TYLER, Texas (KLTV/KTRE) - As patients battling cancer embark on journey of treatment, Rick Garrett wants to help them find spiritual healing at the same time.
Diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2013, Garrett underwent radiation and six rounds of chemotherapy.
The retiree from Tyler has made it his mission to lead others through darkness. A few days a week, he prays with patients at Texas Oncology's Tyler clinic.
He's made a lot of friends here, including infusion nurse Laurie Martin, who treated him.
"Cancer is a very scary diagnosis," Martin said. "And then coming in for Chemo treatments. That's really scary too."
Over the last 18 years, Martin has seen a lot of patients, though few are like Garrett.
"Well he always had an excellent attitude and that makes a real difference in your recovery."
Now three years in remission, Garrett lives to give thanks.
"You know how the Lord speaks to your heart. It's not an audible voice, but it's so clear, you know. He said go back to the place of your healing and pray for those that are still sick."
In that moment, he says he was told he'd encounter someone from his past. Days later, he came across a friend, unaware that she was battling cancer. She was the first person he prayed with.
"I try to take care of everybody that I see that I know is struggling with this dreadful disease."
For the last year, he's spent a few days each week interacting with patients.
“I tell them that I’m a cancer survivor, that I’ve sat in the chair that they’re sitting in and had chemo.”
After introducing himself, he asks if he can offer some encouragement and a prayer.
“When troubles come and we begin to praise God, he begins to take our mind off our troubles. It’s how we release and how we surrender our troubles to God.”
The message touches people of all ages and all walks of life. Connecting on a deeper level is a daily reminder of how cancer changed his outlook on the world.
"Prayer is the most powerful thing that we can do for each other in this life. It really is. It transcends money, transcends disease. It transcends all those things."
Martin says prays for her patients each day before coming to work.
"It's part of the healing process. We don't just want to just help meet people's physical needs, but also spiritual needs as well."
The medical staff aren't just carrying out a job. Many see this vocation as a calling to serve.
"The nurses here always wear a smile," Garrett said. "And they have no idea how much that means to somebody that's fighting for their life."
Garrett's ministry reaches beyond the waiting room. He regularly offers thanks on behalf of the caregivers at Texas Oncology.
"We feel very grateful knowing that we're being brought to the Lord, too, up in prayer, every day," Martin said.
Inspired by the power of prayer, Garrett says he's always giving glory to God, whether or not he's walking the clinic's hallways.
"They're still being lifted up in prayer every single day. I'm as regular as taxes. You can count on it."
February is National Cancer Prevention month. With more than 124 thousand Texans expected to receive a Cancer diagnosis this year, prevention is key. You can talk to your doctor about which screening and prevention steps are right for you.
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