Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, even when the prognosis suggests otherwise
Hoping for More: Having Cancer, Talking Faith, and Accepting Grace. Deanna A. Thompson. 148 pages, paperback, $19. 2012. Cascade Books, a division of Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, OR. www.wipfandstock.com.
Deanna Thompson, professor of religion at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, begins this book describing her life as being near-perfect. Married, 40 years old, the mother of two daughters, ages 12 and 9, and employed in a job she loved, she was already grateful for the blessings she had.
Early on she perceives the impact on her theology, followed by the undeniable reality of grace and the importance of community.
In an instant, her life, and the lives of those who love her, took an unexpected turn in a new direction. In December 2008, she was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Thompson’s book chronicles her new reality.
Thompson strikes a skillful balance in revealing her physical suffering; sharing the effect her cancer diagnosis has on her family members, colleagues, students, and friends and their responses; and communicating the reflections that living with cancer and a poor prognosis provoke in her concerning long held beliefs.
‘Unending wait, wait, wait’
Once I started reading this book, so honestly and eloquently written, I couldn’t put it down until I had finished it. Thompson writes in a genuine and thoughtful manner, not sugarcoating her experience or slipping into self-pity. She gives a candid account of the jolt of a cancer diagnosis; the experience of treatment; the seemingly unending wait, wait, wait, for everything from test results to feeling better. Early on she perceives the impact on her theology, followed by the undeniable reality of grace and the importance of community.
People who are unsure what to say, or how to be helpful, to someone with cancer will gain insight by reading this book. This may be as close as readers can get to experiencing a cancer diagnosis and its impacts without actually getting a cancer diagnosis.
The wise reader will be led by Thompson to think about his or her own beliefs. As Thompson writes, “… we continue on in the midst of not knowing.”