Suffering from cancer is probably the hardest stumbling block to faith—even more so the suffering and death of children. This book is very honest about it and does not hide the truth about cancer and what it does to the body. But the second half of the book deals specifically with the question of how faith can help us to cope with cancer. It addresses the question of what good could ever come out of suffering with cancer for our souls—even out of a child’s suffering.
There is no other book on the market that discusses what we know about cancer and about the suffering cancer victims go through in the context of religion. The Catholic contribution to this discussion is the emphasis on the human person, a unity of body and soul. Does the person die when the body dies, or does the soul survive? Yet, most of what is written about cancer ends when the patient dies. That’s not a promising perspective for people who were stricken by cancer. True, there are some great advances in cancer research, as the book explains, but what to do when the medical approach has been exhausted, as happens so often? The book tries to also reach non-Catholics by leading them carefully to an opening for the religious dimension of suffering (but I also show that Catholicism has the best perspective on that – for instance, redemptive suffering and the examples of the saints).
The book gives readers the basics of what we know about what cancer does to the body (they should not have to read another book to get that basic information, and those other books would most likely be very detailed and unreadable). But at the same time, this book also tells them – which is kind of unique - how we deal with the religious dimension of all of this, questions such as “Why me,” “Is something wrong between God and me,” “How God can allow cancer,” “What is the purpose of suffering from cancer,” “How can I make my suffering meaningful.”
All of this is tied together with the true story of Allyson, who died of cancer when she was only 11 years old. She is the connecting thread between all the chapters. She shows us through the story of her short life on earth how her courageous battle with cancer only seemed to be a lost battle, but did end up to be a victory of a different kind. She suffered her illness with the sweet bewilderment that only children can exhibit, and yet her battle is an example and model for adults too. There seems to be so little this young child could do on earth, and yet we believe there must have been a reason for that child to walk the earth for so short a time. That reason can only be found in God. Many who read about Allyson’s story will be deeply moved and hopefully see their own suffering now with different eyes.