There are Two Ways to Survive Cancer

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aaaarrrggghhh!

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aaaarrrggghhh!

I’m back. Sort of.

As I explain in this post I wrote for the National Catholic Register, I feel like a shipwreck victim who has washed up on a strange shore. I’ve been so completely immersed in that nether world of cancer treatment and fighting for my life that this normal world seems odd to me.

The values of this world are backwards to me now, more so than they already were backward to me as a practicing Christian. The physical part of cancer is all bad. Every single bit of it. It has left me dealing with a set of deficits and diminishments that will last as long as I do.

But thanks to the love of God, the spiritual side of cancer has been a remarkable gift. The Holy Spirit walked with me throughout, and I have come closer to Him than I thought possible in this life.

Here is a bit of what I wrote for the Register.

I told a friend that I feel as if I’ve been away. I feel like someone who has wintered over at the South Pole and is now peeking from behind doors at the newcomers who’ve arrived with the sun.

In truth, I have been to a different continent, but it is a continent of the mind and spirit, of enclosure and obsessive focus. The topography has nothing to do with the unexplored mountain ranges and rivers that I associate with the idea of a new continent. The unexplored areas of this new land were hospital rooms and surgical suites, doctor’s offices and pathology results.

I been fighting for my life, just as surely as any gladiator in an arena, any soldier in battle. I have been, like they are, on strange soil, someone else’s territory, guarding my back as well as my front as I sought purchase on the shaky ground under my feet, as I fought to find the way out of the nightmare.

Cancer is a fight to the death with killer cells that are, in fact, part of ourselves. Nothing will kill cancer that will not also kill us. Because cancer is us. It is our own cells from our own body, gone rogue. Something happened. Either our defenses weakened, or the cell was overwhelmed with a toxicity that almost, but didn’t quite, kill it, and it changed. The change turned it into a terrifying chimera of its old self, a frightening example of what happens to life when the breaks are taken off and one cell — one solitary cell — can multiply and migrate without limit.

Cancer is the ultimate predator. It is the ultimate parasite, taking up ever larger portions of the nutrients and space our bodies need to keep us alive. Cancer is also the ultimate suicidal maniac, that always ends up killing its host, which is to say, itself. Cancer is suicide by greed at the cellular level.

I suppose that makes it a rather elegant metaphor for the politics of greed which threaten to destroy our great nation. But that is a topic for another post.

Today I want to discuss the stunned, waking-up-from-sleep aftermath of cancer treatment.

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Cancer and Dementia are Risky Ailments in a Time of Euthanasia.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Wes Peck

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Wes Peck

I stopped off at Catholic Vote this morning to write a post adding to another post by my friend Kate O’Hare. Kate took on the questions circling cancer and euthanasia.

Cancer is one of those dread diseases that euthanasia salesmen use to convince people that the compassionate thing to do for people is to kill them. Then, they buttress this cold-blooded thought salad of an argument with claims that people are begging for the opportunity to be killed.


These arguments are based on ignorance and myth. It isn’t necessary for anyone in the Western world to die shivering and shrieking in pain. We can manage pain just fine. What is necessary is caring and love. True compassion walks the last mile with the dying and sees them home in love.

That takes work, and it can cost money. So, some folks have hatched up this death with dignity story to justify putting other people down like they were animals. But real death with dignity is to die in peace with the people you love who have walked the hard road to departure alongside you.

Here’s part of what I said about all this:

My friend Kate O’Hare recently wrote a post here at Catholic Vote discussing the question of cancer and euthanasia.

I am living with breast cancer right now, as I type. This evil movement to legalize medical murder is more pertinent to me now than ever before.

Euthanasia pushers tout medical murder as an act of “mercy,” when it is in fact the ultimate act of uncaring. I have cancer. I also am caring for my 90-year-old mother who has dementia.

I googled “undergoing cancer treatment while caring for elderly parent with dementia.” I did not get one hit. This particular combination of responsibilities doesn’t fit in “Ten Things to Do When You Have Cancer” blog posts. The only neat solutions to problems like these are evil solutions. Caregiving and dread disease are messy and complicated. They ask of a lot of us.

