I have a confession: I write poetry. And this summer, I took a big leap and entered the poetry contest at the local County Fair.
Apparently, the Fair doesn’t notify winners ahead of time.
That would be too humane.
Instead, they make you hunt for the plaza where the poetry entries are displayed. And once you’ve stumbled onto the plaza, they make you wander through the displays seeing countless ribbons attached to other people’s work.
You hope. You pray. Maybe one of your entries will have a ribbon next to it. Okay, probably not a big ‘first prize’ ribbon, but maybe a small ‘honorable mention’ ribbon.
I hunted for my entries. Ultimately, I discovered that I lost. Or, at least, I didn’t win.
With the dull ache of disappointment still clinging to my stomach, the poetry reading began. Winner after winner stood up and read their work. Many poems were exceptionally-crafted and a few were mediocre. Nevertheless, I clapped with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.
Then it was my turn. I had agreed to read my work when I felt confident of victory. But now, I had to present my poems, which were apparently worse than mediocre. I wanted to cry.
But I stood up, walked to the microphone and explained that it was my first time reading my poems in public. And do you know what the other poets did? They clapped – loudly and enthusiastically.
Miraculously, the ache in my stomach disappeared. I actually felt uplifted as I read my poems. And I am ready to try again.
I think there must be magical healing powers in the support of our peers. Even hugs from my family couldn’t soothe my raw feelings the way that round of applause did.
The nods of encouragement. The supportive smiles. They have impact and strength.
Poets can get that strength from other poets. Lung cancer survivors can find that strength in other survivors.
Whether it is a golf outing in Illinois, a mocktail contest in Pennsylvania or one of the many Breathe Deep events that are held nationwide, every LUNGevity event is an oasis of support and healing.
These events are critical wells of strength for survivors and caregivers. By embracing the magic of applause at every LUNGevity event, we can help each other persevere.