Tag Archives: cancer

In God’s Hands: Living Through Illness with Faith

Maureen A. Cummings
Our Sunday Visitor, 115 pages

As a cancer survivor, Maureen Cummings knows a thing or two about the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges that accompany a person who must endure serious illness, as well as the difficulty for their loved ones. In this concise paperback, she provides succinct guidance and encouragement for those facing similar circumstances. Acceptance, prayer, trust in God, courage, dealing with inevitable changes, and preparation for the battle as well as for death itself are covered in simple and comforting fashion. Catholics know suffering can be redemptive, and this little book is crafted to help them make the most of it.

Order: Amazon

Averting breast cancer risk supports Catholic credo

Not only is breast cancer the most common female cancer, expected to affect 1 in 8, and increasing alarmingly at 3.5 percent annually, but it afflicts more women under 50 with more aggressive and more difficult-to-treat forms of the cancer. Only 10 percent of breast cancer is hereditary (genetic); therefore environmental causes have great effect and can be modified by habits and decisions. When detected early, breast cancer has an excellent prognosis.

Risk factors, prevention

Environmental risk factors include smoking, obesity, excess alcohol consumption, and possibly toxins ingested by girls during breast development. As lifetime estrogen exposure increases, so does breast cancer risk, and women in modern Western cultures start menses at younger ages than in developing countries. This partially explains the cancer’s higher incidence in wealthier countries.

Artificial hormones increase its risk, particularly oral contraceptives. A recent whole-country prospective study of the 1.8 million women of reproductive age in Denmark demonstrated an average 20 percent increased risk of breast cancer with contraceptive use. This risk was lower (under 10 percent) with one-year use, but increases to just under 40 percent with 10 years of use. An estimated 140 million women worldwide take hormonal contraceptives including 15 percent of women between 15 and 49 years old.

Many are shocked to learn the link between abortion and breast cancer. To date, around 30 of 40 studies have shown that abortion is a significant risk – and potentially causative factor for breast cancer, particularly if it occurs before the first full-term pregnancy. In this circumstance, there is up to 50 percent increased risk of breast cancer and this risk increases with multiple abortions (references available on www.polycarp.org ).

Habits that decrease risk

Healthy eating and exercise provide multiple health benefits and decrease the risk of breast cancer. Eating a healthy diet rich in natural vegetables and fruits as well as getting good nightly sleep are protective.

Alcohol is a known toxin associated with breast cancer. Women should limit alcohol consumption, since more than 1 or 2 daily alcoholic drinks routinely increases the risk of breast cancer.

Artificial hormones use should be avoided or reduced.

Full-term pregnancies and lactation decrease the risk of breast cancer as well as providing benefits to the newborn.

Routine annual mammography is still the primary method of secondary prevention (early detection). For women without a strong family history, annual mammography starting at age 40 is recommended.

Modern culture, science and faith

Today’s culture promotes patient autonomy and providing more information for making health-care decisions. This trend supports giving patients information on abortion and contraception risks. Many aren’t duly informed of these grave dangers. A recent documentary Hush is available and discusses them. In a culture that values patient autonomy and shared decision making, such serious risks should be included in informed consent.

Recent studies are encouraging since they lend scientific support to the Catholic viewpoint. Contrary to the myth, faith and science are not necessarily in conflict since ultimately truth cannot contradict truth.

DAVID J. HILGER M.D. is a diagnostic radiologist practicing in Omaha, Nebraska, with an expertise in women’s imaging and breast cancer detection. He is on the national board of the Catholic Medical Association and is a member of Legatus, having served previously as president of the Omaha Chapter.

Jesus’ mission to reveal the Father

If you polled Christians, asking the reason for Jesus’ incarnation, most would say he came to redeem humanity — to open heaven so we could one day be with him forever in heaven as adopted sons and daughters.

novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

True. But Jesus also came to reveal the Father, who is “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4). The invisible nature of God became visible in and through Jesus’ actions.

The Catechism teaches that “it pleased God … to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature” (#51).

