Walls (and words) can heal, too


At this moment in time, November 2020, when metaphorical political, socio-economic and racial walls so deeply divide us, I want to tell you about an actual wall. A wall of words so affecting that it changed my life. Perhaps you, too, will find healing in hearing about it.

Would that I could show it to you, take you into the waiting room of the Radiation Oncology Department at Mary Greeley Hospital in Ames! But, alas, the display that covered the entire west wall since 2013 was taken down in May of 2020.

But picture this: Lining the top of the layout were 23 ribbons, signifying the 23 types of cancer, each with its own color. In the center was a quote by Thomas S. Monson, on a white background with a black border: “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” And, artfully arranged on the wall in varying colors and fonts, were 21 words or phrases staff found to have a healing effect on patients. They were: Courage. Legacy. Be Brave. Endurance. Hope. Journey. Trust. Victory. Patience. Perseverance. Family. Believe. Peace. Determination. Find Joy. Thrive. Resilience. Knowledge. Love. Faith. Grace.

A wall of inspirational words was on display at Radiation Oncology Department at Mary Greeley Hospital in Ames.

Coming upon this wave of positive words in 2018 was like finding an oasis in a desert. I had been on an arduous cancer journey for more than six months when I was facing radiation treatments. Concurrently, I was suffering from a malady common to news junkie — political news overload, much of it about walls. (The need to process a year’s worth of news every week had begun.) I was sorely in need of deep refreshment and strong encouragement to continue treatments.

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