Parents of prodigals struggle deeply with the challenges they face of relating to their wayward offspring. Siblings, spouses, and children of prodigals face similar struggles. How do you live for Christ in the midst of such personal turmoil? How do you live with a grown child whose destructive choices have turned him into a person so much unlike the adorable offspring into whom you poured much of yourself? Ultimately, how do you bear the pain if that prodigal never returns?
In this book, Dr. Craig Svensson and his wife, Sue, show how they are no strangers to such deeply devastating circumstances. Svensson sensitively, engagingly, and compassionately directs readers to Scripture as he helps create the biblical framework for addressing the trauma of having a prodigal in the family.
Craig Svensson has written a very moving and very needed book with a unique perspective for parents of prodigal children. While clearly hope-giving, this book is also filled with biblical candor and lament, as well as wisdom-for-parenting-life.
—Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., VP/Academic Dean at Faith Bible Seminary, Lafayette, Indiana
For pastors, counselors, mentors, and friends of the parents of prodigals, Dr. Svensson’s work should be the first resource they read to provide the most helpful guidance during this life-consuming trial.”
—Brent Aucoin, Ph.D., Pastor of Seminary and Soul Care Ministries, Faith Church, Lafayette, Indiana
I visited bookstores in my professional and personal travels across the country with a simple question to the booksellers: “What book would you recommend to someone diagnosed with an incurable, but not fatal, illness?” The frequent response was a perplexed look, sometimes accompanied by scratching the head or chin. At best, they directed me to books focused on living a healthy lifestyle—often through a diet plan of unproven value. A few pointed to books focused on a very specific disease. These invariably dealt with an unconventional and poorly supported approach to treatment. But the booksellers with whom I visited were at a loss for a book addressing the many issues faced by those of us living with incurable ailments leading to many years of an altered lifestyle:
• How do we get physicians to take our health complaints seriously?
• Where do we turn when doctors acknowledge our ailment with upturned hands and confess they don’t know how to help?
• How do we deal with the overwhelming sense of loss with an untreatable diagnosis—one sure to produce profound changes in our life?
• How do we address those whose reaction to our ailment increases our suffering?
• Can we live well with inescapable pain?
• How do we avoid living in a state of fear when facing an uncertain prognosis?
• Should we try to keep our disease a secret from others?
• How do we choose between treatment options when each could cause harm?
• How do we tell if new symptoms are from our chronic disease or signs of some new ailment?
• How do we live with regret when an ailment is a result of choices we made?
• How can those who love us help?
As a pharmacist and biomedical scientist living with several incurable ailments, I understand the travails patients with chronic illness face. I wrote to help patients and those who care for them find answers to these important questions. When There Is No Cure provides encouragement and hope to those navigating the troubled waters of chronic illness.
“I wanted to cry just reading the table of contents. The author gets it! He understands the lonely path of those of us with chronic illness.”
—Elizabeth, a patient with lupus
“This is a book that I wholeheartedly recommend for fellow sufferers of a chronic disease. It takes the reader on a journey that covers many of the concerns a person with a chronic disease has—such as how you can handle your illness, how to interact with doctors, how to handle other people’s responses to your illness, and how others can help. I will use this as a guide in my journey with my chronic disease.”
—Lisa, a patient with dermatomyositis
“You can feel the pain of his maladies and yet the author’s powerful commitment to not allow it to affect the responsibilities of a father, a husband, or an educator. Most of all, I was moved by his heart in honestly sharing the journey that it might offer encouragement to those who find themselves similarly afflicted when there is no cure. This book should be required reading by every medical student.”
—Edward Langston, MD, family physician (retired) and former chairman of the Board of Trustees for the American Medical Association
“This book touched my heart. It is filled with practical advice and hope for patients and healthcare providers. Very pertinent and encompassing, it is filled with pearls of wisdom. This book should be on the reading list of all who care for, live with, or know individuals with chronic suffering. His journey and acquired wisdom are a reminder that people can thrive despite a chronic disorder and that indeed ‘life is more than good health.’”
—Charles E. Sanders, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR, rheumatologist and former vice president of medical education and research, Mount Carmel Health System
Would you want a plumber piloting the next plane you board? A chef to give a second opinion on the advisability of surgery? Perhaps a grocer to assess the structural integrity of the bridge you are about to cross? No? Then why ask legislators or neighbors to decide a drug is safe and effective for patient use? Citizens and legislators in 29 states have done this with marijuana. Advocacy groups successfully lobbied several state legislatures to approve the sale of a non-intoxicating cannabis oil for treatment of certain types of epilepsy. Forty states and the US Congress have decided to override federal regulators and open patient access to experimental drugs through right-to-try legislation. Such actions are an unwise foray into activities we should leave to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
First, legislators and the average citizen are not qualified to assess if a treatment is safe and effective—anymore than they are qualified to assess the safety of a plane to fly. These decisions require substantial expertise and access to critical data regarding the drug product. The esteemed members of our state and federal legislatures possess neither.
Major legislation shaping the authority of the FDA has repeatedly arisen in response to unsafe products on the market. One early example is the Massengill Massacre of 1937, in which about 100 people died from a liquid preparation of a sulfa drug. The drug was both safe and effective—but because of the use of a toxic solvent to dissolve the drug to create a liquid form, the product was lethal. Consequently, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was passed in 1938 requiring the FDA to assess the safety of drug products. This requires careful evaluation of the total product, not just the active ingredient. Our legislators lack the information and expertise to make such evaluations.
Second, history shows the error of past decisions by legislators approving medical therapies in response to advocacy groups. By the mid-1980s, 27 states legalized the sale of the dubious cancer treatment laetrile. Subsequent studies demonstrated the ineffectiveness of laetrile beyond reasonable doubt. In the meantime, state legislative action approving this therapy encouraged patients to forgo proven treatments for an unregulated remedy of unknown quality. Federal legislators made similar missteps. Under pressure from Congress in 1994, the office controlling federal worker health benefits mandated insurance plans cover bone marrow transplant and high dose chemotherapy for breast cancer—at the time an unproven experimental treatment. Subsequent studies demonstrated the treatment did not improve patient survival.
Third, we jeopardize the health of our citizens by asking legislators to take on a responsibility for which they are not able to provide appropriate safeguards. Despite a rigorous evaluation system before marketing, the FDA regularly oversees recalls of lots of approved drugs due to inadvertent contamination with unsafe components. This contamination most commonly occurs through problems with the manufacturing process. No such safety net exists to detect and respond to these inadvertent contaminants in a product when state legislators approve the sale of medical therapies not sanctioned by the FDA.
The heart breaking experience of patients with ailments having no approved effective treatments deserves a compassionate response. But opening the door to products of unknown quality which lack sufficient evidence of safety or effectiveness places the health of the public at risk. The federal drug approval process is imperfect, but it protects us from unsafe products. Congress created the FDA and authorized the agency to assemble experts to fulfill this task. Our elected officials are in no position to evaluate medical treatments and we should not pressure them to do so.