How can Divine Mercy help those with cancer face t... Read more
Photo: Felix Carroll
There's Hope for the Journey That's Cancer
EDITOR'S NOTE: Marian Press has just released Divine Mercy, Triumph Over Cancer: A Guide for Patients, Survivors, and Their Caregivers by Ronald M. Sobecks, MD, a hematologist/oncologist who has practiced at the Cleveland Clinic for 12 years. For nearly 20 years, Dr. Sobecks has sought to live The Divine Mercy message as the definitive source of hope for all in need of healing. The following is an excerpt from the book:
Tim was a patient who I will never forget after witnessing how the healing power of prayer touched his life. Our first encounter occurred when I was responsible for covering the inpatient oncology ward at the hospital where I was working. I received a call from a physician who first evaluated Tim at another hospital, and he wished to transfer him to our institution for urgent medical care. Tim had presented with markedly abnormal blood counts, including a white blood cell count that was more than 25 times above the normal range. He also had fatigue and a diffuse rash that caused him considerable discomfort from itching.
After Tim arrived at our hospital, my inpatient team quickly ordered many tests to establish a diagnosis. This included various blood tests, CT scans, and biopsies. While awaiting the results, he was placed on a medicine to lower his elevated white blood cell count that may have otherwise been life threatening. Tim was then found to have a rare type of lymphoma, highly aggressive, and usually fatal.
During these first few days of his hospitalization, he seemed overwhelmed at times from all the medical testing he underwent and the information he was given. Nonetheless, Tim was a man of prayer with a calm demeanor. His wife was usually at his bedside offering him support as well. People prayed for Tim during this time of trial. He then received chemotherapy, and his blood counts transiently improved.
This allowed him to go home and continue his treatments as an outpatient. However, within a few months, Tim's disease rapidly worsened, and he clinically deteriorated. During this time, he lost at least 40 pounds, and he was extremely weak. Further treatment was ineffective, and since Tim was dying, he wished to go home with hospice care. Arrangements were made for him to leave the hospital. I did not expect to see him again.
All the while, people continued to pray for Tim. In particular, I prayed the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy for him. Typically, when patients are sent home with hospice, their physicians are notified by the nurses what needs they have and how they are doing. In Tim's case, I expected a call shortly after he left the hospital to let me know that he had died at home, in peace. However, as each day passed and then as weeks went by, this call never came. I was perplexed.
When I inquired how Tim was doing, his hospice nurse informed me that he was still alive and not in need of more care. After a few months, I received a message from the hospice team that Tim seemed fine, and they were discharging him from hospice care. I was dumbfounded at this news and asked to have an appointment with him in my outpatient clinic.
On the day Tim came to see me, I knocked on the exam room door where he had been waiting. I honestly had no idea what to expect. When I opened the door, I was amazed to see Tim, for his appearance had markedly changed. This man who formerly left the hospital weak and frail, unable to walk, and near death had been radically transformed. He beamed with life as he smiled at me and grasped my hand firmly. Tim had gained 40 pounds back and had all of his former strength that he possessed prior to his cancer diagnosis and perhaps even more. I was delighted to see his joyful countenance. However, I was uncertain what to tell him next.
As I sat next to him and his wife, I looked up his blood test results on a computer in the exam room. I wondered whether they would be better than they were before when I last saw him. I prayed that they would be. As I looked on the computer screen, I was elated to find that Tim's blood counts were normal.
Although I was filled with wonder and excitement, I could not honestly tell him that things were fine until he had follow-up CT scans performed. I let Tim know that I had prayed for him, and I felt many others had done so as well. He then went for his CT scans. To my great delight, there was no evidence of his lymphoma, despite him not having received any further medical treatment for many months. I had the pleasure of letting Tim and his wife know the good news, and they rejoiced with me.
He returned months later, and his blood tests and CT scans once again were still normal. His healing seemed miraculous. In my opinion, there was no medical explanation for what had transpired in Tim's life.
Tim continued to thrive, and I know that he was profoundly grateful for the gift of a second chance at life. His physical healing is a wonderful example of the power of intercessory prayer and the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Nevertheless, more importantly, is the spiritual healing that this powerful prayer imparts. For instance, Jesus cured a paralytic of his physical illness as an outward manifestation of the much more important healing, which was the forgiveness of his sins (see Mark 2:1-12).