My youngest daughter, Tiffany, has survived a brain tumor. Between age 1 and age 23 she underwent four brain surgeries, two by the famous brain surgeon, Dr. Ben Carson who authored the book Gifted Hands (a must read).
Tiffany has a heart for hurting people. A few times a month she takes he dog, LuLu, to the hospital to visit patients. She often makes cookies for men from a rescue mission that we bring to our church. And, she serves as a counselor each summer at a camp for kids who survived cancer.
Each year this organization, Camp Quality, invites the kids, counselors and family to a dinner/dance the day after Thanksgiving.This year I took Tiffany. After dinner, Tiffany, the other counselors, and the kids took to the dance floor.
That’s when, as I fought back tears, I jotted down these thoughts in my iphone.
- We all yearn for a place where others accept us “as is.” All these kids had this in common, they battle cancer. Many that night carried the obvious evidences with them–bald heads and puffy faces due to chemo, wheelchair confinement, or visible scars from surgery. But these things didn’t matter to them. It was as if they were oblivious to each others’ physical limitations. They accepted each other “as is.” (Jer. 31.3, I have loved you with an everlasting love.)
- We all need moments when something transports us away from thoughts about our problems. One rule the camp rigidly enforces; “We will not talk about our illness.” That same spirit carried over into the comments by the director that night as she spoke of joy, hope, and future. That same spirit pulsated from the dance floor as these kids jumped, danced, and twirled to the beat of the music and the direction of the rotund DJ. (Phil. 4.8, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.)
- God’s image that He implanted into every human heart shows itself when we sacrificially give ourselves away to others. Each camper is assigned an adult that spends 24/7 with that child during camp. At this dinner the adults sit next to their ‘companion,’ as they are called, and they joyfully dance with them on the dance floor. You can see Tiffany and her companion here. One counselor whom Tiffany introduced to me, had served 15 years straight. Her effervescent personality oozed love for these kids. (Gal. 6.2, Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.)
- God wants us to celebrate each other’s milestones with great joy. Each year at the dinner, they play Pomp and Circumstances as the camp’s high school seniors march to the podium. This year only one made it. Two others couldn’t attend due to their illness. The high school senior whom the group celebrated that night had attended camp 13 years straight. Although surgery scars marred her face, she walked across the room and held her head high for she had not only survived, but thrived. After she received her ‘diploma’ the DJ began the dance music and this senior, dressed in her graduation robe, became the center of attention. The kids rushed into a circle as they danced and celebrated her milestone. My thoughts drifted back to when Tiffany graduated from high school. We weren’t sure that she would make it that night because the effects of her brain surgery often left her unable to stand on her own. The teachers had assigned a big football player type to stand at her side and help her if needed. But, with a sense of great accomplishment, she walked across the platform on her own and received her diploma. I rejoiced. Then I cried. (Rom. 12.15, Rejoice with those who rejoice.)
With my three degrees, I never expected to learn about acceptance, thinking about the good, sacrificial service, and celebration from kids who have cancer. Yet that night I committed, for Tiffany’s sake, to stay as long as she relished those magical moments with people who accepted her unconditionally.
Modifying the line from My Fair Lady, “I could have danced all night,” I could have stayed all night as Tiffany danced all night.