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Writing about cancer on the bathroom wall

BY KATHY LATOUR | FEBRUARY 16, 2012

We get many journals here at the CURE office as you can imagine. I picked up one this morning from the Oncology Nursing Society and found an interesting commentary on men's communication style in one article.

It seems that in designing the North Carolina Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill, which opened in 2009, someone thought it might be a good idea to put a white board in the outpatient restrooms. I don't know if this was an effort to keep the halls looking neat and clean or to give directions on how to pee in a cup, but I'm guessing that no one expected that men would begin leaving inspirational messages for each other -- which is exactly what happened.

Since I can't get a picture of the white board, here are a few of the notes the guys left each other. Many are Christian, scriptures to remind each other that God is in charge and will be there for them. Others are prayer requests and others are prayers given. I have to admit that I was chuckling at the guy who just couldn't stand it and had to number them so someone would know where to start -- had to be an engineer. Then I stopped and tears filled my eyes at the idea of the father who wrote, "pray for my son." Someone added "Cancer Sucks" and one writer wrote "widespread panic" and circled it, not explaining if it was how he felt or how the board made him feel.

By this point in the story, I was attached to the board and the men who had found the place where they could express those powerful emotions. It was amazing to read how the nurses took charge, becoming so attached to what had become a sacred place that they asked for a larger board. When it came, they moved the smaller board, messages and all, to a another wall and put up the big board. The writer reports that it didn't take long for the first message to appear in the upper left corner, "Please pray for Shawn and her family."

If you are from Chapel Hill, take a picture of the boards and post them on our facebook page.

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COMMENTS

This is an awesome idea. I think I'll print it off and take to my cancer center.
- Posted by gina lee 3/1/12 6:55 AM

I agree with gina lee above...a wonderful idea. It is important to obtain support in many different and special ways. My husband is going through treatment for CLL, and I will share this idea with his doctor and cancer center. Thanks for the inspiration!
- Posted by Muriel Adkins 3/5/12 10:03 PM

I work with John Collier at UNC Hospitals. The story also made it into my husband's Sunday Sermon.
- Posted by Wendy McBride, RN, BSN, OCN 3/26/12 2:25 PM

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