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Hands raising towards the sky.

What’s Faith Got to Do with It?

When I was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, the only question I had for my oncologist was, “Can I keep playing agility with my dogs?” He was dumbfounded. He had just delivered the news that I had late-stage cancer and was expected to die within four months, even with treatment.

I guess I didn’t want to know about dying. I wanted to know about living.

How do I stay worry-free?

From the very beginning, my deep faith has kept me worry-free. The way I tell it, I am in a win-win situation. I love living. I have a good life with family and friends that I love with all of my heart. I don’t want to leave them.

But, the flip side is that my faith tells me that when I die, I land in the arms of Jesus. Heaven is not a place I dread going, to say the least. In fact, I look forward to the day when I take my last breath here and my next breath at the Pearly Gates.

So, I can’t lose. I love living this life, but I look forward to the next. See what I mean? Win-win.

Faith in God’s plan

I’m not much of a church-goer. I really wish I was. People who suffer an illness or deep grief often find great comfort among their fellow worshippers. But, finding a church where I fit in has been more work than I’ve been willing to put forth. However, my lack of church attendance hasn’t dimmed my faith at all. And, my faith gives me perfect peace to accept my situation.

Call me silly, if you wish, but I believe God has a plan for me. I might not understand the plan, but I believe He is all-knowing and that He doesn’t make mistakes. I don’t ask “why” I have cancer because I don’t care why. I’m not saying that I think God gave me cancer, but I am saying that I believe He will walk with me every step of this journey. That fills me with a peace that can’t be described.

Strength rooted in my faith

Cure Magazine recently published an article, “Keeping the Faith.” It highlights a 2015 meta-analysis study of more than 32,000 adults with cancer. Researchers wanted to know how believing in a higher power affects cancer patients.

It doesn’t surprise me to learn that people with some kind of faith in a higher authority reported that they have a “stronger ability to cope with a cancer diagnosis and whatever follows.”1 Since the study was based on self-reported feelings, data are not available to show whether those with religious beliefs actually live longer or not. But, I will go out on a limb and say that the days they do live are happier and less stress-filled than those of many of their counterparts who do not believe in a higher power.

I make this claim based on my own observations from participating in multiple online forums and from visiting with my personal friends and acquaintances. Those who self-report no faith in any higher being are more likely to have a negative attitude about the fact that they have cancer and report far greater concerns about dying. Many of these individuals tend to be angry, bitter and very scared. I can understand that. If I didn’t believe I was going to end up in Heaven when my life ends, I too would be terrified.

Fully living each day

My faith has grown stronger since I was diagnosed six years ago. It has seen me through many ups and downs through this cancer and life journey. Is my faith keeping me alive? Perhaps it hasn’t extended the number of days I will live, but it has definitely allowed me to fully live the days I have.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The LungCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Theresa Sullivan Barger, Keeping the Faith, Cure Magazine, Bonus Issue 2018, Vol. 17, No. 5, page 26.

Comments

  • Cheryn
    8 months ago

    You took the words right out of my mouth. I too know that death is not the end of life only a transistioning to paradise. Thank you for sharing your faith.

  • Donna Fernandez moderator author
    8 months ago

    Cheryn, I can’t imagine how awful a feeling it would be to NOT have the faith that my last breath here equals my first breath in Heaven. I’m so glad that you share my faith and have the same comfort I do!

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    8 months ago

    @donna-fernandez Great piece. I couldn’t agree with you more. If faith doesn’t keep us centered I don’t know what will. Best!

  • glr9029
    8 months ago

    Donna, Thank you for writing this article. Your words perfectly echo our beliefs (except we do have a wonderful church that is a big part of our lives). My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer a little over two years ago. There have been many highs and lows along our journey but only ‘one set of footprints’
    Trust in You by Lauren Daigle is a song that speaks to our hearts and reminds us to trust…. here are the lyrics. We also are in a win/ win situation ❤️

    Letting go of every single dream
    I lay each one down at Your feet
    Every moment of my wandering
    Never changes what You see
    I try to win this war
    I confess, my hands are weary, I need Your rest
    Mighty warrior, king of the fight
    No matter what I face You’re by my side
    When You don’t move the mountains
    I’m needing You to move
    When You don’t part the waters
    I wish I could walk through
    When You don’t give the answers
    As I cry out to You
    I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You
    Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
    There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
    So let all things be my life and breath
    I want what You want Lord and nothing less
    When You don’t move the mountains
    I’m needing You to move
    When You don’t part the waters
    I wish I could walk through
    When You don’t give the answers
    As I cry out to You
    I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You
    I will trust in You
    You are my strength and comfort
    You are my steady hand
    You are my firm foudation
    The rock on which I stand
    Your ways are always higher
    Your plans are always good
    There’s not a place where I’ll go
    You’ve not already stood
    When You don’t move the mountains
    I’m needing You to move
    When You don’t part the waters
    I wish I could walk through
    When You don’t give the answers
    As I cry out to You
    I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You
    I will trust in You
    I will trust in You
    I will trust in You
    Songwriters: Lauren Daigle / Paul Marbury / Michael Farren

  • Donna Fernandez moderator author
    8 months ago

    Thank you, thank you so much for that awesome poem … and for saying it like you did about there only being one set of footsteps on this journey … what a beautiful thought this early morning and day after treatment!

    My prayers are with you – the role of caregiver is a very difficult one – and with your husband!!

    Thanks again for your awesome post.

  • SharonWalker
    9 months ago

    I have stage 4 untreatable. I am not a church goer but I do believe in a creator and my ‘church’ is in the beauty of nature. I believe in the never ending Circle of Life. I believe that we were pre-ordained to remain here in coporeal reality until our work here is done .. though few actually know what that work is.. Some things are just not to know. I believe we all die when it is our time and not before, not matter what, and cause of death doesn’t really matter. But the circle is unbroken and life will start again, though not in this world. I’ve loved and been loved all my life and that’s all that counts for me.

    I have never been afraid of death.. it comes to us all. What I do know is that I have spent 70 years enjoying each and day I’ve been afforded.

    Now folks tell me this isn’t natural to have no fear, to not feel anxiety or depression over my impending death, but I fully intend to go out with a bang as I’ve always lived… celebrating life instead of mourning my death. I am at peace.

  • Donna Fernandez moderator author
    9 months ago

    SharonWalker, I love your attitude!

    Thank you for your post and you’re in my thoughts as you complete the last part of the earthly journey. Celebrate big!!! And enjoy!

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    9 months ago

    Donna, I do believe there’s that master plan for all of us, despite us wanting or believing we call the full shots to our destiny. I believe at times God throws a few monkey wrenches in the walk of life, and we learn to adapt and move with the journey. I’m so happy your faith has strengthened and continues to do so on your journey of life. Best to you!

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