A friend of mine just sent me this article of his, “Cancer is back, so I have a request …”
In it, Charles Lewis discusses his ambivalence about writing and speaking publicly about his illness.
Of course, in reading a column about it, his decision is made clear and obvious.
The first reason he gives for being public about it is because he hopes that others will pray for him.
A second reason he discerns is that he does not want to go through the burden alone or for he and his wife to shoulder it privately.
A third reason, which I found particularly interesting comes up when Lewis concludes, “Besides, why hide it? Would not that be a form of pride?”
My mother certainly shares that attitude.
Recently, she articulated this position is words more precise and emphatic than usual.
She said, “Never fall into that trap of privacy. Privacy from what? For what? We are here for other people. What are we hiding behind? A certain level of privacy and discretion is respectful, but it is not respectful if it fully takes away from our ability to help people.”
She added, “It used to be that, when people went to church, they found out that someone was sick when that person’s name was mentioned during the Prayers of the Faithful. That still happens to some extent, but less so because of thinking that suffering or illness is personal, private information.”
Throughout the past year, I have really been enjoying listening to Kate Bowler’s “Everything Happens” podcast.
Diagnosed with Stage IV cancer at age 35, Bowler then faced up to confronting her perspective on the “prosperity gospel” and went on to give this TED Talk, “‘Everything happens for a reason’ — and other lies I’ve loved.“
Here’s an example of her realness on social media and how she, too, seems to have thought, “Besides, why hide it?”
Suffering is a school in humility, and there are layers to the value of this education in both the public and private realms.