For more than 30 years, the National Finals Rodeo has been galloping into Las Vegas for a 10-day celebration of the Western lifestyle, with country music being a huge part of the annual early December tradition. So of course it was a no-brainer that Jo Dee Messina—she of the two platinum albums, three gold albums and six No. 1 country singles—was among the artists booked to perform this year during National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Or so it would seem. In actuality, her inclusion among the 2018 slate of NFR Week headliners was far from a certainty.

Not because of her talent or popularity—both of which are undeniable—but rather her health: In September 2017, Messina revealed that she had cancer. In recent months, the Massachusetts native has acknowledged that her treatments and ongoing road to recovery have been physically, emotionally and financially painful. At the same time, she notes that her faith has been reinvigorated, which inspired her most recent single “Reckless Love.” Whether the song is included in her set this week remains to be seen, but this much is known: The entire country music community is grateful that Messina is healthy enough to once again take the stage—and hopeful that she remains so for years to come.

Golden Nugget, 10 p.m. Dec. 6, starting at $39 plus tax and fee. 800.745.3000 Ticketmaster