This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

How atheism helped me deal with cancer

Last year I was diagnosed with osteo-sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. I was fifteen years old at the time and went through treatment for about nine months. This treatment included chemotherapy as well as several surgeries including a transplant of my right clavicle with surgical cement and, later, a donor bone.

When I was going through treatment I noticed that many of my fellow patients at the Seattle Children's Hospital would pray and cling to their faith to help them through the difficult times in their lives. Which is well and good, but I also found similar relief in my secular beliefs. I don't want to put them down for looking to their religion for comfort in a very difficult time on their life, only to express how I found joy in my lack of religion.

I found it very comforting to know with a reasonable amount of certainty that I was not being punished by some sort of divine figure for my actions. I loved knowing that it was just some sort of cell mutation when I was growing, rather than a punishment from an uncontrollable source. I felt a lot more in control knowing that I just had a cellular mistake, and feeling in control while going through cancer is hard to do, but a great relief when achieved. I felt in control because I had an outstanding medical team and trusted my doctors and trusted their knowledge of my disease and knew they would do everything they could to cure me.

When I would have conversations with my Christian grandparents and they would tell me that only God could heal, I would feel bewildered and found no comfort in their words. It was because of the trust I had for in doctors that I was able to find comfort, and any attempt to say that only a god could heal me only left me feeling depressed. It was my secular beliefs and trust in my outstanding doctors that gave me the the will to get through my harsh treatment.

Because of my beliefs I felt lucky to be alive at all, and even though life was hard at the time, I still loved knowing that I got to experience life, and consider myself lucky, even though I had to go through a hard experience such as cancer at such a young age. I enjoyed every day knowing that I was in such a magnificent world even though it can be cruel at times, and because of this knowledge, not some belief in a god, I was able to find comfort while going through cancer treatment.

I am now sixteen years old and am cancer-free, in remission and am looking forward to attending school again in the fall.

TAGGED: ATHEISM, MEDICINE


MORE BY aidan young

MORE

Comments

Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment