Thrive by IU Health

May 20, 2022

Turning the tassel on cancer

IU Health Arnett Hospital

Turning the tassel on cancer

On the morning of graduation day in December 2020, John Laws, EdD, vice chancellor of student affairs at Ivy Tech Community College Lafayette, got into his car dressed in academic regalia — but instead of driving to the ceremony, he passed campus and headed to IU Health Arnett Hospital.

While proudly wearing his mortarboard, Dr. Laws led his own procession as he entered IU Health Arnett Cancer Center for his last radiation treatment after a five-month battle against prostate cancer.

John Laws, EdD, vice chancellor of student affairs at Ivy Tech Community College Lafayette

As his care team handed him his certificate of completion, Dr. Laws immediately began to think about what he could do to show his appreciation for the compassionate care he received during his cancer journey.

“Everyone at Arnett made this situation as painless as possible,” Dr. Laws said. “From my oncologist, Dr. Matthew Orton, to the clinicians administering my treatment — everyone was so kind and helpful. I knew I had to give back in some way.”

He also knew that he wanted his generosity to support both caregivers and patients.

That’s why nearly one year after his “graduation,” Dr. Laws and his wife, Konnie Laws, provided IU Health Arnett with a new blanket warmer they purchased for the cancer center.

There was a special reason behind this gift choice.

“I am always cold, so warmth is close to my heart,” said Dr. Laws. “When I received treatment, I often had to disrobe and would be left feeling chilly after the therapy session.”

Konnie and John Laws

That “coldness” is something patients undergoing radiation therapy can experience as a side effect of treatment. Dr. Laws explained that because radiation can lower the body’s white blood cell count, the result for some patients is reduced oxygen circulation, which can lead to feeling cold.

Thanks to the new machine, caregivers at the cancer center will be able to warm nearly a dozen blankets at one time for patients who need that extra level of comfort.

“We hope this donation helps makes the job of caregivers a little easier, but we also hope it helps patients who may be shivering after treatment,” Konnie said. “We thought this was a win-win.”

But for Dr. Laws, making this gift also felt like he passed a “final exam.” Not only had he finished his treatment, but now he had also helped other patients find comfort during unsettling times. That moment of generosity made him feel like he could officially turn his tassel.

Join the Laws in making a gift in support of oncology care at IU Health Arnett Cancer Center.