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NewsReal Sunday: Christopher Hitchens has Cancer – a Christian Response

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Posted on July 4 2010 10:00 am
Paul Cooper is a husband and father above all else. With a wife and 2 daughters he could use a dog, but sadly he only owns a cat – a female cat no less. Paul is also a pastor, blogger, and business owner. Find him on Twitter.

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How should we respond?

Cancer sucks.  Probably all of us have either fought cancer or know someone well who has.  Some of us have even lost friends or family to cancer. It’s often a test of faith, but what do we do when someone who has no faith – and even hates faith comes down with a disease that often leads to death?

My mother Jean was a person of faith.  On June 2nd of this year we lost her to breast cancer that had spread to all her bones.  It was a two year journey of pain and prayer, fighting and accepting, hurting but loving.  I don’t know how my mom would have made it without her faith in Christ.  And I don’t know how her six kids could have handled it without prayer and faith.

Christopher Hitchens and my mom don’t have much in common.  He has spent his days denying religion.  My mom lived day by day in a walk with her Savior.  Hitchens attacks Christianity with viciousness – especially conservative Christianity.  My mom would have been his target for she was a conservative, bible-believing Christian.  Hitchens mocks those who stood in his way.  My mom prayed for them.  Hitchens and Jean had little in common except for one thing – they both had to fight cancer.

Hitchens wrote a brief paragraph to Vanity Fair about his current situation.

“I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice. ” – Hitchens

Cancer comes in all varieties.  And of course what stage you are in matters as well.  I’m not sure what stage Hitchens is in, but esophageal cancer is a tough one to fight and most people get diagnosed in the late stages.  Usually the prognosis is not good.  The disease can be very painful, especially when trying to swallow.  The one suffering will often have to vomit a lot along with painful coughing.

The two biggest causes of esophageal cancer are the combination of drinking and smoking.  Anyone who knows Hitchens knows he did both regularly much of his life (Hitchens did quit smoking in 2008).  The overall 5 year survival rate for this type of cancer  is less than 5% on average.  Now I don’t know if Hitchens falls in the average, but his situation is tough regardless.

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