My situation seems ready-made for the purveyors of death and their murderous solutions for the burdens of life and love. My mother, in their bleak understanding of life, has “lived too long.” As for me, I’m good for a few rounds of treatment. But if that fails, I need to green light somebody to knock me stone dead and put the world out of my misery

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There’s a Man in My Front Yard with a Gun

Christmas at my house. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Christmas at my house. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

I want to thank each of you who has written to me with your kind words and excellent advice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers. Please continue praying. I need it.

Have a blessed and Holy Christmas this year. Remember always that you are God’s precious child.

I wrote a post about cancer and Christmas and my house for the National Catholic Register. I was thinking of each of you when I wrote it.

Here’s part of what I said:

The House district that I represented for 18 years is more than a bit incomprehensible to outsiders. And by outsiders, I mean anyone and everyone who didn’t spawn in that pond of which both I and the people I represented are from.

I remember trying to explain to another legislator why my constituents reacted to issues as they did. His constituents were constantly in a kerfuffle over whatever hot-button issue du jour was rocking the world at the time. My constituents were steady on about these things. They just trusted my judgment and let me have at it in those areas.

But there were things that they would not abide. Fortunately for me, my constituents and I were one in all this. We thought and, more importantly, felt, alike because we were woven of the same threads.

My colleague didn’t “get” this. It was opaque to him and I wasn’t sure how to explain it so that he could understand.

I thought about the forces that shaped behavior where I was from: the poverty, threat of violence, and powerful sense of community, the us-against-them attitude that kept us together and rolling. How could I explain this to my colleague for whom these things, this way of thinking and being, was alien? Finally, I hit on a metaphor.

When there’s a man in the front yard with a gun, it focuses your attention. I said.

I don’t know if I communicated adequately with my colleague, but for me it was the perfect and absolute explanation. Life has priorities and some of those priorities require all your attention. More than that, they shape your way of reacting to every other priority, and they re-order you personal hierarchy of needs, boiling away the fat and leaving you with the hard bone of whatever reality sustains you.

I am dealing with such a priority right now.

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Cancer or Not, I Know Whom I have Believed and I Trust Him.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word

This is another article I wrote for the Register. This one is about my surgery for breast cancer. I am having surgery today, beginning at 8 CST. It will run until about noon. I would appreciate your prayers, my friends. Rebecca

(Credit: Andrey Mironov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I don’t believe that anyone ever asked me what I would do if I got a bad breast biopsy result. But if they had, I’m pretty sure that feeding a sudden craving for classic rock music would not have been among my answers.

Silly me. I just didn’t know.

Monday was a hard day. My husband and I drove to Dallas and I had a biopsy on my breast. Then, we drove home. For those of you who are wondering, driving 200 miles in a Honda Fit after having had your breast rotter rooted is not a fun time.

The surgeon told me at the get-go that he thought “it” was benign. Then, he turned me over to the radiologist for a little look-see. I went into that encounter hoping that they would be able to determine that everything was good with scans. No such luck. After doing a set of mammograms, with a more hyped-up machine than the one here in OKC, the doc turned serious.

It’s funny, in a non-humorous way, how they keep doing that. They walk in all sunshine and light, then get a good scan and switch to all business. The results came in yesterday, and are a bit too technical for this post. Long story short, I’m still out there, wondering exactly how bad “it” really is; only the questions of it being harmless and of no matter have been settled. It’s not harmless, and it is not of no matter.

Next week I go under the knife. Bizarre as this sounds, I can hardly wait. I want this over with, and I want to know exactly where I stand and what I’m in for.


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God’s Blessings are Circled with Thorns, Dressed with Tenderness.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cindi Albright

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cindi Albright

I wrote this post about family and thankfulness for the National Catholic Register.

Here’s part of what I said:

God’s blessings are circled with thorns, dressed with responsibility and laden with tenderness.

God’s blessings are always blessings of love. St. Paul told us that “faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Everything else — our achievements, our missions for the Church, and our many toys — will drop away from us and be left behind. Nothing abides except those things done with love, in hope and by faith.

My Thanksgiving usually passes in a blur of cooking. From early morning until I collapse on the sofa after the meal is finished, I work. Then, after everyone leaves, I go into the kitchen and put the first load in the dishwasher. It usually takes me all day the next day to get everything cleaned and put back in order.

