Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Jesuit, Priest, Physician, "Rock Star"

Given an old piece linked here a couple weeks back, you all knew that Dr Myles Sheehan, the head of Cardinal Francis George's medical team, is also Fr Sheehan, SJ.

The Chicago Tribune picks up the story:
Sheehan's dual roles were on display in the last three weeks when his youngest and most prominent patient, Cardinal Francis George, 69, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. At news conferences, Sheehan served as the soothing voice, weaving pathology and prognosis together with doses of heartfelt spirituality.

On Tuesday, Cardinal George was released from the hospital after surgery to remove his bladder, prostate and part of his ureter. Sheehan, who cared for the cardinal during the 19-day hospitalization, said he felt both happiness and relief.

Sheehan even said--jokingly--that the cardinal was so excited to be leaving, he had printed T-shirts that said, "Free Francis!"

"I'm relieved," Sheehan said. "I don't want to set incredible expectations that everything is going to be perfect because again it's a big surgery. But I'm happy. I hope he gets to feel better and to relax.

"He's moving from someone who was told he had a potentially deadly diagnosis to dealing with being a survivor. So, he's in a transitional period like any human being would be. We know that Christ is the one who always accompanies you on these journeys, so I think he's getting to know the Lord in that way."...

There are only 25 Jesuit priests in the nation who are also physicians, Sheehan said. And although both professions require some solemnity, Sheehan possesses an outrageous sense of humor.

Last week, for example, when an impatient George wondered why it was taking so long to recover, Sheehan answered: "It's the devil." The cardinal burst into laughter.

On another occasion, Sheehan said the cardinal asked if all the pain he was feeling was some Jesuit torture that was specially designed for the archbishop of Chicago.

No, Sheehan replied, the doctors use it on everyone.

Yet, when it comes to healing the spiritual leader of the archdiocese's 2.4 million Catholics, Sheehan became reflective and said he struggles with a doctor's anxious desire to cure the cardinal. At the same time, his faith tells him the matter is all in God's hands.

"I don't want to see him sick and suffering, and part of the thing I do with all my patients is that I want to protect them," he said.
Well done, well done.