Tag Archives: Spain

Cancer diagnosis inspires walk on the Camino

For some people, a cancer diagnosis feels like the end. For Leslie, it was a chance to make a difference while funding research to help others.

Leslie Yerger had gone for a routine annual checkup. Now, just 55 years old and feeling completely normal, she was told something looked abnormal in her baseline bone density scan. That led to more tests, more specialists, and a bone biopsy. She learned she had breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones. Stage IV.

Healthnetwork connected her to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion, and her diagnosis was confirmed.

Leslie returned to Mayo Clinic for a customized plan and worked with Dr. Deborah Rhodes, who said something Leslie will never forget: “You are the woman I’ve dedicated the last ten years of my career to.”

One of the most confusing things for Leslie was that her diagnosis came soon after an “all clear” mammogram and ultrasound. Leslie then had thought that at least she “knew” she didn’t have breast cancer.

Unfortunately, Mayo Clinic physicians found a breast tumor the size of an egg.

For women with dense breast tissue, there’s less than a 50 percent chance that a mammogram will find a tumor. That’s because tumors and dense breast tissue both appear white on a mammogram.

Rhodes helped develop a new method, Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI), which is far more effective at detecting tumors in women with dense breasts than standard mammography alone. The MBI unit is now FDA approved and commercially available, and all Mayo Clinic locations use them as standard supplemental screening for women with dense breasts. However, MBI is not yet widely available.

In 2018, Leslie embarked on the Frances Way, a 500- mile segment of the ancient spiritual passage in Europe called the Camino de Santiago. [Legatus will host its own El Camino Pilgrimage in April 2021.]

She walked, she said, because “I needed to reckon with not knowing the future.” But mostly she walked for the 40,000 women who die from breast cancer annually in the U.S.

Leslie kept a blog while walking the Camino. On October 1, the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she wrote: “My real why [for walking] is about kids without moms, grandkids without grandmas, and widowers without wives. It’s about careers unfinished, potentials not met, and dreams not realized.”

Through private donations and a matching grant, Leslie raised more than $105,000 to support Density MATTERS, Mayo Clinic’s multisite trial headed by Rhodes and her team.

“Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) needs to be available to more women with dense breast tissue, so that more cancers can be found earlier, when they are at the curable stage,” she says. “This was something I could do that would help other women, if only in a small way.”

KATE MARTIN is director of marketing for Healthnetwork. She has worked within the company since 2003, formerly as writer and medical coordinator.

Paschal Baylon (1540-1592)

The Spanish ST. PASCHAL BAYLON draws his unusual name from the feast of Pentecost . . .

Paschal Baylon

Paschal Baylon

Feast Day: May 17
Canonized: October 16, 1690

Paschal Baylon was born to a poor peasant family on Pentecost, known as “the Pasch of the Holy Ghost” in Spain, which is how he obtained his first name. He spent his early years as a shepherd. As he worked in the fields, he prayed and read religious books.

In 1564, he joined the Reformed Franciscan Order and became a friar. He served as porter, cook, gardener, and official beggar for the order, closely observing the vow of poverty, and spending much time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. A mystic and contemplative, he was often sought for his wise counsel. He developed a reputation for tremendous generosity among the poor.

“Seek God above all things,” Paschal wrote. “It is right for you to seek God before and above everything else, because the majesty of God wishes you to receive what you ask for. This will also make you more ready to serve God and will enable you to love him more perfectly.”

His tomb is in the Royal Chapel in Villareal, now a place of pilgrimage. During the Spanish Civil War (1936- 1939), his grave was desecrated and his relics burned. He is the patron of shepherds and Eucharistic congresses and associations.

TIM DRAKE is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.

St. Raymond of Peñafort (1175-1275)

The patron of attorneys, Raymond was one of the most influential clerics of his day . . .

St. Raymond of Penafort

St. Raymond of Penafort

Feast Day: January 7
Patron of attorneys

Born into a wealthy family related to the royal family of Aragon in Spain, Raymond was educated at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Barcelona where he later taught philosophy. He left Spain in 1210 to study law at Bologna where he became a doctor of canon and civil law and a successful lawyer in 1216. He occupied a first chair of canon law in the university for three years.

The Bologna city senate hoped to retain him in the city by presenting him with special rewards for his work. He did not remain, however, because Pope Honorius III asked him to return to Spain to tutor King James I of Aragon.

Raymond was attracted to the Dominican Order by the preaching of Blessed Reginald, Prior of the Dominicans in Bologna. He received the habit in the Dominican convent of Barcelona in 1222. Seven years later, he assisted the Cardinal of Sabina in preaching a crusade against the Moors.

Pope Gregory IX gave Raymond the job of ordering and codifying the canon laws of the Church. Completed in 1234, the work remained the most authoritative compilation within the body of canon law until 1917, when a new code was published.

Raymond was elected general of the Dominican order in 1238, and during his tenure published a revised edition of the Dominican constitution. He assisted in founding the Order of Our Lady of Mercy (Mercedarians) for the redemption of captives.

Because he thought it was important to preach to the Jews in Hebrew and Muslims in Arabic, Raymond taught both languages to Hebrew and Arabic missionaries. He also established missionary schools to foster this practice. He lived to be 100 and was canonized in 1601.

This column is produced for Legatus by the Dead Theologians Society, a Catholic apostolate for high school age teens and college age young adults. On the web: deadtheologianssociety.com

St. John of God (1495-1550)

St. John of God was among the first in history to open a Catholic book store . . .

St. John of God

St. John of God

Feast Day: March 8
Patron of firefighters, the dying, publishers

John’s early life reads like a case study in ADHD. When he was eight years old, he ran away from home after learning about the adventures that could be had in the New World. Failing to actually go to the Americas, he became a shepherd. When pressured to settle down and marry his boss’ daughter at age 27, he fled by joining Spain’s war against France. His converting moment came when he was thrown from a horse near enemy lines. There he promised God that he’d change his life.

After joining another war to defend Europe from Muslim invaders, he went to Africa to help ransom Christian slaves taken by Muslims. He moved back to Spain where his love of books led him to become among the first to open up a Catholic bookstore.

At 41, he received a vision and left Spain to pursue his original dream of evangelizing in the New World. He opened a religious book store in Grenada, an island nation of South America. Soon he was putting all his energy into serving the poor. He constantly exchanged his clothes with the tattered clothes of the poor, until his bishop got him to stop by giving him a habit. John eventually started a hospital and would personally carry those too sick to walk there on his shoulders.

His feast day marks an event where he came upon a burning hospital. Shocked to find no one helping, he ran in and rescued every patient single-handedly, miraculously avoiding the flames. John died of pneumonia at 55 after a failed attempt to rescue a man from drowning. He was buried in a royal ceremony, honored and loved by all Grenada residents.

This column is produced for Legatus by the Dead Theologians Society, a Catholic apostolate for high school age teens and college age young adults. On the web: deadtheologianssociety.com