Does that mean that Thanksgiving is more burden than celebration for me? Not at all. There is something wonderful about cooking a huge feast and gathering my dearest loves around a table to enjoy it. Food and drink, love and being together, are indeed among those blessings circled with the thorns of love, responsibility and tenderness that come from God. I would not trade this day of love for leisure. I am, rather, grateful for the opportunity to be Mom to such wonderful people. They are the warp and woof of my life.

I was grateful for many things this Thanksgiving, and, life being what it is, I am burdened by a couple of things; my beloved drug addict niece foremost among them.  Monday, I go to Dallas to begin the process of determining what the mass in my breast might be. That hangs over me like a cloud, as well.

The thing I am most thankful for and my greatest burden are one and the same thing. God has trusted me with the care of my 90-year-old mother. This is far from easy. In fact, it’s a bit like Chinese water torture.

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At the Evening of Life, We Shall Be Judged on our Love

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

My uncle died last Sunday. I’m going to Dallas early next week for my appointment about the mass in my breast.

All these things, plus a number I haven’t written about, have struck me mostly mute of late. I apologize to all of you for being MIA so much of the time. I have quite a lot to say about the things happening in the world, and I’ll try to get back to writing speed as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I did write this post for the National Catholic Register, inspired by my uncle’s passing. Please pray for him. His name is Doyt.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. We have so much to be grateful for.

In Christ,


From the National Catholic Register:

My husband’s uncle died Sunday. He was 82, and had lived a good life.

Before he died, he saw his dead sister, our Aunt Tid, and his mother. That’s not uncommon when we are nearing the end of this life. We get glimpses of the new life we are about the enter.

My guess is that God sends loved ones to us, to help us make that transition, that they are a welcoming committee of sorts. I believe God sends our angels, alongside our loved ones who have passed ahead of us, to lead us home.

Death is not annihilation. Your body and soul will be separated for a time, but you will not stop existing, not even for a moment. On that day, you will hear someone say, You are mine.

In that moment, we will enter the embrace of the one we have chosen to follow, the one for whom we have lived. Will it be Jesus?

You are mine. You belong to me.

We all die. You will die. I will die. Everyone alive will die. We have no choice in that. But we choose whose voice we will hear when we cross over. We choose now, here, each day of our earthly existence, as we decide who we will follow and who we will trust.

Do you trust Jesus? Do you follow Him?

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King of Jordan Warns of Third World War Against Humanity

King Abdullah of Jordan Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chatham House

King Abdullah of Jordan Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chatham House

Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned of a “third world war against humanity.” He described ISIS as “savage outlaws of religion.”

From Al Arabiya News:

King Abdullah II of Jordan warned Tuesday of a “third world war against humanity”, in the wake of the Paris attacks, describing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group as “savage outlaws of religion.”

During an official visit to Kosovo, Abdullah said both Europe and Islam were under attack from the “scourge” of terrorism that could strike at any time.

“We are facing a third world war against humanity and this is what brings us all together,” he told a press conference.

“This is a war, as I’ve said repeatedly, within Islam,” he said, adding: “Groups such as Daesh (ISIS) expose themselves daily as savage outlaws of religion devoid of humanity respecting no laws and no boundaries.”

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Jenny McCarthy Says Charlie Sheen Should Have Disclosed His HIV Status Before Love Scenes

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by La Real noticia

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by La Real noticia

Jenny McCarthy gives another viewpoint on the Charlie Sheen/HIV discussion. I didn’t know that the actors were obliged to reveal communicable things such as herpes, but I think, considering the intimate contact they engage in, it’s a good idea.

It sounds as if Sheen failed to disclose. Do you agree with Jennifer that he should have?

From Fox411:

Jenny McCarthy is not throwing her support behind Charlie Sheen in light of his revelation this week that he was diagnosed as HIV-positive four years ago.

McCarthy, who had a guest stint as Sheen’s love interest on his show “Two and a Half Men,” said Wednesday that Sheen should have disclosed his diagnosis at the time because he had physical contact with actresses on-set.

“Now being on ‘Two and a Half Men’ myself, I feel like in playing a love interest, you would think there would be some type of, I don’t want to say criminal issue, but I don’t even know how to feel about that,” she said on her SiriusXM radio show.

