Progressive faith leader Jim Wallis has revealed, through an intensely personal blog post, that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer last December and has been battling the disease and its fallout ever since.
Routine tests, according to Wallis, exposed the disease, although he had no symptoms beforehand. About to launch a book tour, the head of Sojourners described the incredulous emotional response he had to the diagnoses. Considering that Wallis felt, leading up to the shocking find, that everything was in control in his life, the cancer plight threw him for a loop.
“There had to be a mistake, or surely some convenient treatment that would suffice. Certainly, I would work this all out privately, and stay on schedule for everything else,” he wrote of his feelings when he first learned about the diagnosis. “But then the conversations started, as did meetings, further testing, time-consuming activities, discussions of medical options — and a deepening anxiety began to grow over the next several weeks.”
Wallis ended up postponing his book tour for “On God’s Side” — his latest literary project — and he proceeded to have surgery. But, treatment wasn’t as simple as he assumed. He writes:
A quick surgery at the end of the year didn’t work out for a number of frustrating reasons, discussions about medical options continued, and my care shifted to the research center at NIH, the National Institutes of Health. There, I took part in a new program using resolution MRI to guide surgical decisions — still a research effort, and not currently in use elsewhere. Such opportunities are available to anyone in the general public, and people can find out about the work going on at NIH and across the nation at its website. The NIH strives to innovate constantly in all areas of medicine, and their constant hope is that participation in such programs can provide both direct benefits to the individual, and an opportunity for their physician researchers to learn more about how to improve diagnosis and treatment for others in the future. (And, of course, this critical work is being severely cut in the sequester.)
He went on to explain that a plan for treatment was drafted and, one week ago, he underwent “major surgery” to combat the cancer. As of Thursday, Wallis said that the procedure went well, that the cancer was contained and that, so far, there are no signs that it spread beyond the prostate.
Doctors are telling the faith leader to take it slow as he recovers from the surgery and subsequent procedures.
Wallis claims that the experience has taught him how to handle both losing control and trusting in God — issues that are interrelated for most Bible-believing Christians. In terms of his reasoning for concealing the news, he admitted that there were two issues at hand: He was in denial and he wanted to avoid too many public questions about his health.
But now, he’s speaking up.
“Sitting in that hospital room, even in times of pain or anxiety, I was thinking about the billions of people around the world who don’t have all these health care resources available to them as we do, and don’t even have the chance or option to fight for their lives,” he wrote, delving briefly into the societal and political. “That must become a fundamental issue of love and justice for us; and I hope this experience will make it all more personal for me.”
Read Wallis’ entire blog post highlighting his cancer diagnosis and treatment.
(H/T: Christianity Today)
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