Dear Friends at Saint John's
This past Summer, on July 25, our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry (left), announced by letter that he would be undergoing prostate cancer surgery on July 31. He asked for prayers and suggested that he would be away from his duties for as much as six weeks, meaning he hoped to be back to work in September.
I was paying attention to Bishop Curry's announcement because earlier in July, my PSA spiked and I had a prostate biopsy to see if there was cancer in the gland. One motivation was the fact that my Grandfather died of prostate cancer and family history is a strong predictor. So on the same day that Bishop Curry was undergoing surgery, I was hearing from my doctor that I did, indeed have a strong case of prostate cancer. Subsequent scans and imaging tests indicated that it had not spread beyond the gland.
There are two treatment options for the stage of prostate cancer
that I have, either two months of radiation therapy, or removal of the prostate, called a prostatectomy. After quite a bit of consulting with doctors, with friends who have undergone prostate treatment, and with family, I have elected to have the cancer removed. The procedure will take place at one of our best Philadelphia hospitals on October 2. I am hoping to be back to work the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Fortunately, our pension fund has a generous short-term disability plan for active clergy. This will allow the parish to increase Rev. Jill's work-days at Saint John's, and to hire some guest preachers to serve with her, during the two months that I am on medical leave. The vestry has been working with me since August to be sure that this time goes well, that the church thrives during this important part of the program year and that the time away will be a healing journey for me.
In over thirty-three years of ministry since seminary, I have seen many parishioners be diagnosed with various cancers. I have seen many healed or cured. I have known some who have eventually died. Through it all, I have been seen their shock or bewilderment, their determination, their courage, their tenacity and their faith. I have seen them pulled between the need for intense privacy to concentrate on cure, balanced by the need for support and prayer from family, friends and church community. I have seen the mental and spiritual clarity that cancer brings. So now, its my turn to travel with them.
I'll be with you at Saint John's for two more Sundays, September 23 and 30. During the week, as many of you know, there will be lots of planning and preparation for surgery and for being out of work for 8 weeks for healing and recovery. I trust that during my absence you'll support Rev. Jill and your fellow church leaders with your presence in our worshiping community, your encouragement and your prayers. The church has its mission and ministry to do.
Bishop Curry? Yes, he was back to work in mid-September, saying in a
September 10 statement
that he was "
slowly but surely working my way back into the work I love to do." He thanked everyone for their prayers. And I ask you for your prayers for me.