This subject came up yesterday as I chatted with a new friend during chemotherapy, but it keeps resonating in my cancer-riddled brain: I feel like I'm in a really lousy club that happens to have really amazing members. Cancer has touched family members who are dear to me. Cancer has touched good friends of mine. Cancer has introduced me to new friends who are also brave in their battles. Cancer has touched the president of our church. Even my radiation oncologist is a cancer survivor. It goes on.
I recently learned that one of my favorite high school teachers has cancer. He was our choir director and our Cloggers West director. The one who introduced me to my two favorite talents, who gave me my favorite high school memories, and who put me in touch with my gaggle of girlfriends and the boy that I would marry. I had the pleasure of visiting with him on the phone before we left for Utah, and then again in person when he came to our concert in Salt Lake City. He has been a beloved teacher and mentor to many, and his influence has had ripple effects more than two decades after graduation. I always think of him gratefully every time I put on my clogging shoes, when I direct my church choir, and when I glance at a picture of my high school buddies; and I'm so glad I was able to express my appreciation to him during our visit.
As I survey the amazing people who have been in this battle -- from those just joining the ranks to those in the crossfire and those whose battle is long over -- I can't help but wonder if I should just consider myself lucky to be among such a group.
For a while I wondered if it were a chicken-and-egg question: Do only great people get cancer? Or does cancer just make people great? I think cancer is allowed to touch great people, because they are strong enough to handle such a trial. And I think cancer is allowed to touch anyone and make them great, because of its refining capabilities. So as much as I cringe saying this, it almost becomes an honor to be one of the crowd.
Someday -- hopefully a LONG time from now -- when we're all sitting in the great beyond, reflecting back on our lives and deaths, I look forward to the association with others who endured this experience called cancer. We'll have a little club: the SUCUWED's (SUrvived Cancer Until WE Died). No initiation process, since the shock and awe and all the other stuff that comes with diagnosis and treatment is worse than any hazing incident on the news. But membership has its rewards. We get experiences that come from no other source. We get miracles (regardless of whether we are cured or killed). We get cancer glasses that let us see everything as more precious than ever. We take nothing for granted. We have the ultimate appreciation for our Savior, Jesus Christ. We get astounded by outpourings of love from those around us.
I pray for Terry, my teacher, and his family. I think I know what to pray for, since I'm in the same club. I hope others who read this will pray for them, too.