Saturday, 11 August 2007

Thought for the Day: On beating the odds

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Forrest Church, Minister of Public Theology at All Souls Church in New York City, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at the end of last year at the age of 58. His father, Frank Church, the former Senator from Utah, died of the same cancer at age 59.

In the beginning, the outlook was grim as esophageal cancer is a particularly aggressive cancer. However, as Church started to progress through the diagnosis stage, his odds kept getting better and better. First, metastasis was not found, jumping his odds from 20-1 to 50-50. Surgery was performed. The post-op report was good with clear margins and negative lymph nodes. His odds went to 4-1 that he was cured.

Church speaks about this idea of "Beating the Odds" ...

Church writes:

If my cancer returns to kill me, it won't be unfair, only unlucky, in the same sense that I was lucky to beat the odds that seemed at first to make survival a chancy bet. Beating the odds, I slowly began to realize, had nothing to do with the stakes of the mortality table.

The truth of the matter struck me with tremendous force.

I'd beaten the odds already, won the house on a zillions to one wager fifty-eight years before the moment I was born. Think about it, and then translate this unaccountable triumph to your own precious life. Whether the odds that I will die at 59 stand at 20-1, 1-1, or 1-4 is incidental, given how astronomically long the odds were against my being alive in the first place to reckon them ...

We're talking miracles here.

Maybe we have all beaten the odds already. Just by being here.

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