McCarthy appeared on the show a handful of times between 2007 and 2011. Sheen was axed in 2011.

Comparing Sheen’s diagnosis to her own signing on-set releases about having cold sores, she continued: “I was like, ‘Wait a second, if I have to be upfront about a herpe, how could you not be upfront about HIV?’ I look back and I’m like, ‘OK, that would have been some valuable information.’ I mean look how many people have played his love interest on the show.”

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It Began with a Routine Mammogram

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Roswell Park

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Roswell Park

Several Public Catholic readers remarked on the fact that I went silent last week. Truth was, I just got overwhelmed and needed a time out. I promised you I’d write an explanation. A post I wrote for the National Catholic Register, covers a lot of what is happening with me.

Here’s part of what I said:

It started as a routine mammogram.

I re-scheduled it several times for various trivial reasons, not the least of which is that I don’t like going to the doctor. I never did like going to doctors all that much, but since I spend a huge portion of my life dealing with my 90-year-old mother’s medical care, I like it even less.

I guess it would be safe to say that I’ve got medical care exhaustion. In fact, I’ve got care exhaustion. In fact, I’m just plain tired.

So I put the mammogram off. I scheduled and re-scheduled and dithered and delayed. I thought it was a bother and a waste of time and that there was no real reason for it since it would be negative on all counts.

I was bored and bothered throughout the whole uncomfortable deal when I finally made it in for the mammogram. I left the place happy that it was over and I wouldn’t have to do it again. The lady who took the x-rays emphasized that I needed to come in every year. But I had no intention of going through that again next year. A few years would do. Who knew when I’d be back.

It turns out that I was back in a week. I almost didn’t take the call. It was a number I didn’t recognize, and I was, as usual, busy, busy. Butt after thinking about ignoring it, I picked up the phone and clicked. Long story short, there was a problem. A couple of days later, I was back.

It wasn’t a quick exam, and it was, in fact, oddly impersonal. The doc and the tech kept going over the spot with the ultrasound, bearing down hard, and talking to one another. I wasn’t involved. I was sore for days afterwards from all the poking.

I should have known something was up, just by their intensity, by the 45 minutes (I looked at my watch) that they spent staring at the screen and talking about my body. But I continued down la-la road.


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So, Charlie Sheen Announced He’s HIV Positive …

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by La Real noticia

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by La Real noticia

Actor Charlie Sheen has announced that he’s HIV positive.

To be honest, I was a bit confused by all the hoopla surrounding this. Charlie Sheen, the poster boy for dissolute living, with the big daddy of STDs? No surprise there.

Then, I watched a YouTube video of his announcement. The poor man’s a mess. He needs our prayers, as do the others who must live with this cunning virus.

I wrote about this for Catholic Vote. Here’s part of what I saidxt:

So, Charlie Sheen announced he’s HIV positive.

My first reaction when I read the headline was big yawn. Mr Sheen has bragged about his sexual promiscuity. He’s made millions playing characters that are a watered-down version of his real-life self. Add to that his equally well-known problems with alcoholism and drug addiction and, well, big yawn.

His life is like a walking how-to video on how to contract STDs and trash your health. The fact that he’s contracted the HIV virus is no big whoop to me.

I was flummoxed as to why this was such big news. Then, I watched a YouTube video of his “confession,” and I saw why. This poor man has been hiding in shame from his HIV status. According to his statements, he’s allowed himself to be blackmailed to the tune of millions of dollars in an attempt to hide the truth.

After watching the video, I, as usual, felt sorry for Charlie Sheen. His demons are terrible ones. He is afflicted with the ubiquitous plague of drugs, alcohol and dissolute living, which is a recipe for self-destruction. It also seems that he’s — for some reason — burdened with crippling shame because he’s infected with a virus that is often transmitted through sexual contact.

That might make sense if he was a monk who had been pretending to be celibate and got his lies found out. But Charlie Sheen brags about his “goddesses.” His wildly self-destructive self has been on every media outlet, flaunting the delusions and insanity of alcoholism and drug addiction. STDs, including HIV, are not a big reveal where Charlie Sheen is concerned. They are the logical next step in his life path.


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