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Is My Bladder Cancer My Fault?

I read this article and had to respond. Please give this a read at some point.

Fault, blame, and judgment. I did X, so I deserve Y. I can almost make the leap until I see someone who never did X and still got Y.

Choices and consequences

I have made choices in my life, and many of them have had consequences. Some of the choices have been better than others, and some of the consequences have been better or worse in proportion. I accept the cost for the life I have chosen, but fault is a dangerous path.

Do I deserve my cancer because I smoked?

To assign fault is to assume we know all of the details. It also serves no positive purpose. I had bladder cancer. First question: “Do you or did you smoke?” If I say yes, then my cancer is expected and somehow deserved. What if I say, “No?” Then I am just an unlucky rascal?

Why do we judge or blame others?

We as people use fault, blame, and judgment as a way to insulate ourselves from fear or to put ourselves on some moral high ground. If I can explain why something bad has happened to someone, I can feel safe since I don’t do whatever caused their hardship. I can judge other’s because I see their failings and I do not repeat them.

All of this only serves to tear down someone who is already struggling. At some point, most, if not all of us, will have a struggle. Some of those trials will have been brought on, in whole or in part by choices we made. None of us will need someone to point out our faults.

We don't need more judgment

I have been a pastor for over 20 years, and I have never found someone who needs more judgment in their life. Never has someone come to me and said, “Pastor, I need more judgment.” Not one time. We don’t need it from a doctor or a family member or a random stranger, and they don’t need it from us!

We do need more compassion

Compassion, empathy, kindness, and care. If I have done something that had a negative impact on my health, I know it. Everyone does. But the fact is that some folks get sick for no particular reason and did not “do” anything. Regardless of the "how" or "why," compassion is the appropriate response.

Building people up is always the appropriate course of action. Worry less about the “why” and focus on, “what can I do to uplift?” How can I come alongside suffering and lessen the burden?


If you have been judged or felt stigmatized or shunned, you are acutely aware of how damaging it is. Allow that knowledge to spur you on to do better than has been done to you. I have never regretted an act of kindness. I have regretted being judgmental or harsh.

Uplifting those around us

I read the article I highlighted at the beginning of this piece, and it hurt. It hurt because I have heard much of it and said some of it. But reading it brings it into a different, clearer, more convicting focus. Read the article. Decide for yourself if you could be more uplifting to those around you. Could you show more love, more kindness, understanding, even compassion? We all know if our decisions have cost us, more important is the knowledge that we can all use more grace, regardless of merit.

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