Sadly, with so many young people (and grown adults) with no concept of a loving father, how does the Church communicate the love of God the Father, revealed in the person of Jesus Christ?

The crisis of fatherhood is epic, and the statistics are alarming. The U.S. Census Bureau tells us that nearly half of children (43%) are being raised without a dad at home, and 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The youth suicide rate is five times higher for kids without a dad.

There is no easy answer, but we are all called in our own particular way to mirror God the Father’s love to our own children and be surrogate fathers to people who are lacking that example.

The first time I ever saw my dad cry was at his father’s funeral. I was six years old, and the image of my father tearing up when he said his last goodbye will stay with me forever. He loved his father deeply.

George Novecosky with his six sons in May 2012

George Novecosky with his six sons in May 2012

Now it’s my turn. My father — George Novecosky — has cancer and I’m faced with the prospect of saying goodbye to him. Fortunately, he’s making it easy for us with his refreshing good humor. In a documentary I made on my parents’ spiritual legacy a few years ago, he quipped, “I’m not afraid to die, but I’m in no hurry!”

In his encyclical Rich in Mercy, Pope St. John Paul II taught that “the truth, revealed in Christ, about God the ‘Father of mercies,’ enables us to see him as particularly close to man especially when man is suffering” (#2).

My father’s spiritual legacy will live on in his nine children and 17 grandchildren. He taught us to live well, to love well and to remember that our end is to live forever in the Father’s House.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

EDITOR’S NOTE: George Novecosky was received into the arms of Our Lord on July 30, 2016.

Providing peace of mind

Miami member Cristina Poo found great peace by connecting with Healthnetwork Foundation . . .

Ramon and Cristina Poo

Ramon and Cristina Poo

Cristina Poo was packed and ready to go on a much-anticipated trip to the Holy Land. Right before she was to leave, she received an unexpected phone call from her sister who explained that her cancer had spread.

“She was in the middle of chemotherapy for her esophageal cancer when she received the devastating news that it had metastasized in her liver,” explained Poo, a member of Legatus’ Miami Chapter. “Her physician indicated that her liver was compromised and further treatment would do no good.”

Poo was distraught. Two years earlier her sister was extremely helpful when Poo herself battled cancer, so she desperately wanted to return the favor. But she was in Miami, and her sister was in California. Thinking back to the Legatus Summits she had attended over the years, Poo remembered receiving information from Healthnetwork Foundation.

“I found my contact information for Healthnetwork and called immediately,” she said. “I was upset and crying when I called; I don’t know how the medical coordinator made sense of what I was saying. Somehow she knew exactly what to do. Within 15-20 minutes, I received a call asking if we had access to all of her medical records and if my sister go to the hospital the next day for an appointment.”

Poo’s sister was quickly connected with the liaison at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. There she met with medical oncologist Edward Wolin, MD. He agreed with the initial prognosis about her liver, but he also gave her the peace of mind that she had done everything she could.

“My sister passed within three weeks of that visit,” Poo said. “While at her funeral, I mentioned to a friend how we connected with Dr. Wolin for a second opinion. The friend told me that he was the best cancer doctor in the area and we were lucky to get in to see him. This made me feel so much better. I never would have been able to make this happen on my own. Even across the country, I was able to reach out to Healthnetwork to provide her with a connection that gave her peace in a time of great struggle.

“I truly wanted to help support the foundation that did so much for our family,” she added. “I want others to benefit as we did, so we continue to support the foundation through the Healthnetwork GOLD program.

“People are often quick to point out when something goes wrong, but I believe in sharing when something goes right. I’m speaking out now because my experience with Healthnetwork could not have been better.”

Kate Hannibal is Healthnetwork’s marketing manager.

Healthnetwork is a Legatus membership benefit, a healthcare “concierge service” that provides members and their families access to some of the most respected hospitals in the world. To learn how this can work for you, call (866) 968-2467 or (440) 893-0830. E-mail: help@healthnetworkfoundation.org