Spotlight Interview: Dan Dewitt and the Chronicles of Cancer

Dan Dewitt is a good friend of the show, a writer and the director of the Center for Worldview and Culture at Southwest Baptist University. He is the writer and artist responsible for

He joined Mornings with Carmen to talk about a recent post on the Chronicles of cancer in the life of CS Lewis. This year, 2024 is the first year the US expects more than 2 million new cancer diagnoses. Many, many of you are battling with cancer or have family members who are, and so I believe you will receive this interview as a healing balm. 

This is an edited excerpt of an interview from Mornings with Carmen. To hear the entire interview, listen online at, on the My Faith Radio App or wherever you get podcasts.

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Carmen: Dan, drawing again from a post at Let’s talk about the Chronicles of Cancer in the life of CS Lewis. 

Dan: Well, I posted this from an article that I’d written a few years back, and I resurfaced it because in preparing to go to Ireland in the near future and to England, with the CS Lewis class that I teach at the university at Southwest Baptist University, taking those students to Ireland to where CS Lewis is from. And then we’re going to go to England and spend time at Oxford University and go to CS Lewis’s home. And while we’re at his home, I’m going to read this essay and the title of the essay is Aslan Knows Best, the Chronicles of Cancer in the Life of CS Lewis. And so as I’ve studied CS Lewis and I’ve had the opportunity to teach about Lewis in different university classes, I’m always kind of, I guess it’s true for all of us, cancer touches our life in so many deep ways that I don’t know there’s anyone probably listening who’s not affected in some way by cancer touching the life of someone they know and love.

But for Lewis, it seemed like everywhere he turned, cancer was showing up. At one point he thought he had cancer. His mom died from cancer right before he turned 10 years old. That’s a part of his faith journey away from belief in God. Years later, he married an American woman, Joy Davidman. And shortly after getting married, she was diagnosed with cancer. And anyone who knows Louis’s story would know that he had a civil ceremony where he made it legal for her to stay in England. And then later after she was diagnosed with cancer, he wrote to CS Lewis, wrote to Dorothy Sayers, a good friend of his, and he remarked in that letter about hearing Joy’s cancer diagnosis that you quickly learned to love what you believe you might lose. And it was there in the hospital room in many ways that Lewis fell in love with Joy.

He had a student named Peter Bide who he called upon to come visit him. And Peter Bide, on one occasion had prayed for a boy with cerebral meningitis and the boy was miraculously healed. So CS Lewis asked Peter, who is an ordained minister and married him and Joy in a sacred marriage because Lewis believed that to be truly married, you had to be married by the church, not just a civil ceremony. So Peter agreed to that reluctantly because Joy was divorced. And then Lewis asked Peter to pray for Joy to be healed. And Peter was worried about that, that he’d be considered a healer. He had written Lewis earlier telling him, I don’t want to be considered a healing preacher. Peter prayed for her and she was miraculously healed. The cancer went into remission. The doctors were all shocked. Peter gets home and Peter’s wife is diagnosed with cancer.

Peter’s wife died of cancer. Around the same time Joy did after Joy’s cancer came back from remission. But while Lewis’ wife was sick, and I’ll wrap this segment up with this, there was an American fan of Lewis who wrote him a letter and asked how Joy was doing. And CS Lewis wrote back, he said, Aslan knows best whether to leave her with me or take her home to be with him. He will do what is right. One of the things I love about Joy’s final words, she shared, I’m at peace with God. And then to CS Lewis, she said, You’ve made me happy. It’s such a wonderful picture of an ugly disease, but a beautiful relationship in the midst of it. And a God who’s always faithful.

Carmen: You have me thinking, what if each one of us were to write our own chronicles of cancer? What would that look like? And I confessed to you, I hadn’t ever really thought about that before, but I have a chronicle of cancer in terms of the people throughout my life who have in some cases dealt with and moved on. And in other cases it has been the thing that ultimately robbed them of their years and their life. 

I had godparents when I was little and they had one daughter a couple of years younger than me, and her name was Anne. And very, very early in Ann’s life, she was diagnosed with cancer of the retina. And 50 years ago, and I don’t know if this is still true, but 50 years ago when it got to the stage where they were concerned that it might escape the eye, they removed the eye.

And so they took her first eye when she was two and her second eye when she was three. And so I grew up with Anne as a person who was blind, but I grew up with her also as a person who saw so much more than many people ever do. She was an extraordinary lover of the Lord and had a boundless, adventuresome spirit and would run on the beach to the sound of the seagulls and just a beautiful, beautiful faith. 

She wrote poetry and was even able to start college at Carleton in Minnesota before the cancer returned yet again and robbed her of her life when she was 21. And then I had a cousin, Angie, who when we were both 13, she contracted leukemia and I remember sending letters and writing, drawing pictures that we would send to Houston where she was in the hospital. And then ultimately that’s where she died just before my 14th birthday. And I wouldn’t have ever thought about that as a part of a chronicle of cancer in my life, but it certainly is. 

