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Last Monday I had the “R” of my chemotherapy regime. “ Rituximab” is the formal name for the medication, and I was blessed to have almost no side effects. I am feeling a little fatigued but my appetite is still good and I can only attribute that to all of your prayers! Each card, note and email lifts my spirits and reminds me that I am part of something more than myself. God has greatly blessed me!
Next Monday they will combine all of the chemotherapies into one treatment. Hopefully I will be able to maintain that schedule moving forward, as I will have one treatment every three weeks. The treatments are “cumulative” meaning each takes a bigger toll on my body. My immune system will continue to weaken at this time, yet I hope to continue at least my daily and Sunday mass schedules. Thanks to all those Eucharistic Ministers who have stepped up to help during this time! As much as I miss sharing the Eucharistic bread with you, I know it is the best way to stay healthy.
Many of you have sent me notes sharing your own battles with cancer. It is amazing how many lives this disease has touched. I feel like I have always been compassionate to those who are suffering, yet my own diagnosis gives me a whole different perspective. I am hoping God will use this to help me to be a better priest.
Thanks again for your prayers and concern.
Pray for me as I will for you…..
Well, I made it through week one. The doctors decided to divide my first round of chemotherapy into two sessions. For the medical experts out there, on Tuesday I had the “CHOP” portion and today I will have the “R” portion. This one may prove to be more difficult, so I ask for your prayers in a special way throughout the day. Moving forward, I will have 5 more “R-CHOP” therapies combined in one session every three weeks.
Thanks to all of your prayers, I have had very minimal side effects. Although my appetite is good, I need to add some more calories. I am working with a dietician to do this, so please no cakes or cookies to the rectory! Strange, I have spent all of my middle age counting calories and exercising and now they want me to gain weight! As of today, the hair loss has not started but I know it is coming….
I am continually amazed at the hospital workers who patiently care for people each day suffering from this disease. As I took my chemotherapy infusion, I watched as each patient was treated with dignity and respect in the midst of some truly horrible physical situations. Thanks to those in our community who live the vocation of service in the health care setting. You are truly the body of Christ in the world.
Finally, someone attached this quote to an email they sent me and I think it is worth passing along….
“When we say to people, 'I will pray for you,' we make a very important commitment. The sad thing is that this remark often remains nothing but a well-meant expression of concern. But when we learn to descend with our mind into our heart, then all those who have become part of our lives are led into the healing presence of God and touched by him in the center of our being. We are speaking here about a mystery for which words are inadequate. It is the mystery that the heart, which is the center of our being, is transformed by God into his own heart, a heart large enough to embrace the entire universe. Through prayer we can carry in our heart all human pain and sorrow, all conflicts and agonies, all torture and war, all hunger, loneliness, and misery, not because of some great psychological or emotional capacity, but because God's heart has become one with ours.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers
Although in the coming months I may not be as available as I was, I will pray for you…..please pray for me.
Words cannot express my gratitude for the outpouring of prayers and support you have offered me in this last week. The cards, emails, and phone calls have overwhelmed me and have given me great strength as I begin my treatment.
My first chemotherapy session will be today, August 6, and will be performed at an outpatient clinic. The treatments will continue once every three weeks for six months. As the therapy continues, my immune system will move to an extremely compromised state, and that is the hardest part of this treatment.
One of my greatest joys as a priest is to get dressed for mass early and walk around the church to greet all of you. I hear about the joys of your families and the things you’d like me to pray for. Your handshakes and embraces remind me that I am part of a family, and they give me great strength to celebrate the Eucharist with you. Unfortunately, this practice needs to be put on hold for a while. It would also not be wise of me to distribute communion, and so on the weekends I am up for having mass, I will have to keep my distance from you and Eucharistic Ministers will take over. I know you understand, yet I just wanted to give you fair warning.
I am going to try to keep going with daily mass schedule and take it one day at a time. Parishioners and staff members will lead communion services on those mornings when I am not feeling well. I am so grateful to the many people who have stepped forward with ideas to help me.
This is going to be a long road and I would be lying if I said I was not nervous about it. The doctors have given me an excellent prognosis for a cure yet it’s going to be a rough time getting there. So many of you have inspired me over the years on walking this same journey of battling cancer, and that will give me the courage to keep moving forward.
I will try to give you weekly updates on the website so as not to overwhelm the office with phone calls. Thanks for your understanding and for all your prayers.