Suffering from cancer is probably the hardest stumbling block to faith—even more so the suffering and death of children. This book is very honest about it and does not hide the truth about cancer and what it does to the body. But the second half of the book deals specifically with the question of how faith can help us to cope with cancer. It addresses the question of what good could ever come out of suffering with cancer for our souls—even out of a child’s suffering.
There is no other book on the market that discusses what we know about cancer and about the suffering cancer victims go through in the context of religion. The Catholic contribution to this discussion is the emphasis on the human person, a unity of body and soul. Does the person die when the body dies, or does the soul survive? Yet, most of what is written about cancer ends when the patient dies. That’s not a promising perspective for people who were stricken by cancer. True, there are some great advances in cancer research, as the book explains, but what to do when the medical approach has been exhausted, as happens so often? The book tries to also reach non-Catholics by leading them carefully to an opening for the religious dimension of suffering (but I also show that Catholicism has the best perspective on that – for instance, redemptive suffering and the examples of the saints).
The book gives readers the basics of what we know about what cancer does to the body (they should not have to read another book to get that basic information, and those other books would most likely be very detailed and unreadable). But at the same time, this book also tells them – which is kind of unique - how we deal with the religious dimension of all of this, questions such as “Why me,” “Is something wrong between God and me,” “How God can allow cancer,” “What is the purpose of suffering from cancer,” “How can I make my suffering meaningful.”
All of this is tied together with the true story of Allyson, who died of cancer when she was only 11 years old. She is the connecting thread between all the chapters. She shows us through the story of her short life on earth how her courageous battle with cancer only seemed to be a lost battle, but did end up to be a victory of a different kind. She suffered her illness with the sweet bewilderment that only children can exhibit, and yet her battle is an example and model for adults too. There seems to be so little this young child could do on earth, and yet we believe there must have been a reason for that child to walk the earth for so short a time. That reason can only be found in God. Many who read about Allyson’s story will be deeply moved and hopefully see their own suffering now with different eyes.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Fr. Brian Kennedy CSsR
A. THE SCIENTIFIC FACTS
1. Breaking News
When the News Breaks
Is Cancer a Death Sentence?
Is Cancer Old News?
2. Tools in the War on Cancer
3. The Root Cause of Cancer
The Genetics of Normal Cells
From Normal Cells to Cancer Cells
Mutagens and Carcinogens
The Genetics of Cancer Cells
4. Are We Winning the War on Cancer?
It Depends on Whom You Ask
It Depends on How You Count
A Miracle Cure for Cancer?
Early Detection Is Key
Ahead of Detection: Prevention
B. THE RELIGIOUS FACTS
5. How Do We Cope?
Is Cancer God’s Doing?
Stages of Grief
6. Can Faith Help Us with Cancer?
To Whom Shall We Go?
The Journey Home
The Butterfly Story ==============>>
7. The Mystery of Suffering
Suffering for Others
A Wounded Healer
"Dr. Verschuuren offers the reader a two part exposition on cancer; part one dealing with the medical science behind tumor biology, diagnosis and treatment and part two dealing with the spiritual implications of a terminal disease from a profoundly Christian perspective. The common thread between the two halves of the book involves an account of the life of 10 year old Allyson suffering from osteosarcoma and her family as they accompany her on her journey.
The reader will find the journey well worth their while. I highly recommend the book to those looking for a brief but thorough layman’s review of cancer diagnosis and treatment as well as to those readers looking for answers to the more profound existential questions that a cancer diagnosis inevitably raises."
— John (Jack) I. Lane, M.D.
Radiologist at the Mayo Clinic
Professor of Radiology, School of Medicine, Rochester, MN
"Read this book if you want to get the facts of cancer right, but in the context of a child’s journey back to God. Share this book if you want science and religion to join in reverence before the bond of love between a highly competent medical staff, personified by the pretty oncologist, and a child who says “yes” to the staggering treatments which they offer in the hope of saving her life."
— Fr. Brian Kennedy, CSsR
Former Missionary to the Dominican Republic
Pastor of St. Matthew Church in Windham, NH
"This book is a great Catholic contribution to the discussion of what cancer can do to body and soul. Both light and darkness hover over the troubled waters of cancer. Cancer is certainly a place where body and soul meet. Combined with the very moving personal story of Allyson and her heart wrenching cancer treatments, the book leads the reader to the important considerations about the meaning of life with which the book concludes. This is a solid “Catholics Living with Cancer” book that does not exist yet. Buy it, read it, and learn from it."
Psychologist by training