From the Boardroom to the Bedside – Episode 189
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Featuring: Robert Bethke
Published: November 9, 2019
Spirituality is an important part of patient care, according to Robert Bethke, chaplain at CTCA. He talked with Rev. Percy McCray about the significance of spiritual care and what that looks like with patients receiving cancer treatment.
Robert Bethke personally experienced the impact of cancer as he supported his daughter through two rounds of breast cancer. After years serving as a workplace chaplain, he transitioned to CTCA, where he now encourages patients and families in their spiritual lives. He shared with Rev. Percy McCray his perspective of the importance of spirituality as part of patient care and caregiver care.
“The perspective of life changes so dramatically…the things they ignored are now the things that matter most.” One of the things that matter most for some patients and caregivers when walking through crisis, is their relationship with God. “All of a sudden God becomes real to them because they’re going through an experience where they need God in a more drastic way.”
Pastor Bethke approaches patients and caregivers first with open questions and a listening ear, asking questions like “How are you doing?” “What’s going on with you?” “How’s your faith walk?” And if people are wanting to talk, he walks with them more deeply in their journey. He also addresses caregivers separately than patients. “They do have issues. They are taking care of someone else, but how do we do self-care as a care-giver?”
Spending time with the Lord every day provides Pastor Bethke the hope he needs to minister well. “I say, ‘God, walk in these shoes. Walk in this body. Walk in this mind and soul because I don’t know what I’m gonna say today to anybody that comes up to me except, ‘Hi, how you doing?'”
- “What I find is very satisfying for our patients spiritually, is that they realize all of a sudden they have a ministry to other cancer patients that they never thought of before.”
- “And so that’s my hope…that God is going to use me to say something… and be a blessing.”
- “A healthy spirituality just goes along with enabling their medical treatment to go well.”