“You have cancer,” said the oncologist/surgeon doctor. “It will require surgery and we’ll figure out what happens next.”
I took a deep breath and felt an immediate sense of gratitude – even joy. A rather strange reaction one might think. Gratitude because IT was caught in time, gratitude because I have a wonderful support team, gratitude because I have full health insurance, and gratitude because I have faith – deep faith.
Surgery…double mastectomy with countless nodes under both arms (also cancerous) and therefore removed. An eight-hour surgery.
Six and a half years later the breast cancer returned, metastasized to bone. My first question to the medical oncologist was, “Am I terminal?” A resounding NO was answered. Still grateful. And never asked, “Why me?”
Well I have made it. I do continue with chemotherapy every three weeks. It can take a toll. I do get tired. I also get weepy because I know that there are people who are suffering far more than I will ever suffer with my cancer. Many don’t have advocacy; many don’t have faith.
So, out of my own health experience of coming so close to dying I have been compelled with the topic death, dying and life after death, from a religious perspective, as this is a subject that often doesn’t get dealt with. It’s hard for most folks to think of their immortality.
For this reason, on February 25, we held a program at The Guibord Center, “Beyond the Veil: Life After Death.”
It was a powerful, daylong gathering that covered the Abrahamic family in the morning: Christian, Jewish and Muslim. The afternoon dealt with the Eastern family: Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh.
I continue to explore the topic of death and dying, personally, with my own faith, as well as by developing other programs and resources that deal deeply with these issues
My work with The Guibord Center is rich and full. Programs for 2017 are set with a wonderful variety of topics. I have a steady eye toward programs for 2018.
I am proud of the many accomplishments of my work and feel that I will have left a serious mark on the interfaith landscape. I have much work yet to do. When the time comes for me to move on I will be able to say with integrity, “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy: 7
Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord is the founder and president of The Guibord Center in Los Angeles. The Guibord Center’s mission is “to bring people together to challenge assumptions, unleash the Holy, and affirm the faith that transforms the world.”