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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Frodo, cancer and Michael Lewis

Whenever he despairs about having cancer, Michael Lewis, below, remembers a sceneLewis with Frodo and Gandalf in the 2001 movie, “Fellowship of the Ring.”

The scene has Frodo resting in a cavern, talking with the benevolent wizard Gandalf.  Frodo has been entrusted with a gold ring that belongs to the Dark Lord Sauron. Frodo’s task is to destroy the ring by throwing it in a river of lava that flowed from the mountain where the spirit of the evil lord lives. But he is overwhelmed by the perilous assignment.

“I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened,” he says to Gandalf.

“So do all who live to see such times,” Gandalf replies. “But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Lewis learned that he had prostate cancer in February 2008 and had surgery to remove his prostate that May. When this happened, he said he understood Frodo’s doubts.

“Like Frodo, my overwhelming wish was that none of this had ever happened, that this disease had never come upon me,” Lewis said. “My prevailing thought was why. Why this? Why now? Why me? It was a huge burden, and one I had no desire to bear.”

Lewis, 45, was one of the featured speakers at last week’s Cancer Survivor Symposium. The series of lectures are sponsored by Mary Washington Hospital’s Regional Cancer Center. Last week’s topic was the emotional and spiritual impact of cancer.

Lewis is a certified registered nurse anesthetist at the hospital. He and his wife, Cathy, live in Spotsylvania County.

He said he wondered if the disease was an act of divine retribution, payback for his shortcomings.

“Was God angry at me?” he asked.

Eventually, his “internal ruckus” was silenced when Lewis realized that he was not alone in his pain, that God would always be with him.

“He promised never to leave us, never to forsake us, to be with us until the end,” Lewis said.

Lewis said he still has moments of frustration, but he is grateful for the time he’s been given.

As Gandalf might have said, “All we have to do is decide what to do with the time he has given us.”

An earlier posting about another of the speakers at the symposium can be found HERE.