I was born into a Christian Science family in 1977. All but one of my grandparents were Christian Scientists. I had a very happy childhood. Thankfully my parents would be 'bad Christian Scientists' at times and if my brother of I were ill did take us to the doctor on rare occasions when necessary. For the usual childhood illnesses I was always told how I was 'God's perfect child' and that any manifestation of illness was no part of me.
Leaving Christian Science
I left CS without too much difficulty when I was seventeen. I had been having doubts about Christian Science from the age of fourteen. Talks with a Catholic friend revealed to me that CS did not say what the Bible said. This didn't bother me too much as I didn't at that time believe the Bible to be God's Word - why should it be believed over Science and Health? Things changed when I started 'A' level RE. The three Christians in the class amazed me at their confidence in the Bible as the infallible word of God. I came to share their belief and then had to face what it said to me. It told me I was a sinner facing just judgement - I knew I was deserving of an eternity away from God. Thankfully it also told me of a Saviour who hung in my place on a cross to bear away those sins.
My mother's illness
In 1999 my mother became ill with Ovarian Cancer. This was a truly terrible time. It was four months of watching her health go dramatically down hill before my father (a liberal Christian Scienctist) forced her to go to the doctors. Before this time the practitioner and her father encouraged her not to give in to our requests that she seek medical help. By this time she had lost a huge amount of weight, was swollen with fluid as if she were nine months pregnant and unable to eat anything but the smallest amount of liquidised food. Despite this she remained confident a healing was just around the corner. The doctor sent her straightaway to hospital and thankfully she co-operated. After surgery she began chemotherapy. I often drove her to these sessions and on the way she would say how it was against her wishes. I haven't felt guilty for that because the treatment gave me an extra three years with my mother and gave her back a great quality of life.
Her relapse followed a similar pattern of resisting medical help before the family forcing the issue. (Interestingly, before she accepted medical help again, her practitioner died prematurely - not a great advert for CS)
I had a good relationship with my mother and she didn't bear any grudge for our opposition. This is even more amazing considering she believed our acceptance that she was ill hindered her from receiving a healing. Ultimately she died feeling she had failed spiritually.
Other family members
Other negative experiences with CS include the time my Grandad did not get any help for a friend who had a stroke and the fact that he died of a heart attack with a CS nurse present - no help was sought. I often wonder if he would still be here now if his condition had been picked up earlier by a doctor. My Grandmother (who I never met) died of breast cancer in the 60s trying in vain to obtain a CS healing. A cousin of my mother's refused medical help, believing CS could heal her cancer - she also died, probably needlessly.
How Christian Science affected me
Christian Science left me with a very warped view of 'the medical' - it has been hard to shake off that feeling that they will do you harm! After leaving it I suffered for some months with an agonizing condition before finally seeking help - I just felt inwardly that a doctor would be angry with me for wasting time and I felt responsibile for my condition despite it being beyond my control. Gradually though the CS influence is getting less and less - If I am ill now I rarely feel as if it is my fault. I am glad to see the declining numbers of the church and do hope that in my lifetime it ceases to exist!'