Something Greater Than Cancer

Something Greater Than Cancer June 22, 2021

Phyllis and Demophoon by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1870.
Birmingham Museums Trust, [Public Domain], via

I’m sitting in the waiting room of The Radiant Light Healing Spa (a.k.a. Radiation Oncology Department) watching a video of a growing nebula in a distant part of the galaxy. It is intended to comfort me, showing that new formations are a generative process of universal creation — nothing to fear. Yet everything to embrace. They signify becoming. A new beginning. Yet, why is this happening to me and my body?

I’m talking about the Cancer Nebula. Not the one in some distant part of the galaxy. The one that was growing inside my left breast and had to be removed. If it wasn’t, I would have been removed from my body and exist solely in the spirit realm. Like the nebula in the galaxy, mine was composed of an entangled web of ducts and spirals, growing into something greater.  It was taking up more and more space, soon to create its own constellation within my body. And it was not going away on its own, as it told me with a sinister voice in an awakened dream,“You’re TRYING to push me away!” Trying equals failure. Although I awakened from that horror, the nightmare of a cancer diagnosis continues on a daily basis, at times engulfing me in a galaxy of fear.

“What could be greater than this cancer?” I often think, finding myself agape, my heart palpitating. The answer is a Sea of Forgetfulness brought on by something BIGGER than cancer: The Power of LOVE and its guiding purpose in one’s physical life.

And ironically, it has a lot to do with the word “Agape” in its ancient Greek meaning: “to experience a love that persists — regardless of circumstance — where one seeks the best for Others.” 1 The Apostle, John, eloquently expressed this by saying: “For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends [those whom one loves].” 2  Of course, the ultimate example of being Agape is Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the Cross.

Now, being Agape is a lot to digest — especially for cancer patients — for they are the ones in dire need of LOVE from family, friends, their medical team and caregivers. So, how does this pan out?   LOVE eradicates fear which eradicates disease.

For me, it all happened unexpectedly when a healthcare emergency of my brother with special needs superseded my disease. It was during this crisis and taking care of the minute-by-minute details that I realized that there was something I was forgetting.  And then I remembered that I forgot that I had cancer! 

This forgetfulness and the desire and willingness to be there for my brother put me in a positive mindset to not focus on the cancer, but something greater than it the need to be there to help the person I LOVE the most. My being Agape was the first time since my diagnosis that my body felt well! I learned that the ability to disassociate from cancer — even if temporarily — has a healing effect.

Yet, very rarely does one have to face a circumstance greater than cancer which makes them forget.  That’s when remembering Who and What are worth hanging around for makes us forget and has a healing effect. This can include ways in which we make the world a better place and is eloquently expressed in Hebrew: a mission (Mitzvah) 3 that is a call to divine service (Aleinu) 4 to repair the world (Tikkun Olam) by acts of loving kindness (Gemilut Hasadim). 6

A social worker friend of mine whose mission (Mitzvah) is loving service to her community had Stage 4 Cancer and was healed of it more than 16 years ago. When I poured my heart out to her with my diagnosis, I was shocked when she calmly said, “Cancer is an inconvenience. You’ll be fine.” “How could she say this to me?” I thought.  In retrospect, it all makes sense. Having a life’s purpose greater than cancer can push it away. The need to survive by an intraductal string of LOVE wins out!

Of course, at times of duress during treatment, we may find ourselves engrossed in physical pain and cannot forget. That’s when the Will to Survive comes into play, brought into focus by a glimmer of hope and light at the end of the tunnel enabling us to continue for the folks we love and our mission.

This entails knowing that our ultimate identity is Source. 7 And Source is eternal.  This awareness provides strength to let go of the fear of physical death which exacerbates disease. And it is the deeper meaning of Jesus saying, “They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world,” 8 on the eve of his Crucifixion; and, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”  9 And when he would tell people, “Your faith has healed you,” it was faith — an awakening that we are at-one with Source and eternal — that healed disease. 10

When Jesus touched people, he transmitted spiritual energy which awakened them to this oneness.  And, as Fr. Seán ÓLaoire, Ph.D. writes, it is what happened inside the core of the person’s being that created this healing effect. 11  No longer subject to the fear of disease and death, the Will to Survive is in full force. And at times of duress we must awaken ourselves.

Yet, as eternal beings, we will eventually ‘shuffle off our mortal coil,’ 12 as Fr. Seán ÓLaoire, Ph.D. often lovingly states. We can hang onto it a bit longer and push the cancer away.

At the beginning of my diagnosis, when all the treatment aspects and severity of the cancer were unknown, I always envisioned a glimmer of light beyond the tunnel of darkness, looking forward to a time when I could place my cancer-grief in a container on a shelf from which I could take it down occasionally, examine it and say, “I remember when I had cancer.” And be grateful that I survived, no longer enmeshed with the thought that I was my cancer. It was something I once experienced, which gave me an appreciation of what I once took for granted — my physical life, the interconnectedness to those I LOVE and my mission!

As far as the nebula is concerned, it’s locked in a container in a genomic testing lab. And when it’s no longer needed, will be placed in a cremation chamber where it will return to the dust from which it formed, then disperse into space and fade away.



  2. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. [ John 15:13] * [ John 15:13] For one’s friends: or: “those whom one loves.” In Jn 15:9–13a, the words for love are related to the Greek agapaō. In Jn 15:13b–15, the words for love are related to the Greek phileō. For John, the two roots seem synonymous and mean “to love”; cf. also Jn 21:15–17. The word philos is used here.
  6. 3
  7. Seán ÓLaoire, Ph.D. [See Slideshow.]
  8. Ibid 2. [ John 17:16]
  9. Ibid 2. [ John 11:25-26 ]
  10. Seán ÓLaoire, Ph.D [See ‘Faith is not an Affair of the Head. It’s an Affair of the Heart’ Section.]
  11. 10.
  12. A colloquial phrase coined by Fr. Seán ÓLaoire, Ph.D.

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