Living & Discerning with Cancer

A few weeks ago I had major bowel surgery for a non-cancer issue. The doctors removed what was needed, but while inside me discovered something totally unexpected: a series of tumors which tested as a cancerous tumor. The good news: it’s a carcinoid, one of the slowest growing cancers. It can be in a person’s body for years, even decades, before causing problems. But it still can be deadly. Median lifespan, based on when diagnosed and how far it’s spread (as to the liver), is 16-20 years after diagnosis. I’m in my twenties now. I saw an oncologist who said not to panic, that this was something I would have the rest of my life likely, but nothing grave at this point. It used to be that the life expectancy for carcinoid patients was much lower, but in recent years new medicines have prolonged the median lifespan, and I expect this trend to continue.

A question I have: how does living with cancer affect the remainder of one’s life?

I know there are some things I cannot do, such as give blood. I wonder though, would certain professions/vocations be blocked to me? I’m in the financial industry now but have thought about changing to something more suited to my abilities. I’ve thought about seminary in the past, but wonder now if cancer would automatically block me.

I’ve also thought about something related to healthcare (after my personal experience with the system, which was kind of fascinating :slight_smile: ), but wonder if they do not want people with cancer in this field either (because of potential exposure to x-rays, radioactive material, etc.) I’ve long also thought about pursuing a PhD in theology (I already have an MA). Would cancer be an issue were I to pursue this route, towards becoming a professor?

Another related question: can I still hope to get married and have a family? Is the vocation of marriage still open to me?

In the US, employers and educational systems (universities) cannot inquire into your health status to make decisions on hiring you or admission to college.

However, religious congregations can make inquiries as they will be the ones responsible for your medical costs should you be admitted into their Order.

A prospective marriage partner should be informed of any medical conditions you have. This is not done on a first date, but if the relationship is getting serious then you owe it to your prospective partner to be honest. Wouldnt you expect the same from them?

Yes, this makes perfect sense.

I knew employers could not ask questions about medical history in the interviewing process, but I wondered about public service jobs, some of which require physical and/or psychological exams as pre-requisite to employment.

I imagine employers would be liable to medical discrimination lawsuits were they to let someone go based on medical results from these exams.

You may want to visit Phillip Johnson’s blog:

He has inoperable brain cancer and is discerning the priesthood. I met him in Lourdes :stuck_out_tongue: What an inspiration :smiley: You can contact him and find out more about this discernment :]

I don’t want to speak for anyone on the board, but there are some members who have been living with a cancer diagnosis and have (or are currently) undergoing treatment. Hopefully, they will chime in.

You are in my prayers.

Cancer shouldn’t stop you from doing anything. None of us know what tomorrow will bring. Yes, it is a heavy cross and some days it takes a heroic effort to deal with it, but each day is a practice of faith and trust. I’m 9 years out from stage III testicular cancer with met. in lungs and lympths. I still have spots on scans that have been unchanged since 2003, perhaps scar tissue. Controling anxiety proves to be the toughest in the long run, esp. around followup time, yearly now for me. Live in the present moment as best you can. I wish I had a magic answer for you, but everyone copes differently. Sometimes it is a tough road to find your way through, but we all have to do it. It can be a lonely one at that, but know the Lord is with you all the way. We only have today, so make it the best day possible. Tim

I’m a cancer survivor (although I’m not yet to the 5th year post surgery). Confronting death can improve one’s concentration; it has affected my priorities. I think that at the end of our days we are likely to judge our lives by the success of our relationships: with our Lord, our families, and each other. I spend more time and energy supporting people in these efforts.

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