I’ve been having trouble deciding what to give up for Lent this year.

I’m a bit of a lukewarm Anglican but I’ve always liked the idea of making a commitment for Lent as an outward expression of faith. In years past I have given up chocolate and french fries; one sad year I gave up wine. I couldn’t decide what to give this year. I thought about booze, but decided that was just insane. I thought about sweets but realized I don’t eat that many sweets and it seemed a bit of a cop out. In my dark moment I thought about giving up the kids but couldn’t quite work out the logistics of that. Finally, I made my decision.

I’m giving up cancer for Lent.

Seems a bit ambitious right? I agree, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. You see, some days I can literally feel it growing in my body. I can feel the cells mutating and reforming into the beginnings of a tumour. It was when my sixth close relative was diagnosed with cancer that the heavy inevitability set in. It seems I am genetically predisposed to cancer… both parents, two grandparents and two uncles have been hit so far, some of them terminally. I now find myself watching my kids and wondering it I have passed on this horrible generic legacy.
This is not a particularly positive way to live my life… hence my Lenten decision. Over the next six weeks I intend to explore ways of preventing cancer before it begins. Borrowing from one of my New Year’s resolutions, to believe, (which, unfortunately, I have not yet quite figured out) I intend to invent a different future for myself and my family.

It is a lofty goal, I admit, but somehow they still seem reasonable. Six weeks isn’t going to stop cancer in its tracks, but it is long enough to change my perspective. Whether it’s in our food, our homes or our work places, we hear about so many of the things in our daily lives that cause cancer. During Lent I want to explore what I can do, or choose not to do, be it from an emotional, a physical or a spiritual perspective. Perhaps just learning more about what I’m trying to prevent will give me back some control and at least make me feel like I’m doing something to keep myself and my family from developing this modern plague.

It’s perhaps not precisely what the church intends as a Lenten project but what can be more faithful than preserving life?

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