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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Inspiration in the most unlikely places..

You may ask yourself, why I am visiting places along my journey that most people try to avoid.  The answer would be a simple one, love and inspiration.  I have learned that some of the most inspiring people are those you meet in some of the most typically uninspiring places.  With my family history of cancer it is only fitting that these destinations be on my agenda.  And I must say, using the Brompton is making that process a whole lot easier. 

I received a very warm welcome to MD Anderson, Orlando from the moment I contacted them right through to the end of a wonderful tour.  I was guided through the history of this premier health care facility and shown many unique features and programs by the centers Manager of Customer Relations.  She has had an impressive 23 years with this organization and her dedication and pride show, not only in her smile, but in the wealth of information she imparts.

 I arrived at about 10:15am and was greeted by two smiling happy women working the reception area.  As I waited for my tour guide to arrive I watched and listened.  This wasn't about what I saw as much as what I didn't see.  Yes there were people who were very sick coming and going from their appointments and treatments.  What was not present was sadness or an air of negativity.  I would find later in my tour that it didn't seem to exist anywhere in the building.

I won't linger on the history of MD Anderson, for that you can visit their website
I will instead touch on things that I think go above and beyond in making this a stand out facility.  The first thing you notice when looking at anything concerning MD Anderson is that the word Cancer in the name has a strike through it and underneath the name the words, "Making Cancer History".  This is one very powerful message.

This beautiful lady sits in the lobby/reception area, her name is Sophie and I was told she is the "Cower of Hope" and her name holds a special meaning.  Rearrange the letters, have you figured it out?  Hope Is!  She is adorable and fun, loved her rain boots and beads.  She helps to set the tone and lightened the mood of what could otherwise be a very somber environment.

I noticed a gentleman coming in with a wheeled cart filled to the brim with fresh citrus.  He was immediately greeted at the reception area with a smile and a hug.  He explained that this fruit was just a small token of his appreciation for the care his wife had been receiving.  He went on to explain what all the things in the basket were and then talked a bit more about his story.  I politely spoke up and said I couldn't help but overhear the conversation and that I was grateful to hear such an inspiring story.  He explained that he couldn't express how grateful he was and that if it weren't for the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson, he didn't believe his wife would still be with him.  This was just the beginning of the gratitude I sensed from so many people on this tour.  If you are reading this sir, thank you for the grapefruit!

 Up we go to a testing floor.  The first thing you hear and see when you come off the elevator is Craig.  He is playing a soft, soothing tune on his guitar, it was almost Zen like.  I was told that he is part of the Arts Program and moves around to different areas to play as a way of additionally soothing the patients.  It was amazing, thanks to Craig for taking his picture with me. 
It turns out that music is only a small part of MD Anderson's Arts Program and I would see some of that later in the morning. 

The little touches that make a big difference didn't end with the Arts Program.  Even the art on the walls was carefully chosen.  Next floor of the tour, I met a wonderful woman who had just come back from running with the Team Livestrong in Austin.  It was clear that she loved what she was doing.  Livestrong is a resounding message throughout this center.

One thing that stood out as I made my way around this facility was that they are treating the patient, not just the disease.  I was taken to an area where integrative medicine or mind/body medicine is offered.  The most fun for me with my massage therapy and Reiki background.  Once again it was the little touches that stood out.  Yes they offer presentations on healthy living, and nutrition, but who would have thought about a drum circle, tai chi, and a Labyrinth.  Better yet, how about afternoon tea.

Or how about the small class we passed along the way learning how to make healthy dessert choices.  I was introduced to the leaders in that class and I could immediately see they were very passionate about what they were doing.  They certainly had everyone's attention.

Just outside of this area where they held afternoon tea was a special bell hanging on the wall.  This bell is for anyone who has finished their treatment.  They are told to ring it in celebration of life and the end of treatment.  How cool is that.

There are many more great things I could say about the couple of hours I spent at MD Anderson however I would just like to end this post with a thank you to all the wonderful people at MD Anderson.  You are doing a spectacular job.  I think this last picture sums up in one word what the atmosphere at MD Anderson speaks volumes to.  So you see, many inspiring moments can come from the most unlikely places.  Share your inspiring moments in an unlikely place in the comments below.