When I found out it was lung cancer that was making me sick, a friend from church wrote a sweet note saying, “Welcome to the club nobody wants to join.” In the ensuing days and weeks, others who have traveled this road have come to my attention, sharing from their experiences and welcoming me into a community of people with survivor instincts. Their words of advice and comfort have been particularly meaningful to me.
I have also discovered in this process that milestones must be celebrated with some kind of ritual, just for fun, yes, but to mark progress and to acknowledge what is happening. For instance, the night before I started chemo, we enjoyed fellowship with friends—among them several Presbyterian elders— who gather monthly for “family dinner.” They laid hands on me and prayed for the success of my treatment, according to James 5:13-15. (Prayers are being answered!) Last night I celebrated the end of Round 2 and its after-effects by going to a movie, my first one in months, and I didn’t fall asleep midway through! Woo-hoo! Moments like this must be marked, and we will continue the practice until cancer is a thing of the past in my life. When that day arrives, we’re throwing one heck of a party, I promise you.
Rituals and celebrations are a part of human experience, and this is nothing new. In Luke’s account of Jesus’ nativity, the angel pointed to an important Jewish milestone: on the eighth day after his birth, Jesus would be circumcised and officially named. Luke’s report was short and sweet: “After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21).