Body and Soul

How donations allow Roswell Park's interfaith chaplain program to provide spiritual "medicine" to cancer patients.

The day Ray Hawker arrived at Roswell Park to begin treatment for leukemia, his wife, Geri, went to the hospital chapel to pray. There she met Rev. Richard Kaylor, former Protestant Chaplain in the Pastoral Care Department. "We had a long conversation about cancer and the diagnosis and where it leads," recalls Geri. "Just his presence made me feel so good.

"Everything we spoke about with him was about hope in a spiritual sense. My husband looked forward to seeing him. He realized he needed something to hang onto, somewhere to draw strength from."

Pastoral Care at Roswell Park employs five chaplains of differing faiths, and support is also provided upon request from 10 additional faith leaders, ensuring patients and their families have access to the most appropriate and personalized spiritual counsel. Donations to Roswell Park enable the Pastoral Care department to continue providing this important emotional guidance.

Rev. Kaylor remained close to Ray and Geri Hawker as Ray received chemotherapy, as he underwent a stem cell transplant, and after the transplant failed. Toward the end, Rev. Kaylor and Ray spoke together about death, and together they helped Geri face the painful separation to come.

At Geri's request, Rev. Kaylor gave the eulogy at Ray's funeral. "He became family," says Geri. "I will be eternally grateful to him… He was there for him every single day. He was with him to the day he died."