One of the most common ways for people to challenge those of us who believe that we manifest what happens in our lives is to bring up cancer. How, they ask, can someone manifest that awful disease? Or any disease, for that matter?

I don’t pretend to have the answer to that. In fact, the very idea of trying to answer it makes me squirm. However, in some cases, people with the disease seem very clear about its explanation. Not that they deserved it or wanted it, but that it happened to them to make them stronger or more humble or less angry or more appreciative. Or something. And of course the neat and tidy reasons and theories give some of us a sense of — what? — order.

Matthew Zachary, who came into my life via a freelance editing job a few months ago, gave my view of cancer, or surviving cancer, a jolt. Matt wrote a jarring piece for his website — — that is so disturbingly frank about living post-cancer I found myself reading it rather than editing it the first time. His site (he’s the founder and executive director of I’m Too Young For This!) was recently nominated as one of Time magazine’s best websites of 2007. He then submitted the edited piece called “The Cost of Living: No Cure For Cancer” to The Huffington Post and they accepted it — — and offered him a blogging gig. Just terrific.

Now I must confess I am tempted to explain this away. I know it is over-the-top presumptuous of me to try, but my Susie Sunshine side kicks in and wonders if, in the grand Universal scheme, Matthew Zachary isn’t meant to get out a message that needs to be heard in high places. Does this explain his level of suffering or enduring health issues? Who am I to say? Maybe I’m just searching for … order.

Perhaps it’s my mere mortal self reaching for answers and hoping against hope for a silver lining to a very dark cloud.