In a Children's Cancer Ward

How Mary and Martha coped with life's toughest blow.

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." -Luke 10:38-40, NIV

__I do not think I understood the Bible at all until I paid attention to the families I care for. In the pediatric cancer ward where I work, I see startling reflections of biblical themes. Scripture comes alive in the families I meet, showing me how the Bible lives and speaks to the complexities of our day. Two mothers in particular remind me very much of two friends of Jesus-the sisters of Luke 10, Mary and Martha.__

I never worried about my day starting on time if Teddy Campbell's name was on my clinic list. Martha and her son Teddy were usually in the waiting area long before the receptionist arrived. She wanted to be the first in line when the lab opened. By the time I entered the examining room, Martha was ready, greeting me with Teddy's completed blood report.

When Mary Bonito would finally reach the clinic with daughter Sarah, however, the nurses would be glancing impatiently at the clock. There was no way they could start the baby's chemotherapy and still get to lunch themselves. Mary would ask for the latest possible appointment but did not even make that on time. Nurses begged me to talk to Mary about punctuality, while the doctors coming in for the next specialty clinic grouched, "Why do your clinics always seem to run so late?"

Nine-year-old Teddy and nine-month-old Sarah came to us on the same day with the same disease. Their mothers, however, were quite different. Martha kept in regular touch with parents at other treatment ...

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