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 Ringer 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.  Together Paul and Lynn founded CanSurmount, the patient to patient support program of The ACS.
In class one day, John Anduri asked each of us to answer this question: Where do you want to be in twenty years?
I said, “I want to be in Lynn’s chair, telling her story.”
It’s been 27 years today since my emergency surgery started me on the cancer journey. Surviving twenty years was more than I could even imagine then. I’m sitting in Lynn’s chair, saying that any day you survive is a gift.
John Robert McFarland
I tweet as yooper1721.
If you want to read more about my journey… NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life and Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them. Published by AndrewsMcMeel.