I follow a bunch of cancer and healthcare hashtags on Twitter. This tweet caught me off-guard.
When cancer patients complete a course of radiation or chemotherapy, many clinics have a little ceremony where the patient gets to ring a bell and all the nurses and other patients clap and cheer to mark the end of one chapter in the patient’s life and the beginning of a new one.
There were a bunch of replies to that tweet suggesting that it might be unfair to publicly celebrate an event that many cancer patients will never get to enjoy. Here’s a gentle one:
A bit of googling shows that there are people campaigning to abolish the ceremony because of the distress it causes to those people who will never get to ring the bell.
On Smart Patients, folks often feel guilty about posting good news about their treatment out of fear of offending the folks who have no good news of their own. But good news posts are invariably met by an outpouring of joy and congratulations even from those folks whose own prognosis is bleak. Of course, selection bias means that the folks who do not find joy in other folks’ good news remain silent. It’s hard to get a true picture of who loves sharing joy and who finds only sadness in other folks’ triumphs. It’s easy to sympathise with Crazy Cancer Lady:
I’m terminal too but I experience incredible joy from knowing that other people have happy moments, happy lives. To everything, there is a season.
1. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.Eclessiastes 3:1-8
I think this would be a sad world if we decided to abolish joy on the grounds that one person’s time to dance is another’s time to mourn.