I received an email from my Uncle, Leland Olson, last night. He has been battling a reoccurrence of prostate cancer this past year. As long as I can remember, My Uncle Lee and his wife, Aunt Gretchen, have been to me a true example of all that is good in this life. When I was younger, their house and family was a beacon of light and happiness, as a young parent I looked to them as an example of loving, engaged parenting, as a young adult (and still) their marriage has been a shining example of a union of strength, even when faced with many life-threatening illnesses, and now my Uncle Lee’s words prove useful in doing something we all should do, which is to contemplate our mortality and the finite nature of the body that houses us; moreover to help us face something that we all must do, which is to eventually leave this earthly body. I asked his permission to share with you his words of wisdom here:
Dear family, friends, classmates, book club members, acquaintances, associates, et al.,
As you probably know, Good Friday was not a good day for Jesus, but it was a good day for us because he suffered and died to save us from the legal consequences of our sins, i.e. the judgment and wrath of God. However, this Good Friday was especially good for me because my oncology doctor informed me that after 40 radiation treatments, my PSA level is undetectable. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m totally cured, but is an indication that I might be, and it’s the best possible news I could have at this point. It also means that I made the right treatment decision: there were leftover cancer cells in my body that were growing and needed to be zapped before they spread.
I’m hoping that this will be my last prostate cancer report, so I want to take this opportunity to once again thank all of you who supported me in thought, word, and prayer. My prayer for myself was that I would have enough courage and faith to accept either outcome, cure or no cure, because if we live long enough and don’t get bumped off by an accident or something, we’re all going to face a sickness unto death, which is not healed by prayer and that will be the true test of our faith. I suspect that some of you are facing that test right now. Of course, the desire of my heart was for healing, and this time God appears to have granted my desire, but there’s no guarantee. The only desire that will for sure be granted is our desire to be with him forever, and that desire can’t be granted without us dying.
Today many of us went to church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus: “The Lord is risen, indeed!” My world view is built on the assumption that this is historical fact: Jesus really was the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and the resurrection is final proof of that. I know that some of you don’t believe any of this and may even considered it to be a silly fairy tale. Presumably, you have found a better belief system that answers life’s ultimate questions and gives you hope, peace, and joy. I totally respect that, but the Christian world view makes the most sense to me, and I’ve spent much of my life thinking about it. Is he risen indeed or not? That is the question that each of us must answer for him/herself.
Believing that he is,