Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

“I want to be sitting in Lynn’s chair,” I said, “telling her story.”

It was the summer of 1990. Helen and I were enrolled in a class at Iliff Theological Seminary, in Denver, on “Empowering the Cancer Patient.” It was five months after my surgery and four months into my twelve months of chemotherapy. I was still under the sentence of my first oncologist, “…a year or two.”

Most of the class members were Iliff students who were learning how to pastor cancer patients. A few class members were survivors, but I was the only one who was still a patient. The class coordinator was John Anduri, a cancer survivor himself, and the main teachers, both in knowledge and inspiration, were Lynn Hamilton and Paul K. Hamilton, Jr.

Twenty years before, Paul had been Lynn’s oncologist. She was barely into her twenties when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, at a time when the survival rate for that cancer was 1 [one] %. Before they had any idea that she would be in that 1%, Paul was so impressed with the poise and determination of his tall and beautiful and composed young patient that he began what was then a brand new idea, using patients to help other patients. When Lynn would walk into a hospital room, her first line was, “I’m a patient, too.” It became the title of a book. [1] Together Paul and Lynn founded CanSurmount, which became the official patient to patient support program of American Cancer Society. [2]

John Anduri asked each of us, “Where do you want to be in 25 years?” I said, “I want to be sitting in Lynn’s chair, telling her story.”

Thanks for keeping the chair warm for me, Lynn.

John Robert McFarland

1] The book is by Albert Fay Hill. about Lynn and Paul and their program.

2] [CanSurmount is active in Canada but has now been absorbed into other programs of the ACS in the US.] 

I tweet as yooper1721.

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