In this life there are many things to prepare for, but the most important is for our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. I will take you with me, should you want to come along, on my personal journey to the door which will lead to eternity, through which every soul must pass. Where the angel of death waits to ask the all important question, "Are you prepared for the Kingdom?"

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Location: Anacortes, Washington, United States

Two years ago I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was one of the fortunate ones who survived surgery along with chemo/radiation treatments. Recently, it was discovered that the cancer had returned and although I am again on chemotherapy, in all probability I have perhaps one more year to live. During these last months I would like to share what I have learned about the most important thing we'll ever do in this life and that is, prepare for the kingdom of God.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Making the Choice

About a week ago I was faced with making a very important choice. I guess you could say it was a choice which would determine the length of my life.

After putting my mind and body through about a month of rapid physical decline, I needed to decide if I truly wanted to spend the rest of this short time I have left in this horrible condition. I am speaking mainly of the side effects of chemotherapy as well as the additional problems created by my collapsed lung episode.

I woke up last Friday morning knowing it was time to decide just how I wanted to die. Was I going to take this into my own hands and continue therapy or was I going to let God select the perfect day for my departure and allow myself to experience "quality life."

What really made the choice clear was the fact that under these conditions I could not have a spiritual life and that was simply unacceptable. How could I give up everything that I had focused my life on for the past three years? Prayer and contemplation would cease to exist for me because this treatment not only kills cancer cells, but brain cells, causing the mind to become incapable of thinking or focusing. How could I allow my body to deteriorate to the point of not being able to get out of bed, which would mean no more daily Liturgy, no more daily receiving of the Sacred Mysteries. And for what? To possibly live a few months longer. If this is the type of life I would be living, then the answer is obvious. NO MORE TREATMENT!

I refuse to give up the only things that will prepare me for the Kingdom. This body is going to die and go the way of all flesh, but my soul is going to live and it must be nourished until my last breath.

Although this was an obvious choice, it was still a little difficult to make. In our humanity it is still not easy to accept death. But this is what makes our living life only to prepare for the Kingdom so vitally important. Nurturing the spiritual life of the soul is the only thing that matters especially when death is just around the corner. There is nothing else to contemplate. Denial is not an option. This is reality. Let us face it with faith and hope in the One who says, trust Me. I will never leave you. "In my Father's house are many rooms, I go to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you may also be."

There is still much for me to do before that special day arrives. So I need to get myself up and functional again. Then and only then can I hear the words of the Lord. Then and only then can I respond to his Divine Will.

"Let those who have ears to hear, hear."


Blogger Abbot Joseph said...

I would just like to note that Laura's decision is within the moral teaching of the Catholic Church. Following are two pertinent excerpts from Church teaching, the first from the US Catholic Bishops, and the second from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican. In Laura's case, the "remedy" of chemotherapy cannot prevent death.

“One may legitimately refuse a treatment because it would itself create an impairment imposing new serious burdens or risks on the patient. This decision to avoid the new burdens or risks created by a treatment is not the same as directly intending to end life in order to avoid the burden of living in a disabled state.”

“When death is imminent and cannot be prevented by the remedies used, it is licit in conscience to decide to renounce treatments that can only yield a precarious and painful prolongation of life... This rejection of a remedy is…to be regarded as a simple acceptance of the human condition or a desire to avoid the application of medical techniques that are disproportionate to the value of the anticipated results.”

2:05 PM  
Blogger Rob Grossman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Rob Grossman said...

I'm not a Catholic Scholar by any stretch of the imagination but to add to what abbot joseph said: It is my understanding, and belief that chemotherapy does not always even "extend" life while often it contributes to the deterioration of whatever life one has left. I see no need for religious conflict of any sort with the decision to NOT continue with chemotherapy. This cancer may progress very slowly anyway. I applaud your courage to decide to choose "quality" over "quantity". Especially since "quantity" is such an unknown in your case anyway Laura.



4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whew.. Amen to all you have said today, Laura. What wisdom and courage.

All we truly have is today-- right now-- anyhow. Some of us won't even wake up tomorrow, right? I'll be praying for your quality time.

For whatever its worth, I offer what our Pastor tells RCIA folks. He calls bodily death the third stage of human life. The first stage is fetal life. We are reluctant to leave the womb because our world was known, yet after we sample the much much greater freedom and joy in our second stage of human life, not a one of us would opt to return to the cramped, dark, breeze-less womb! The third stage of life, entering into eternity, is another unexperienced birth of sorts; we cannot anticipate exactly what is coming up, but no doubt as we find how much wider and freer and sweeter is that spiritual life, we would never opt to return to the earthboundness and weight and walls and limitations of human life. Sounds pretty reasonable.. Above and beyond that, who could think that the One Who created us..isn't going to be there to 'catch' us-- the ones He has asked for, died for, rose for, longed for, and waits for?

10:30 PM  
Blogger forget me not said...

I admire you Laura. Enjoy your retreat at Mt. Tabor. You are in my prayers.

8:01 AM  

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