83-year-old blogger Christopher Foster on the upside to cancer (Yeah, there is one)

Sometimes a little random internet surfing changes the tenor of your days. Really, sometimes cruising from link to link takes you to a place that changes your life.

I’m privileged to have come across 83-year-old blogger Christopher Foster several years ago this way at The Happy Seeker blog. Foster writes with soul-nourishing clarity on the subject of life and aging.

Ever since I’ve been a rabid fan. I come to Chris Foster’s work as often as I can. There’s no one else writing with such wonder in the face of adversity. Few tease out love so consistently from the sometimes knotted and gnarled experience that comes our way.
Here’s an example, excerpted from his latest book, where Foster recounts hearing his diagnosis for the first time:

I listened with a mix of bewilderment and disbelief as she said she had referred me to Dr. Brown, a good surgeon she had worked with for many years, for an initial consultation. 

The call was like a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky. I mean, how could this be? Haven’t I been a seeker of truth all my life? 

It’s true that I’m not especially religious, but I am spiritual. As a child of 15, I cried out suddenly to my father one day at the lunch table in our middle-class home in South London, “I want to find the truth of life.” 

It didn’t go over very well. My dad, a veteran reporter who got his first job on a London daily newspaper when he was only 19 years old, was horrified— perhaps understandably so. We began to argue.  

“There’s no such thing as truth,” he shouted at one point as our exchange became more and more heated. I will never forget the dismay on my mother’s face as dad slapped me across the face, and without a word, churning with anger I stood and left the room.

Now, decades later, the doctor’s news left me wondering: haven’t I done my best to be true to myself and listen to my inner voice no matter where it took me? 

I’m active. I love life. I love my wife. I love nature. I try to stay fit. I go for a walk every day and lift weights three times a week. Not only that, I’m in my 80s, for goodness sake. I’ve had more than enough drama and tragedy in my life already, thank you very much. 

But cancer found me out. And though I didn’t know it at the time, as uncertainty, dismay and fear rose up in me, cancer would become my mentor. 

We have all had many teachers, many mentors through the course of our lives. When I was a young fellow looking for meaning in an alien world, I carried Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass with me in my coat pocket for two years. Wherever I went, Walt went too. 

But cancer can be a teacher too. The root of the word “education” is the Latin “educo,” to draw forth. Cancer, as I’ve mentioned, has the power to draw forth from us qualities of our true nature essential to a courageous, happy, meaningful life.

This is just the beginning of a spiritual adventure for Christopher Foster, one you’ll be glad to have joined. 

I’ve never had cancer. This is emphatically not a book solely for cancer patients and their kith and kin. I’ve not had cancer but I’ve had life. I’ve had setbacks and I’ve experienced glories. If you live somewhere between these those extremes of the human condition, this book is for you.

Do yourself a favor and check out Christopher Foster’s book The Upside of Cancer: How a Feared Illness Led Me to Courage, Wisdom and Inner Peace

For you 

Evan Griffith
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