In October 2011, Sybil Redmon was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. For the next year Redmon underwent chemotherapy, but became so ill she could no longer continue treatment.
Taking a respite from chemotherapy the remaining part of 2012, the cancer began to grow.
Redmon, who lives in Montgomery, Alabama, discovered that Cancer Treatment Centers of America had opened in Newnan, Georgia where she underwent a second round of chemotherapy.
Redmon maintains that she was impressed with CTCA’s approach of addressing the total person from the moment she walked into the hospital.
“They embrace spirituality, they embrace the naturopathic care as well as conventional treatment methods,” said Redmon. “Because of that the chemotherapy the second time around was a far better experience.”
Within two days of her first treatment Redmon contends she had energy and was able to maintain a fruitful quality of life she had once known.
“It was a Godsend,” said Rodman. “I felt like I was really living again.”
Tools to Equip Those Impacted by Cancer
In 2013, CTCA launched “Our Journey of Hope,” a cancer care ministry outreach program to help people like Redmon. OJOH began its cancer care ministry by traveling to churches to train church congregations on the key components needed to build a compassionate, successful cancer care ministry.
“The potential of this ministry is beyond measure,” said Rev. Percy McCray, Director of Pastoral Care at CTCA in Chicago. “Cancer has a deep spiritual and emotional impact on Cancer Treatment Centers patients and their families. The Cancer Care Leadership Training provides the tools pastors need to minister to everyone affected by this disease.”
Each CTCA hospital has a pastoral care team that is united in the purpose of encouraging patients in their faith and helping them find strength and hope in God. A pastor is available to participate in a patient’s care along with the members of the clinical and supportive care team. Additionally, the pastoral care team offers assistance and support to family members, as well as patients. Pastors also provide worship services, Bible studies, and times of prayer.
“God is love and His loving presence is experienced by our patients within the deep and warm personal relationships with their physicians, chaplains, and many others,” said Rev. Michael Barry, Director of Pastoral Care with CTCA at Eastern Regional Medical Center. “The relationships we have with our patients begin with the first step through our doors, continue while away at home, and can be described as nothing other than holy. CTCA is a special place for special people at a special time in their life.”
Turning Heartache to Hope
The American Cancer Society reports that in 2014, there will be an estimated 1,665,540 new cancer cases diagnosed and 585,720 cancer deaths in the US. Cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the US, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths.
With those kinds of numbers most churches will face the impact cancer have on its members. Statistics show that in a church with an average attendance of 200 approximately eight congregants have or have had cancer.
Furthermore, an average of one congregant will be newly diagnosed each year with the disease. For larger congregations, the number of individuals affected by cancer is multiplied.
The first step in launching a cancer care ministry is to attend a Cancer Care Leadership Training event through “Our Journey of Hope,” which are provided free of charge.
During a two-day training session, pastors and church leaders are immersed in the spiritual and practical methods of bringing hope, care and comfort through cancer care ministry. Participants receive ministry insights for addressing the specific spiritual needs of those battling cancer.
Chip Gordon, director of pastoral care for Cancer Treatment Centers of America, says the purpose of the program is to help churches learn how to more effectively help people in their congregation who have cancer.
“It is important in the journey of cancer for patients and their caregivers to realize that they do not have to fight this battle alone.”
Redmon and her husband Max now help others battling cancer through Grace Point Community Church in Wetumpka, Alabama. The Redmon’s helped to establish a small group with comprehensive curriculum as well as provide one-on-one support to those facing cancer.
“The people at Grace Point are the real deal,” said Redmon. “If you need something there is someone there that has that talent or gift.”
Redmon has been part of three different churches over her lifetime, but contends people at Grace Point are more like family than members.
“Everyday I was so sick, but would have cards, emails and Facebook messages of encouragement,” Redmon adds. “These people were all over me with love.”
On those days that she could only lay on a sofa, her church family lifted her spirits and helped her see through to another day. “While my church was already good at loving on people, when we started ‘Our Journey of Hope’ it simply equipped our church even more to better serve those with cancer.”
Three years ago Redmon was told she only had six months to live. She believes God has a purpose for giving her an extended lease on life.
“If that purpose is to none other than get the cancer care ministry going, then we’re all on board for that,” said Redmon. “Cancer Treatment Centers of America really and truly gave me my life back.”
For more information about Our Journey of Hope, go to www.ourjourneyofhope.com.
Publication date: May 28, 2014