Orientation: Check?

Sunset from the Cancer Survivors’ Garden in Grant Park

Monday, December 17, 2018

This past Saturday was my orientation with the Loop Church of the Nazarene and Compassionate Ministries. For the majority of this orientation, Reuben and I spent a good three or so hours that afternoon walking around the northern portion of the Loop, in theory to get me better acquainted with the area.

However, the term orientation might be a bit misleading. Rather than feeling like I gained any reasonable acquaintance with the neighborhood, I realized just how much I don’t know about it.

It seemed that every time we walked past a building, Reuben asked if I knew what building we were walking past. Or every time we turned the corner, he asked what street we were on or which direction we were headed. Needless to say, I generally failed each of these pop quizzes.

As we were winding down from the general orientation portion of our walk, we arrived across from Millennium Park. At this point in time, I was looking up where it was that we were supposed to be having our prayer walk for that day, not realizing that we were in fact right across the street from where it would be.

As we began our prayer walk, I quickly became aware of how undisciplined my prayer life has been, how hard it was to focus on being in conversation with God, how out of practice I was at acknowledging God’s presence in the physical spaces that I occupy, and how little I’ve reflected upon the diversity of ways in which God is revealed in our interactions with those spaces.

For instance, one of the spaces that Reuben and I came to spend some time from our prayer walk in was the Cancer Survivors’ Garden. Reuben knew what this space was, but I hadn’t realized it until we began to read some of the plaques that were there. There were seven plaques total, each one marked as a step for the road to recovery. (If you want to read them, they are transcribed at the end with corresponding pictures.)

Stopping in this space to read these plaques created an opportunity for us to talk about our experience’s with loved one’s and cancer. And given some my own personal experiences with family who have been diagnosed with this awful disease, it was an especially valuable moment.

And while some might consider it a coincidence, I think that this was one of those ways in which God spoke through the spaces that we pass through.


Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells. It is the most feared disease in America, because it is not understood, even though it is not the largest killer. If we understood cancer, we would not be as afraid of it. It is estimated that the average individual has a wildly dividing cell six times a day. The immune system recognizes this, kills it, and we never know the difference. When the immune system lets down, even temporarily, and these dividing cells get established to the point that the immune system cannot control them, we have cancer.


The biggest and the hardest single thing that you will be required to do in the entire battle is to make up your mind to really fight it. You must on your own, make the commitment that you will do everything in your power to fight your disease. No exceptions. Nothing halfwat. Nothing for the sake of ease or convenience. Everything! Nothing short of it. When you have done this, you have accomplished the most difficult thing you will have to accomplish throughout your entire treatment.


Knowledge is a cancer patient’s best friend. The more you know about your disease, the better your chances are of beating it. Find out everything you can about your disease. Knowledge heals; ignorance kills. Read the book Fighting Cancer, available free from 800-433-0464.


Find a qualified physician who believes you can be successfully treated. Get an independent second opinion to be certain you are doing everything possible correctly. Do everything your physician suggests and do everything you believe might help that your physician says will not hurt. You are the boss. This is your life.

Physical Welfare

Eat a well-balanced diet to maintain an effective immune system. Do not go on any fad diets at this time. Exercise as much as you comfortably can. Be selfish, think of yourself, and do not overdo.

Mental Welfare

There are many mental exercises that could your recovery and cannot possibly hurt. Relaxation exercises are strongly recommended as stress accelerates cancer growth. Visual imagery has been demonstrated to improve the chances of success. Prayer by individuals unknown to the patient have been clinically demonstrated to improve the chances of success, so prayers by the patient could certainly help and cannot hurt. Make certain your subconscious attitude is receptive to successful treatment and keep a positive outlook.


Fighting cancer is not a simple matter of thinking positively, wishing it away and saying, ‘Hey, doc, cure me.’ It is a matter of knowledge. It is a matter of educating yourself about every detail and mustering all your resources. Use every drop of energy in an organized fashion to constructively concentrate on getting rid of cancer. Most cancers can be successfully treated, but generally you have only one chance. If you miss the first chance, if you don’t do everything in your power, often there is no second chance. This is why no cancer patient can afford the luxury of looking back and saying, “I wish I would have…” Never look back. Concentrate on this moment forward and do everything in your power. There is no downside risk. Now you may have a chance.

Author avatar
Elise Fetzer

Elise is a senior Intercultural Studies major at Olivet Nazarene University from Oak Lawn, IL. She is serving with LoopNaz as part of her cross-cultural field studies coursework.