New in the St. Paul’s Bookshop, Chemo Pilgrim: An 18-week Journey of Healing and Holiness by the Rev. Cricket Cooper is a very personal book of illness, spirituality, and healing.
The Rev. Cooper, an Episcopal priest, received a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, for which she would need to undergo an 18-week/six-cycle chemotherapy treatment plan. She decided to pair each of the chemo treatments, if possible, with a pilgrimage to some holy site or religious community. The journey’s sharp ups and downs led her to understand that there is one path and we travel it together—sometimes to unexpected places.
After counting down the 18 weeks of the chemo, much to her oncologist’s (and Cooper’s) chagrin, the cancer was not cured. The book recounts her subsequent month of radiation therapy. Cooper’s terror of this treatment was allayed when she was able to see the radiation as “Healing Light” and realize that December—her radiation month—is also the month of the Jewish Festival of Lights, of the Solstice, of Christian Advent/Nativity/ Epiphany and other faith-based celebrations of light.
Taking as her meditation the Episcopal Collect for Advent 1: “Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light,” she explored what this might mean beyond the context of Advent and in her own situation.
While waiting for the “all-clear” report from the doctors, Cooper faces residual issues of moving from the status of being a patient to the status of being “a survivor.”
You do not need to have or have had cancer to appreciate this book. Any of life’s adversities will do. This book is peppered with wisdom, including the deepest of wisdoms – differentiating pain from suffering.
St. Paul’s Bookshop is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Sunday hours will resume after Labor Day weekend.
Profits from the Bookshop support outreach at St. Paul’s.