Curing Cancer…With Cancer

by Andrew Stephens-Rennie

Homeopathy has this saying, and this understanding of disease, that “like cures like.” But to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure that’s always the case. And I’m also not so sure that the dominant medical establishment has somehow fallen in love with complementary medicine.

Yesterday as I was taking the bus to work, I found myself glancing over the shoulder of the woman sitting next to me. She was flipping through the tabloids, finding out the latest with Britney, Tom, Kanye and all the rest. As she flipped the pages, I noticed a full-page ad on the back cover. An ad for the Princess Margaret Hospital Home Lottery.

The lottery will give you a chance to win a Brand! New! McMansion! in the suburbs. Whether Woodbridge or Milton or Markham, you too have the chance to win your own castle. And with housing markets across Canada feeling prohibitive to first time buyers, what a way to jump the line…

As I thought more about the lottery, and the cause at hand, it continued to strike me as odd, if not altogether ridiculous that the medical establishment would attempt to cure cancer with another form of cancer – urban sprawl.

Cells that expand and reproduce without limit, that’s what cancer is. And that’s what suburban development is doing to our fertile soil. Such development takes healthy tracts of land, and fills them with unhealthy streets littered with cookie-cutter houses and oversized vehicles.

In a world contracting cancer from air pollution, does it make sense to promote the overuse of electricity to heat monster homes, or the necessary use of personal vehicles to get around these sprawled neighbouhoods?

I don’t much care what you think of lotteries in general, but a lottery that promotes urban cancer in the fight against cellular cancer seems, well, a little misinformed.

What do you think?

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Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Andrew is a writer, dreamer and organizer with a keen interest in developing leaders in faith, compassion and justice.

He currently serves as the Director of Missional Renewal for the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Syilx, and Ktunaxa nations. He previously served as the Director of Ministry Innovation at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC.

Andrew is cofounder and contributing editor at, and co-editor of "A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh" with Marcia Boniferro and Amanda Jagt.

One Response to “Curing Cancer…With Cancer”

  1. lizivkovich

    This is my biggest frustration with the green/Sustainability movement as it exists now, they’re constantly saying “it’s not about efficiency, it’s about redesign in a green way so we don’t have to limit consumerism.” Using consumerism to push a cause, however worthy scares me a lot.

    Good word Andy.


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