Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher

The agony of lung cancer

I spoke with my mother this morning on the way to work, and she was telling me in detail how much my sister Ruthie is suffering from the heavy chemotherapy she’s on to fight her lung cancer. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to think of my beautiful sister, who was so healthy only a few months ago, so ravaged by this disease, and by the extraordinary measures doctors are having to take to cure her. Nobody should have to go through this pain and suffering, either themselves or standing by as a family member or dear friend struggles through it.
I said goodbye to Mama when I pulled into the garage at work. I noticed a man standing by his car, fiddling with his keys, smoking a cigarette. Every time I see someone smoking nowadays, I think, If you only knew what I know. That is, if you only knew how hideous lung cancer is, what it does to your body, and what the treatment does to your body, you would put those damn things down. True, Ruthie never smoked, and she still got it, but hers is a relatively rare case. The CDC attributes 90 percent of male lung cancer deaths, and 80 percent of female lung cancer deaths, to smoking.
Please don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit, and if you don’t, please don’t smart. And don’t smoke around your children. You really, really don’t want to be dealing with this disease.

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Gerard Nadal

posted March 31, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Though our disagreements can be rather pointed and even hot at times, please be assured of our prayers for you, your sister and family. Cancer, in one form or another has taken the lives of almost all of my family in the past two generations. We’re intimately familiar with the suffering that comes with this disease.
God Bless

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Mere Catholic

posted March 31, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Rod, I will hold your dear sister very closely in prayer over the Easter Triduum. Cancer is a beast and sometimes the chemo is even a larger one. I hope that God in His mercy will ease her sufferings. I am so sorry that she is going through this, and in turn, you and all her family. May God bless you all.

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posted March 31, 2010 at 3:49 pm

As desperate as her battle seems, it must be fought, for there remains hope for success. As long as she is willing to go on, hope remains. As long as she has strength for the next day, hope remains.

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posted March 31, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Do you notice those numbers? 10 percent of MALE lung cancer deaths are in nonsmokers, but 20 percent of FEMALE lung cancer deaths are in nonsmokers. Something is at work here; there is a differential between men and women, and we don’t know what it is.
When my mom, a lifelong nonsmoker, got lung cancer, the world seemed very “random” to me for a while. I thought we knew what caused lung cancer–but I was wrong. Then I had a revelation: It is not random. I refuse to believe that God allows just random things to happen. The laws of science apply. All the time. Everywhere. There IS a scientific reason why Ruthie and my mom got lung cancer. But, with our current scientific knowledge…we just don’t know what it is.
I often think of the poor slobs in Europe during the time of the Black Death. It seemed random to them, too, because they didn’t know about germ theory, or rats and fleas. So it looked random.

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Heritage Hills

posted March 31, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Rod, perhaps you should have gone over to that guy in the garage and flat-out gently said to him exactly what you’ve just written. it might change his habits—and his life.

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posted April 1, 2010 at 10:39 am

That smoker wouldn’t have listened to you. In fact, he would’ve just been irratated and probably smoked more.
My mom passed away from lung cancer last year. She smoked for nearly 40 years, but had quit almost 20 years ago. She refused to believe that her lung cancer was caused from smoking.
I also went through wanting to tell every smoker I saw what could be in store for them. My sister still smokes, even after seeing what our mother went through. For my mother it was a physically and emotionally painful ending (much to do with adverse reactions to medications). But, logic cannot override the addiction. My mom had only quit smoking because she fell in love with a man who had lost his first wife from lung cancer, and she didn’t want him to have to go through that again. Love is stronger than logic.

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