There are many ways to measure time.
They can be concrete, like the days or weeks marked on a calendar. It can also be more abstract, like when you hear a song that brings you back to a specific moment.
For Richard Moore, the continual beep and hum of hospital equipment tracked the course of a 45 day course of radiation treatment.
“There hadn’t been any cancer in my family, so I was somewhat surprised I had it,” Moore admits.
Longevity is in Richard Moore’s DNA. He had aunts and an uncle who lived to see past 90. His mother lived until she was 99. Richard is young by comparison—just 63 years-old—with a prostate cancer diagnosis. Richard would have to endure the next nine weeks of treatment if he hoped to reach the ripe of ages his relatives enjoyed.
Moore is a father of two and a self-described “lowly maintenance man”, who shies away from attention. It could be a result of his church upbringing, with faith rooted in deep, yet humble, conviction.
“We’re on this Earth, but it’s not about us. It’s not about me, it’s about what I can do for somebody else.” he say. “I can’t do much, but what I can do is what I try to do.”
Richard decided to keep the news of his diagnosis and upcoming treatment to a small circle of friends and family.
“I went into radiation treatment alone, and I expected to come out alone,” he says.
But Richard was wrong. He wasn’t alone.
Robyn Wampler, a nurse at Piedmont of Newnan, was by his side each day of his treatment. Robyn is dedicated to all her patients, referring to each one as her “sweet little woman” or her “sweet little man.” Richard was no exception.
“He came Monday through Friday, every day for 45 treatments. That’s a long time to come and have to do this, knowing what you’re battling,” Robyn explains.
Each day they spent together, Robyn extracted bits and pieces of information, learning about the man beyond the diagnosis. She found out Richard is a long-time member of the Dent Chapel Male Chorus in Newnan, and that he was still an active member, despite the daily radiation treatments.
“I asked him do they sing and do they get paid and he said, ‘No, no, no. We do it for the love of Christ.’ And I think that’s a beautiful thing,” she says.
The chorus travels across the region, singing gospel songs that carry a historical message of resilience, endurance and hope. It’s the same message Richard uses to push through his diagnosis and treatment.
At the end of the nine weeks of treatment, Richard thought he would be leaving alone. But once Robyn learned of Richard’s ties to the chorus, she made other plans.
“He’s got this beautiful support system. It was a no-brainer,” Robyn says. “I called his brother and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this idea. What do you think about that?'”
She arranged for the Dent Chapel Male Chorus to come to the hospital to surprise Richard on his last day of treatment. It was a simple gesture, a special blessing she could bestow on a special man.
“To have to fight something by yourselves is a very difficult thing,” Robyn says. “When you have people that surround you with love, that makes it a lot easier.”
After nine weeks and 45 radiation treatments, the beeps and hums of the hospital equipment silenced. In it’s place was the steady tempo of gospel music. Richard’s fellow chorus members were there, filling the hospital hallways with a song about miracles.
“It took everything in me to hold back the tears in my eyes because nobody’s ever done anything like that for me,” he says. “I went into radiation alone, and I expected to come out alone. When I saw them there, it touched my heart.”
That day, Richard Moore sang about miracles.
One month after his last radiation treatment, Richard Moore is still singing, just this time, he’s cancer-free.