When I was little, my name was Kathy, spelled with a “K” and a “y” at the end — just like (it seemed back then) every fourth or fifth little girl I went to school with. I grew up in the era of “Chatty Kathy” dolls, the doll that had a string you pulled and it made her talk — hence the chatty part. So the name’s popularity skyrocketed and it felt to me like there were Kathy’s everywhere I turned!
And like every little kid, I guess, I wanted to be special in some way, set apart. Now my real name was Kathleen, but to go by that very grown-up name was too much for me, so, when I was 13 or so, I began to experiment with the spelling of “Kathy”. I tried every possible way to make my average name special. Kathee, Kathie, Cathee, Cathey — you name it, I tried it. My poor teachers didn’t know which girl was turning in her homework unless I added my last name “Pengra” which wasn’t an average name at all!
By the time I turned 16, I had used the spelling “Cathie” for more than a year and my parents blessed it by legally changing my birth certificate to “Cathleen” and gave me permission to spell my name however I chose to. I celebrated that I was now officially Cathie with a “C” and an “ie” at the end. Looking back, the whole process seems a little silly, but though silly, it was important. After all, there is something in a name.
“Cancer with Christ”, our outreach to those suffering with cancer, was named carefully more than a year ago when we launched our support groups and a training for those who minister to others with cancer. The name conveyed well the message we wanted to send — Christ loves people who have cancer. And those who have responded to this outreach came seeking Christ in the midst of their suffering. We rejoice in that.
But now, it is time to change the name. Why? Well, there is something in a name and every outreach should convey a message with its name. And in that name we conveyed a good message and sadly, a not-so-good message.
Though “Cancer with Christ” describes well what we do, we found that it limits our access to a whole group of people who need Christ but don’t know it yet. It has made us exclusive — sort of a perceived “Christians only” club instead of an outreach for all who suffer with cancer, Christian or not. For some, adding Christ’s name to our name has been a hindrance. “I’m not a Christian,” I’ve heard some comment. Others with a friend with cancer hesitate to refer them to our ministry because their friend “doesn’t go to church.”
The people who need us most are the ones who are least likely to connect with us. So it is time to change the name. Because there is something in a name and every outreach should convey a CORRECT message with its name.
So “Cancer with Christ” has become “Cancer with Compassion”.
Celebrate with us and please pray that this new name will launch a new era for this important outreach and that we will touch many with the compassion, comfort and hope that only Christ can give.
Cathie with a “C” and an “ie” at the end
because there is something in a name!
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.