Loretta Salchert
Loretta Salchert
Loretta Salchert (pronounced sel-kirt) serves as the Executive Director of Ribbon of Hope Cancer Support Ministry. Ribbon of Hope is a not-for-profit 501 (c)3, faith-based ministry that seeks to provide emotional and spiritual support for cancer patients and their family members. Since its beginning in 1999, Ribbon of Hope has walked with more than 1,800 patients, as well as caregivers and family members. A majority of Ribbon's patients are scattered throughout Elkhart County and also surrounding communities. Each year Ribbon of Hope logs more than 8,200 patient service hours, all of which are provided free of charge.

Loretta received her Advanced Crisis Response credential through the American Association of Christian Counselors and the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation and is a Board of Certified Crisis Response Specialist. She is also a certified Grief and Loss Coach.

Loretta and her family reside in Goshen.

Helping cancer patients has taught Ribbon of Hope's Loretta Salchert how to live life with a sense of expectancy

Helping people cope with cancer has taught Loretta Salchert, executive director of Ribbon of Hope, how to live life with a sense of expectancy; how to find joy in the midst of pain; how to emotionally breathe, one breath and one situation at a time.

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 11:03 a.m.

Living life with a sense of expectancy. Yep, that's me! Some days I expect great things to happen and then there are other days when I'm just not “feeling the love.”

I work in a world filled with bad news:

"You have cancer."

"We have exhausted all forms of treatment and now you need to go home and make final preparations."

"I can't handle your cancer anymore. I want a divorce."

My heart has been broken many times by the reality of cancer's impact on humanity. Someone once said, "I could never do the kind of work that you do Loretta, because," they proclaimed, "I'm too tenderhearted." Their statement caught me off guard. At first I was offended by their comment. How could they possibly believe that my heart doesn’t break with each new diagnosis and each new disappointment? Now I consider it a badge of honor. You see, I do have a tender heart. I can't count the number of tears I've cried over the last eight years while serving as the executive director of Ribbon of Hope. I know that I have been able to face each and every diagnosis and disappointment with a keen awareness of where my inner strength comes from.

I would do a disservice to those I've journeyed with if I focused only on the bad news. I have watched broken relationships restored, marriages strengthened in the fire, remission come, and people pass into eternity at peace with man and at peace with God. I have watched cancer survivors chart a new normal as they end treatment and begin life cancer free. Oh, the joy that comes in helping patients "finish well" in whatever form it takes.

So, let me tell you what living life with a sense of expectancy looks like for me. It's finding joy in the midst of pain and disappointment. It's investing in things that will leave a legacy of hope for future generations. It's starting that bucket list and actually allowing myself to check off items along life's journey. It's sitting with my adult children as they share their hopes and dreams for the future. It's enjoying the sweet giggles of my grandson when I tickle his belly. It's watching my son achieve one more personal best. It's about holding the hand of a homeless man as he slips into eternity. It's meeting my daughter for dinner and talking about life on a college campus. It's taking time to sit with a patient who needs to figure out how to be present for a daughter's wedding that she will not live to attend. It's about taking the time to read my daughter's blog where she shares openly about how cancer has impacted her own precious little family.

I have discovered that living life with a sense of expectancy has taught me how to emotionally breathe. You know, inhale and exhale one breath and one situation at a time. Taking the good times along with the hurts and disappointments and handing them over to someone who has promised to carry the weight for me. I love what I get to do at Ribbon of Hope, but I can't cure cancer. I love laughing with my children, but I know there will come a day when they will no longer be available to just drop everything and meet me for a coke. I don't want to waste one moment worrying about things I can't fix or investing in things that hold me captive to their care. I want to live life to the fullest. I want to love deeper and leave a mark that points people to a purpose and power far greater than anything this life can offer. Life is an adventure!

So, in the blogs to come, expect me to share stories about patients and volunteers, donors and staff members. I look forward to sharing part of my world with you because, quite honestly, I feel I have an amazing view from where I sit. Walking alongside cancer patients has forced me to face my own mortality. It has challenged me to put my own counsel into practice and chart a course that will allow me to finish well.

So, are you ready to laugh and to cry? Are you ready to allow your heart to go to that place that challenges you in your own life's journey? If so, let's get this adventure started!

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