Reverend R. A. Shackles

I sit looking through a wide expanse of windows overlooking a beautiful planting of pine trees and ornamental grasses. There is a lovely waterfall at one end, a touch that never fails to draw the sense of tranquility only well-planted gardens give. Beyond that, a steady stream of traffic passes, including a large number of ambulances.

I’m sitting in the infusion room of the Johnson Family Cancer Center on the campus of a major medical center. I am, much to my a sense of continuing surprise, not a visitor but a patient. The infusion room is where I and as many as fifteen or more others are receiving chemotherapy. The identifying “infusion room” has a rather somber, even defeatist sound

I am now part of a tremendously fascinating fellowship—cancer patients hoping for their turn to say, “I’m a survivor!”Actually I am one of the luckier ones.My cancer – lymphoma – I am told is one of the easier to cure. Still it demands much – like sitting for three hours one day to receive my healing “cocktail,” an hour again the next day and, two days later, an injection to control the effects of the first two day.

As I said, “infusion” has a depressingly clinical, technical ring to it – a mystic process endured because it is the way cancer has to be treated. But I am anything but depressed or threatened. The cancer is tragedy, indeed. But the mood, the atmosphere in this busy treatment room is one of tranquility akin to the quiet beauty I observe through the windows. For I discovered in this cancer center there is no depression.We all know why we are there. But in this facility there is a difference because the mood is joy, the conscious awareness that for all of us, there is a new hope, fostered by a settled spiritual depth of confident faith.

It feeds the strength of a very competent staff, all of whom confidently expect that healing of cancer for all of us. There is a gentle, happy attitude in every staff member. The realization comes that this is genuine. It is not a “a good face” of hope against hope. Literally every staff member believes in their work and each brings to it a joy – often verbally expressed – that, as they say, it is so good to help us patients through rather daunting challenges to our competent ure.

So, halfway through my scheduled treatments, I sit – anchored to a drip stand —looking out into a world seeming cruel to many, for falling victim to cancer, but now seeing a new community for me in which again and again caring health professionals at many levels show me clearly that I am their special concern. And out of this, a time and place thought, expected to be depressing, has come a fresh, new assurance that I know – as the others perceive – a blessed tranquility I had not expected. The cancer center —integrated by this strong influence of faith practiced — is a comfortably happy community where everyone is known and respected by name— just as the witness of our Lord teaches us things ought to be. The world I look out on from that infusion room is a precious gift, not a threat.And I thank God for being brought here where hope is certainly fulfilled. I am grateful—and I’m getting better! Who can say there are no miracles?