Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 27, 2012 – Back from Bermuda

Claire and I have now returned from the Kick Cancer Overboard cruise to Bermuda.  Many thanks to those who contributed to the organization so we could have this opportunity!

Kick Cancer Overboard is a plucky little non-profit that’s taken on a rather unusual mission: giving away free cruises to people who have been affected by cancer.

Lest this sound to you like a frivolous mission, consider this.  When people have been through a struggle with cancer, either as patients or caregivers, often the last thing on their priority list is their own recreation and relaxation.  Cancer very often drains its victims of energy, enthusiasm, and – especially in this dysfunctional healthcare-funding system – of financial resources. Who can afford a vacation, under such circumstances?

Yet, often, a vacation is just what the doctor ordered (or would have, had he or she known about Kick Cancer Overboard).

You can view a video about Kick Cancer Overboard here.

(Passing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, outbound.)

On the cruise, Claire and I met a young couple, just married a few days before, after she had completed surgery and chemo for breast cancer.  Their wedding was a hurried affair at City Hall – rather than the church wedding they’d planned – so she could receive much-needed healthcare benefits from his employer.  This cruise was their honeymoon: the only one they could afford, I’m sure.

We had a lengthy conversation with a woman and her twentysomething niece, both of them grieving the recent loss of their sister and mother to a rare brain cancer.  The niece, daughter of the woman who’d died, felt exhausted and drained from having been her mother’s caregiver during her final illness.  The cruise was a Godsend to them both, and a way for them to reconnect with each other after their painful experience of loss.

There were whole families on the cruise, accompanied by their young, cancer-survivor children, some of the kids still showing the hair loss and facial swelling that come from chemotherapy.

Claire and I volunteered to conduct a brief, Sunday-morning worship service in the stunning chapel on our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas.  I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the group attended, even though it was 8:30 in the morning on the first full day of the cruise.

I read the story of Jesus’ healing of the paralytic from Luke 5:17-26 – the one where the man’s friends cut a hole in the roof to lower him down to receive help from Jesus.  I spoke of how important it is to assemble a posse when we’re facing something like cancer, for these people will do whatever needs to be done so we can get the help we need.

I also spoke of how Jesus’ instruction to the man is “Take up your bed and walk.” We need to assume the role of partners in our own healing.

All in all, I was impressed by the folks behind Kick Cancer Overboard – who for this year’s cruise  managed to donate themselves, or raise corporate and service-club contributions for, something like 45 all-expense-paid trips.  Their goal, they say, is to fill an entire cruise ship!

Given their energy and commitment, I think they just may get there eventually.

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