|Modern Radiation Treatment Equipment|
In June of 2006 I was visiting a friend in Atlanta and received a call from the office of my urologist informing me that I had prostate cancer. Because I had been going for regular checkups and screening my cancer was a very early stage one and was very treatable. Nonetheless when one hears the word cancer with one's own name attached it gets one's attention.
I had to call St. Peter's in Eagle River, WI and let them know that I wouldn't be able to come there that summer because I had to visit doctors and decide on a treatment option. I was told that in my case the decision was up to me regarding surgery or radiation as well as some other approaches. With that I began a spiritual, emotional and physical journey that continues to this day. Even though I had confidence that the cancer could be treated I still had to face the fact that this was something that could kill me if I did not take action. It was an encounter with my own mortality.
I returned from Atlanta to my friary in St. Petersburg and found my mailbox already filling up with cards and letters with prayers and support from the parishioners in Wisconsin. I was deeply moved by that. I had every intention of getting something done quickly but found that the whole process would take several months. After visiting with several doctors I chose a course of radiation therapy. A combination of radiation beam therapy and radioactive seed implants was recommended and I accepted that.
The good Lord knew that I needed to slow down. Although I never felt ill or in pain I was not able during that time to do my work of traveling around to different parishes. I had to show up at the hospital every weekday for five weeks as well as attending to other medical appointments to prepare me for everything. It was a time of letting God be in control and giving myself over to the care of wonderful doctors for whom I will always be grateful. I still see them for annual followup and am glad to report that after nearly 6 years everything is fine.
I truly believe that I was healed. No, there were no miracles in the sense of supernatural intervention but the had of God was with the doctors and nurses who provided not only high quality medical treatment but truly compassionate care, with my Franciscan community and so many people who offered me prayers. Healing for me consists in knowing that God is with you no matter what.
My perspective on life has subtly changed. I appreciate every moment that God gives me. I pinch myself when I take a long bike ride and feel so grateful that since then I have started this blog, preached several missions and retreats, am having a book published (release in early 2013), went on a mission trip to Honduras and had the joy last week of presiding at the marriage of my niece Michelle to Kevin Donahue. I mention those things not to boast but because I am grateful that I am alive and have had a chance to do these things.
This Friday and Saturday, August 3&4 I will be participating with the team from St. Peter the Fisherman parish in the Northwoods Realy for Life. These relays go on all over the country during the year and raise money for cancer research, new treatments and above all the hope for a complete cure. I will participate as a grateful survivor. If any of you are so inclined you can click on the link below, when you get on line you will see a donation box on the right side of the page.
And one last thing please get your regular gender and age recommended cancer screenings--prostate,colonoscopy, mamogram. etc. They're not always fun, but they save lives.
Just click on: Northwoods Relay for Life