Being the tallest kid in the school at 6’4, and solid instead of skinny, Don Falls was the football and basketball star in my high school. Through the years, he and his wife, Sharon [Parke], have been the primary organizers of our class reunions. Helen and I had not planned to go to our 55 year reunion in June, because it’s a 1400 mile round trip, but Donna [Miller] Huff talked us into it. I’m glad she did.
Don was having back problems. He thought it was from helping a grandson lift a TV set. He was in pain unless he sat, so he sat as he and I chatted before dinner. Then he had to go back to his place at the table. The chair had no arms, and he couldn’t get up. Don is even more solid now than in high school, and I’m sure it must have been a surreal experience for the rest of our classmates to see the skinny newspaper editor [my high school persona] pulling the star athlete up out of his chair.
Don’s pain, though, wasn’t from lifting a TV; it is from cancer.
Cancer develops if the cells make a mistake when they divide. “…as cells divide and reproduce, they sometimes make mistakes that cripple the cells’ defenses against runaway growth.”
Cancer is certainly not confined to old people, but old people get more cancers because their cells have made more divisions and thus have had more opportunities for mistakes.
It’s not just our cells, though, is it? Just by living long, we’ve had more opportunities for mistakes, mistakes that result in cancers of relationships and memory and hope. I don’t know about you, but I’ve made the most of those opportunities. The good news is that there is healing.
Not necessarily cure. As I pray for Don and other cancer patients during my 2 am prayer watch in the night, I know that his body will probably not survive. We don’t live forever. I see obits every day for people younger than Don and I. There may not be a cure for the mistakes our cells have made, but there is healing for the mistakes our brains and tongues and hands have made. It is called forgiveness. So for Don, and for me, I pray for healing.
And also for you,
 Malcolm Gladwell, “What the Dog Saw,” page 112.