The Words of the Collins Family
The Cornerstone has been kind enough to publish my occasional cancer reveries as I deal with cancer for a second time. I previously underwent 8 months of chemo in 1995-1996 for Hodgkins Lymphoma, unknown cause, and at one point in that process had been declared terminal.
I've now undergone 2 months of chemo again for Hodgkins Lymphoma and celebrated it by giving a sermon at the First Unitarian Church, a religious group my family has been a member of since 1994. Its the largest Unitarian group in the world, dominated by University of Wisconsin faculty and staff, and holds its Saturday services in the original building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and its Sunday services in a new LEED certified building adjacent to it. Politically they lean left, but religiously they are, like Unificationism, respectful of all religions.
The sermon I gave contains a great deal of Unificationism/Divine Principle, though I did not mention Reverend Moon or the Unification Church by name in part as to not alienate the audience and in part because Unificationism is so natural to my own thinking since being witnessed to by Poppy in downtown San Francisco in 1978. As some of you know, I did one year witnessing, one year MFT, three years seminary, and then left to pursue my own professional desires, which eventually included obtaining a doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh. Then I served on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin, University of Bridgeport (1999-2002), and back to Madison to join Edgewood College, which is owned by the Dominicans.
My sermon was well-attended, including two Unificationists, Renee Pearson Thompson and Caleb Thompson who live 40 minutes away in Janesville. The sermon ended with a great deal of applause, which is uncommon at a Unitarian service. I believe the applause was due not only to my transparency and honesty, but also to the Unificationism themes of theism, the purpose of life (joyfully build heaven on earth/a just society) and spirit world (of which I emphasized ending up with people who have obtained the same level of heart).
Throughout this round of cancer I've been having fascinating dreams, most of them about how some people get the Unificationism message and many do not, yet can. Our mission is to do what we can to convey aspects of the message we find most meaningful in a manner that it can be received, which is what I've been doing teaching, writing, and organizing around Business Ethics since 1985.
After the sermon I felt very enthused, yet weak. Here I had just put my soul on display, plus had the joy of having an business ethics textbook for students published a few weeks ago. The weakness felt like an undeserved and unwanted gift.
On Sunday, the day after, I struggled with my breathing and came up with another "no-person's" cancer land story -- you know you're in no-person's land when you struggle breathing going downstairs in addition to going upstairs. By Sunday night I thought if I have to do another round of chemo I have no idea how I'll manage it.
On Monday, I had my weekly morning lab tests and found out that my body was closing down. Both my white blood and red blood cell counts were extremely low. I was immediately hospitalized and over the next six hours had two pints of blood slowly infused into my body through my right arm. Thank God for the Red Cross and those who contribute blood.
On the physical level, chemo consists of poisonous drugs that destroy everything, which means the cancer and good cells.
I find it interesting that my body started to close down after the sermon. I did not need a blood transfusion during my previous 8 months of chemo experience, though probably came close a few times. This time, now that I'm 15 years older at age 55, it did happen and if not for a pre-arranged weekly lab appointment I'm not sure at what point I would have called my oncologist for help.
On the spiritual level, one can probably come up with a range of spiritual interpretations for all this. All I can be sure of is that I now have two pints of someone else's blood running through my body and feel great. Plus, I'm now able to continue to plug away at business ethics.
"Getting Cancer a Second Time: What a Blessing! – A Personal Quest"