Chemo Pilgrim

An 18-Week Journey of Healing and Holiness

Cricket Cooper

Feb/2017, 192 Pages, Paperback, 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN-13: 9780819233134



An original take on the journey into and through healing.

In the first section of this very personal book of illness, spirituality, and healing, the Rev. Cricket Cooper receives a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, for which she will need to undergo an eighteen-week/six-cycle chemo treatment plan. She decides 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 lead her to the understanding that there is one path, and we travel it together—sometimes to unexpected places. After counting down the eighteen weeks of the chemo, much to her oncologist’s (and Cooper’s) chagrin, the cancer is not cured, and she must move on to radiation therapy.

The next section follows her month of radiation. Cooper’s terror of this treatment is allayed when she is 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 explores what this might mean beyond the context of Advent and in her own individual situation.

The book’s final section covers waiting for the “all-clear” report from the doctors and Cooper’s residual issues of moving from the status of being a patient to the status of being “a Survivor.” It is a time of relief tinged with at least a bit of uncertainty, but buoyed by the knowledge that cancer is not just a diagnosis, and not just a journey; today, cancer is a community that welcomes you into its midst.

Cricket Cooper has been an ordained Episcopal priest since 1989. Shocked by her cancer diagnosis three days before her 51st birthday, she also saw it as a gift, in that she felt well enough to plan a series of pilgrimages to holy sites of various traditions. She was hungry, in this time of personal crisis, to open herself up to experience God/the Sacred in fresh ways from different viewpoints and traditions and to discover how they might lead a pilgrim to healing and acceptance. She resolved to focus on the blessings and gifts, not the fear and anxiety. Cricket has a degree in Creative Writing from Northwestern University and has been published by Forward Movement and Bride's magazine. She lives in Dalton, Massachusetts.

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