Cancer—Does Taking Chemotherapy Display a Lack of Faith?

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by Tim Chaffey on July 1, 2013; last featured June 3, 2018
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The bright orange fluid snaked down the IV tube toward the port in my arm. Within seconds the Idarubacin would enter my body. Questions raced through my mind. Would this chemotherapy be effective? Would its side effects kill me? Would I see my children grow up? I tried to imagine that the chemo drug was just Kool-Aid or Tang, but I knew better.

Years have passed since I made the fateful decision to undergo four grueling rounds of chemotherapy, and since September 2006, I have been in remission. Strangely, although I didn’t want leukemia and certainly don’t want it to return, I would never trade the experience. God tremendously blessed me during my cancer battle, and He has given me opportunities to minister to others in similar circumstances.

People have told me that juiced carrots or other natural remedies would have cured my condition. I understand the sensitivity of this issue, and I am not against trying these methods, but frankly, given my grave condition these “cures,” by themselves, would have been the death of me. We know of no foods that would stop the proliferation of mutated white blood cells that almost killed me.

Some Christians have even told me that taking chemotherapy demonstrates a lack of faith. They seem to think that following a doctor’s advice, at least in this case, is rejecting God’s ability to heal. Some have also objected to chemotherapy because it necessarily kills both the good and bad cells. I have firsthand experience with many awful effects of this toxic treatment, but I cannot see why we should view chemotherapy in a different light than other medical treatments. Yes, chemo kills good cells along with the bad, but so does amputation of a diseased limb or replacement of a torn ACL. Why is chemotherapy viewed differently?

Christians have told me that taking chemotherapy means rejecting God’s ability to heal.

Read about Tim Chaffey’s orderal with leukemia in an excerpt from his book, God and Cancer.

Ever since Adam sinned, man has had to deal with death and disease. Jesus spoke approvingly of the role of doctors in curing the sick, using it to illustrate His mission of saving sinners (Luke 5:31–32).

God can miraculously deliver a person (Mark 2:8–12), but He often uses people and medicine to provide healing (Luke 10:33–35; 1 Timothy 5:23). Chemotherapy may not be the best solution in every case, but it may sometimes be just what God has arranged as a cure. So please take care not to increase a suffering person’s burden with unsolicited advice.

Hopefully, you never face the decision to undergo chemo for cancer. But if you do, don’t discount your doctor’s expertise. Inform yourself on all sides of the issue, seek the guidance of the Great Physician, and make a wise decision with your family and doctor (Proverbs 11:14).

Tim Chaffey holds a master of divinity degree in apologetics and theology and a ThM in church history and theology from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is content manager for Answers in Genesis’s Ark Encounter theme park.

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July – September 2013

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