So if you’re listening right now and you’re saying to yourself, I have a chronicle of cancer, maybe spend some time writing that down and just talking about how this one disease in so many forms, cancer is a whole category. But you guys know because I shared with you that my nephew Larry had cancer when he was little contracted when he was in the second grade and now he’s 21 and the one we call the giant Larry the Giant. Yeah. I mean, he is a big kid and he has a beautiful spirit, but he also holds life loosely. I mean, he really does. He’s like, I’m going to do these things that I’m passionate about because life is short because he had friends who didn’t survive when he was little. 

And so, thank you Dan for this because, I do have a chronicle of cancer.

Dan: Well, the great reminder, I think for everyone who is following after Jesus, that the great truth of the Christian faith is he never leaves us. We walk through some dark valleys, but he never leaves us. And when this life is over, he will receive us. So this body will fail us, but we will live with him forever. And if anyone’s listening who is going through their own chronicle of cancer now, just please be encouraged knowing that you’re not alone and that God, even though he may seem a million miles away, will be with you every step of the way.

Carmen: Amen. Amen. Thank you so much, brother, and blessings on you as you prepare to travel east.

Listener’s Guide: What’s Next?

After hearing an interview like this one, it can be easy to move on to the next thing on our to-do list, but instead, let’s take a moment to pause, reflect on what we have heard and consider how God might be asking us to respond.

After the show, I received a response after this interview from listener, Ruth, from Red Wing, MN about her own Chronicle of Cancer. She writes: 

Hi Carmen, thank you for sharing the story of your friend Anne who lost both her eyes to retinoblastoma as a child 50 years ago. I am sorry for your tragic loss of your friend at age 21 when she was a student at Carleton in Northfield.

The advances in the years since Anne was born are amazing. Until around 1900, this cancer was not survivable. The next generation survived without sight. The next generation survived with some vision.  The generation now can survive and keep their eyeball, even if they’ve lost vision! 

This is Ruth, in Red Wing.  My mom studied at Saint Olaf, in Northfield, and we lived there when I was young.  I lost my left eye to retinoblastoma at 23 months old. In 1986 they were able to treat small tumors that appeared in my right eye with cryotherapy and chemotherapy so my right eye was saved.  I was among the first generation to not receive radiation, because they discovered radiation treatment greatly increased the chance of second cancers in retinoblastoma patients.  My parents always told me there were so many people praying for me around the world. Genetic testing in adulthood revealed that I had the heritable form of retinoblastoma, and a 50% chance of passing along this genetic condition to my children. 

One of my three children did develop two tumors in her left eye. She recently celebrated her seventh birthday and the milestone of now graduating to only annual eye exams.  Her tumors were treated with lasers and systemic chemotherapy, and the newest innovation, interarterial chemotherapy. Interarterial chemotherapy delivers a very small dose of chemo through the ophthalmic artery to the tumor. Catching the cancer early because of genetic testing and the interarterial chemotherapy saved her eye.  Around the time of my daughter’s last treatment, a woman we knew through our husband’s ministry told my husband firmly, “God is going to heal your daughter.” And she never had another tumor. 

This is a very rare cancer that occurs at the same very low rate around the world. Of course, I’m telling you about life in a wealthy country such as the U.S.. in some countries, there are still children who do not have access to life-saving or sight saving care. 

Thank you for sharing about cancer on Mornings with Carmen.

Ruth, Red Wing, MN

Ruth shared how cancer has directly affected her life and the lives of those she loves, a story so many of us share. I am wondering— what is your Chronicle of Cancer? And as Dan shared about CS Lewis and Joy Davidman, what is your testimony to God’s faithfulness in the midst of such a ruthless disease? You may still be in the middle of your Chronicle and cannot yet see how the story ends, or you may be reflecting on things long past. 


  • In what ways can you mark God’s provision and goodness in your Chronicle? 
  • How do Joy’s last words, “I’m at peace with God,” stir your heart? Where do you need to find peace with God?


  • Dan reminded us that the great truth of the Christian faith is that Jesus never leaves us. What verses can you meditate on and pray to remind your heart of that truth? Some ideas: Psalm 23, 43, 44, 46 and 91, Isaiah 41:10; Romans 8, specifically verses 18-39.


  • One of the great ways we remember God’s faithfulness is by writing down the testimony and story of God’s goodness. If you haven’t already journaled or written down your chronicle, write it down today.
  • If this topic is striking a cord for you, and you would like to go deeper— consider reading A Grief Observed, which CS Lewis wrote after watching his wife Joy’s journey with cancer. It is a vulnerable and honest look at faith and great suffering.