This is an edited letter Provision founder and Chairman Terry Douglass sent to all Provision employees.
A friend recently gave me a book for my birthday titled The Book of Joy, written based on conversations between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. The promotional description of the book states:
“Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—they are two of the most joyful people on the planet. In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness’s eightieth birthday and to create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question:”
“How do we find joy in the fact of life’s inevitable suffering?”
As I started to read this book, I searched to see if I could find a quick summary answer for how to find joy which might be hidden in the pages of the book. I found their answer to joy on page 59 in the section titled “Our Greatest Joy”. Their answer is that “our greatest joy is when we seek to do good for others”. A close physician friend also said to me once on a mission trip to Haiti that: “our greatest joy and most intimate relationships come from voluntarily entering into another person’s pain and suffering”. The Christian Bible says it this way: “Serve one another in love” and “The greatest among you will be your servant”.
Serving others and entering into another person’s pain and suffering doesn’t seem like the way to joy and relationship. The world says the way to great joy and relationships is pleasure and money and power and position and winning and you name it; but it’s for sure not serving others and suffering with others. Does the world have it all wrong? Yes, the world has it wrong; and the truth of joyful living has been demonstrated at our Provision Center for Proton Therapy in that great joy and intimate relationships can come from doing good, serving others, and voluntarily entering into another person’s pain and suffering
Obviously, most of our patients are in the most difficult season of their life. They are facing cancer which creates an uncertain future for themselves, their families, and friends. They are also facing probable pain and suffering now and in the future. They are looking for answers to their cancer problem. They probably don’t even know that they need something more than treatment for their cancer: someone who CARES and who wants to serve and enter into their pain. So that’s where we all come in. We want to help them develop answers to their cancer questions; but more importantly, we want to show them CARE by serving and loving them and voluntarily entering into their pain and suffering. We may ease their pain, and we may actually cure their cancer; but they, like us all, will still die physically; but the CARE we show them will live forever.
I know that this CARE is the most important thing in what we can do for our patients because of the many letters and cards and conversations that I receive from our patients. For example, here is an excerpt from a letter from a patient from Kentucky:
“The Culture of Care is amazing and all encompassing. I have never been in a medical environment that has such professionalism, passion, commitment and genuine empathy for the patients. From the doctors and their staff, to the administrative personnel, to the therapists and technicians, and honestly everyone who is part of the Proton Center, I know God is blessing them in the work they do. The Provision Center is dedicated to Christ. As a patient, I can tell you first-hand; you can see it, you can hear it, you can most surely feel it. There is a Presence.”
Here’s another of the many cards that I have received from patients:
Every one of us has a role in serving our patients from the physicists, engineers, and technicians who use their creativity, knowhow and experience to provide the best possible treatment systems and protocols, to our physicians and therapist and clinical staff who meet the patients personally every day, to our administrative and support staff who keeps our center functioning, to our marketing and business development personnel who get the patients here, to our care coordinators and hospitality staff who find ways to exceed the needs and expectations of our patients, and to everyone who has a smile and a kind word for a patient that you have never seen before. The joy of serving our patients and doing good for others should be a joy for every one of our 250 employees. I hope that we can all find joy in the CARE we provide.
During this Thanksgiving season, we should all feel thankful and blessed to be a part of a great team who does good, voluntarily enters into others pain and suffering, and serves others joyfully. We, in turn, receive the greatest joy in return. I know that I am thankful and blessed beyond words!