Angels and Cancer
Dr. Richard Frank—
Cancer is a medical condition that affects the human body (and other species). Scientists can break it down into its component molecular parts, the DNA and proteins that go awry. Oncologists can categorize it by type and stage and list the treatments for each condition. These are the cold hard facts of cancer. So, what do angels have to do with cancer?
I learned about angels and cancer in a beautiful article entitled "Waiting Room Angel," just published in Wilton Magazine by Christine Baer. Ms. Baer relates how she was in her oncologist's waiting room when she overheard an older man anxiously awaiting a follow-up meeting with his oncologist. When she heard the man state that he had decided against treatment, she instinctively spoke up and advised him to do otherwise; after all, she was a survivor of stage 4 lymphoma. You will have to read the article to learn how this turned out but suffice it to say that the man now considers Christine to be his angel.
Angels have their origins in biblical texts and they hold great spiritual importance for many. They are defined as supernatural beings intermediary between God and man or merely as someone who is a guiding spirit or influence in one's life. I most commonly hear the term used to refer to a person who does something purely good or extraordinary for someone else, sometimes a person they do not even know.
When we face great challenges in our lives we turn to our friends and family for guidance and search our souls for the right answer. But sometimes, just sometimes, we need that angel to come out of nowhere and shake our foundation into clarity. We all need a Christine at times.
Richard C. Frank, M.D., is director of cancer research at the Whittingham Cancer Center of Norwalk Hospital, medical director of Mid-Fairfield Hospice, and Clinical Assistant Attending at Weill Cornell Medical College. He has been appointed cancer expert for WebMD and was named a “Top Doc” in the New York Metro area by Castle and Connelly.