Monday, October 29, 2007

A Prayer for Atlanta

The following announcement came this morning from Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta:
On Monday morning, Nov. 5, I will undergo prostate surgery at Emory University Hospital. I was diagnosed with the early stage prostate cancer after a biopsy in September. I have sought additional medical advice, and I have decided to have this surgery as the best response to my condition. This means that I will be out of commission for the next several weeks. I must cancel all of my scheduled appointments at least through November and then begin again with a limited calendar in December. I apologize to all those who have scheduled events that I must now retract. I am sure that you will understand....

I have urged our priests to take care of their health on several different occasions over the years. I renew that admonition now with the witness of my personal experience. We men (I hope that doesn’t sound absolutely chauvinistic) often neglect regular attention to our health—and priests may be near the top of the list in that category. I urge all of my brothers to attend to your health. I urge any man who may be in a high risk category to be screened for prostate cancer or any other illness that can be detected by simple testing (ladies, you know that you also have your own list of medical concerns that need similar proactive attention).

I am very much at peace with this situation since I believe that I have received expert medical advice and that I will have the best of medical care. I have enjoyed wonderful health throughout my life, and I anticipate returning to a fully active schedule after my recuperation.

Some of you might now wonder why I am being so candid about my health. Well, you are my family, and you have a right to know: Besides if I were to be absent for an entire month, the rumors would be far worse than telling you the simple truth up front. I have never been restricted in my activity for such a long time, and I look forward to getting some reading done that I have not had the opportunity to do. I anticipate that I will be bored quickly, and so I’ll need to practice patience with myself—not an easy task to be certain.

...and local coverage from the Journal-Constitution:
Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta is a fighter. He has fought to expose sexually abusive priests, stop anti-immigrant legislation, reduce abortions and end the death penalty, reminding Georgia lawmakers that Jesus Christ was victim of it.

Now he is fighting the second-leading cause of death by cancer of men in the United States. He told his staff this weekend that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, said Pat Chivers, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Atlanta....

She said the announcement stunned her because she saw Gregory as not only the leader of 650,000 Catholics in 69 counties in northern Georgia but also the paragon of health.

"He rises early, he exercises, and he eats healthy," Chivers said. "He is feeling very peaceful about [the cancer] and very confident it has been found early,"

The five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 100 percent if caught early enough, according to the American Association for Cancer Research.

Doctors then will be able to evaluate whether he will need any follow-up treatments such as radiation or, if the cancer is advanced, chemotherapy, according to the cancer research association.
In two weeks' time down in Baltimore, it won't feel like November Meeting without Gregory -- formerly president and vice-president of the US bishops, still one of the body's most respected and effective voices.

Even far from the floor, though, he'll still have a better grasp of what's doing than most of us who are actually there.

All prayers and every wish for the archbishop's complete recovery and (very) quick return to the scene.