagus.

Then in the New Year Dr Collins found a mutation and went about tackling the DNA directly.

He discovered that a drug already existed to treat the particular mutation and now Hitchens takes just one tablet a day, rather than undergoing gruelling chemotherapy.

Hitchens, 61, told London’s Daily Telegraph: ‘I’m an experiment.

‘These are early stages, but in theory it should attack the primary site of the tumour.

god is not Great book cover
Language of God

Authors: The duo have both written books about God. Hitchens said of Dr Collins: 'I won’t say he doesn’t pray for me, because I think he probably does.'

‘If that does happen, it won’t just be good news for me, it will be very exciting in the general treatment of cancer.’

The unlikely alliance between the Christian and Atheist formed when the pair used to debate each other about whether God existed, leading to the two becoming friends.

Dr Collins, who is director of America’s National Institutes of Health, has authored his own book on religion’s role in medicine: The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

Hitchens added: ‘It is a rather wonderful relationship.

‘I won’t say he doesn’t pray for me, because I think he probably does; but he doesn’t discuss it with me.

Hitchens, a prominent Atheist, he refused to change his views on religion even after his diagnosis in June 2010.‘He agrees that his medical experience does not include anything that could be described as a miracle cure.’

He said he finds the new treatment very exciting.

‘At least it spares me some of the boredom of being a cancer patient because what I’m going through is very absorbing and positively inspiring,’ he said. ‘But if it doesn’t work, I don’t know what they could try next.’

He added that during his treatment he was constantly contacted by other atheists sending him positive messages.

‘I get a huge number of letters and emails every day, a lot of them from people I don’t know, and they quite often say things like, “If anyone can beat this, it’s you”, “Cancer is a fool to take you on”… Jaunty, upbeat stuff like that.

'A lot of people, because of my contempt for the false consolations of religion, think of me as a symbolic public opponent of that in extremis. And sometimes that makes me feel a bit alarmed, to be the repository of other people’s hope.’

This could be a real set up from the Lord. Stay tuned.


terry frost said...

great piece Chip. Amazing the difference in the pictures. One lost and sad, the other happy and full of life & hope.

Anonymous said...

I will definitely be watching and praying as this unfolds.