Inappropriate Religious Remarks and Cancer

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I have recently been diagnosed with lymphoma. I am currently in the process of learning about what specific type of lymphoma it is so I can learn what treatment process would be the most effective treatment for me. With that and telling friends and loved ones, I have gotten my share on the receiving end of some rather inappropriate religious remarks. I am in the “broom closet” with being a Pagan towards many people I know in real life, mostly because it just makes things easier in the Bible Belt south in the USA. However, that does not change how “not okay” certain remarks are. I wanted to touch on one specifically I got from a person I know well in real life.

The person effectively told me “You should involve Jesus more in your life, it will help your healing process, go to church more”. Ignoring the fact that I am an ex-Christain and polytheistic, this kind of advice (“Go to church in leau of professional medical intervention”, this was the context of the sentence since I know this person well) is flat out dangerous and deadly. There are numerous souls out there who use “faith healing” (going to church, prayer, instead of seeking out professional medical intervention) as a way to try to “heal” themselves from serious medical disasters (cancer, autoimmune disorders, among other serious conditions).

I understand being scared. I understand feeling like you need to turn to a higher power to help you heal from your illness that is destroying your body. However, this kind of “suggestion” or “advice” kills people.

The person who gave me this “suggestion” is a person who holds the belief that if the doctor is anything other than Christain, they would not seek treatment from them. Even if this person is the most medically qualified to treat them, if the person found out that this particular person was something other than Christain (espicially if they were say Athiest or Agnostic), they would ignore their medical words of wisdom and seek out treatment from someone else. These kinds of dangerous, toxic attitudes are the reasons why so many people do not get the best possible care they have access to.

Religion has its time and place for everything. If a person asks you to pray with them, pray with them. If a person asks for specific religious “words of wisdom” from a specific holy book (Bible, Vedas, Torah, Bhagavad Gita, etc.), then give your advice from the appropriate book.

It is important to remember that everyone comes from a different religious and spiritual background. Not everyone is Christain. Not everyone comes from a “happy” religious past, where religion might have been used as a tool to justify abuse against someone.

What I ask of people is to please just be mindful of what you say in regards to religion and someone who is ill (chronic, invisible illness, mental illness, serious medical conditions like cancer, etc.). What you might tell someone could be dangerous. What you might tell someone could trigger an flashback to an abusive time in the person’s past.

I’m a queer adopted healthcare worker who writers in their spare time. I have a MPH degree.