This I Believe

Maryellen - Strafford, Pennsylvania
Entered on June 11, 2007

I believe in God. I suppose I always believed in God, but this belief became crushed and recemented many times as I have battled for my life over and over against metastatic breast cancer for the past six years.

I believe in God not because I want salvation or because it is the only rational conclusion or because I think I should or because I was taught to believe in God from an early age. I am not specifically looking for a cure or redemption. I don’t want anything from God. Actually, I do want something. In my human, frail, cancer state I feel constantly abandonded. Like everyone else, I want a shoulder to lay my head on. I want to be loved.

In the darkest moments, God made his (or her) presense known. Whether it was in the form of a good person coming from nowhere(as when my doctor literally came outside to get me when unbeknownst to him I had quit being treated, saving my life) or a clear revelatory thought, it was God. Increasingly, in my suffering, I knew this God was a God of love, peace and truth.

People say they believe in miracles, but maybe they are partially supersticious. They say to me that I should say a prayer a certain number of times, in a certain way and I will be cured. They give me bottles of holy water and oils. They mean well, but often I wondered why if I asked God so many times with great sincerely and fervor to cure me why it had not happened. I wondered why God needed certain formats to communicate and could not see the purity of a suffering person’s soul. I once wondered why wouldn’t God cure me right now in an elevator (I happened to be in an elevator at the time when I submitted the challenge to God and a person with me).

Gradually as I suffered for so long, I realized that there is a miracle. The miracle is called our brain and the real miracle is if we use our brain to the maximum of our ability. I am an organic chemistry teacher and often I turn to my students and say (because I am thinking it), “You know, you are just a collection of molecules.” I call this an atheistic moment. Because I will wonder in the moment how a collection of molecules believe in God. As a scientist, I know I am just a collection of molecules. But, what a glorious collection of molecules!!!!! I will say to my students, think about the level of molecular communication required to have all the reactions occur correctly in this giant reaction vessel we call our bodies.

So, I also believe in science. I believe that with a great knowledge of chemistry and biology, I can better control my disease and survive longer and so far I have.

I know a woman who believes that she can hold her hands over me and she can transfer energy to my body and I will be cured. I know someone who believes there is energy derived from crystals. These people do not seem to believe in God.

Recently, I experienced the precise application of gamma radiation to a brain tumor that had regrown in my cerebellum. The tumor shrank significantly and the fluid building up in my brain receded. It was pure science. The woman I know said, “It worked because I believed in it.” This is how people tend to talk in regard to cancer therapy. It is all the ancillary treatments that do the trick, but the bottom line is, chemotherapy and gamma radiation kill cancer cells. Or as I said to her, “I believe in it because it works.”

God gave us our brains so we should use them. Thank God for the love and peace and truth possible from these giant, complex collections of molecules.