Joe Paterno dies

Penn State football was Joe Paterno’s life.  Now, shortly after he was fired from the scandal-plagued program, he died.   He had a treatable form of cancer, but it killed him at age 85.

Do you think the timing was coincidental, the cancer being the sole physical reason why he died, or can mental trauma be a cause of death?  Do you know any other examples of that?

Fired Penn State coach Joe Paterno dead at 85 – Yahoo! News.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Jerry

    One name…Charles Schultz

  • Jerry

    One name…Charles Schultz

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Having served as a chaplain at M.D. Anderson, and years in the parish, I can attest to the power of the mind and spirit when dealing with diseases. It has been documented in studies that patients with good mental health and mental health support fair better. It has also been documented that patients with spiritual support fair better. Anecdotally, I have seen very determined patients with fairly severe cancers pull through and patients with mild forms of cancer so rocked by the news of cancer they died because they gave up.

    In the parish, I have seen people who though they struggled with health issues do quite well until they lose something in their life that had been important to them. In one case, it was a member who suffered from Pancreatic cancer. He lived long enough to be taken off hospice. Then he had a stroke that robbed him of his ability to go out. It was a matter of weeks before he died.

    For a man like Joe Pa, whose life revolved around football and coaching young men, to have that life ripped out from under him would be devastating. It is mentally crushing to have a job you loved taken away. I know guys who refuse to retire because they are convinced they will die soon after retiring because that happened to friends and family. The weight of a scandal and public censure would also take its toll mentally. The resultant depression even if it didn’t descend into full blown clinical depression would be enough stress to send his body’s systems into a tailspin.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Having served as a chaplain at M.D. Anderson, and years in the parish, I can attest to the power of the mind and spirit when dealing with diseases. It has been documented in studies that patients with good mental health and mental health support fair better. It has also been documented that patients with spiritual support fair better. Anecdotally, I have seen very determined patients with fairly severe cancers pull through and patients with mild forms of cancer so rocked by the news of cancer they died because they gave up.

    In the parish, I have seen people who though they struggled with health issues do quite well until they lose something in their life that had been important to them. In one case, it was a member who suffered from Pancreatic cancer. He lived long enough to be taken off hospice. Then he had a stroke that robbed him of his ability to go out. It was a matter of weeks before he died.

    For a man like Joe Pa, whose life revolved around football and coaching young men, to have that life ripped out from under him would be devastating. It is mentally crushing to have a job you loved taken away. I know guys who refuse to retire because they are convinced they will die soon after retiring because that happened to friends and family. The weight of a scandal and public censure would also take its toll mentally. The resultant depression even if it didn’t descend into full blown clinical depression would be enough stress to send his body’s systems into a tailspin.

  • –helen

    I have a friend (92) who is “warehoused” (her description) near her son, for his convenience and her medical care, six states away from where she’d rather be. She’s got everything they could think of, except familiar accents and people who would understand her memories. She’s been there 7+ years. The children are doing their best, by their understanding of it, but I wonder.

    With that on my mind, someone caught me off guard with a question about what I’d like to do and I said, “Drop dead at my desk.”

  • –helen

    I have a friend (92) who is “warehoused” (her description) near her son, for his convenience and her medical care, six states away from where she’d rather be. She’s got everything they could think of, except familiar accents and people who would understand her memories. She’s been there 7+ years. The children are doing their best, by their understanding of it, but I wonder.

    With that on my mind, someone caught me off guard with a question about what I’d like to do and I said, “Drop dead at my desk.”

  • DonS

    The way his death was reported made it sound as if he died from complications resulting from his treatment, rather than the disease. At his age, I suspect the treatment was too rigorous — at 85 enduring repeated rounds of chemo and radiation is difficult, and probably unnecessary, especially given all of the other emotional trauma he was enduring.

  • DonS

    The way his death was reported made it sound as if he died from complications resulting from his treatment, rather than the disease. At his age, I suspect the treatment was too rigorous — at 85 enduring repeated rounds of chemo and radiation is difficult, and probably unnecessary, especially given all of the other emotional trauma he was enduring.

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    My priest died 3 months after the death of his wife. He was old, but in good health.

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    My priest died 3 months after the death of his wife. He was old, but in good health.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Death is an odd thing–my Mom died when we had thought there wasn’t much of her colon cancer. For whatever reason, her body had lost its ability to regrow the things that need to regrow periodically–perhaps related to her chemo. So who knows what really happened with Paterno besides our Lord?

    What’s saddest about Paterno to me is the same thing that’s sad about Schultz; Paterno had only football and family, according to at least one quote, just like Schultz had apparently become a secular humanist. I hope those testimonies are wrong, and I sure don’t want to face the end of this life without the Savior.

    Or, for that matter, the middle of it, if in case I’m just middle aged now.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Death is an odd thing–my Mom died when we had thought there wasn’t much of her colon cancer. For whatever reason, her body had lost its ability to regrow the things that need to regrow periodically–perhaps related to her chemo. So who knows what really happened with Paterno besides our Lord?

    What’s saddest about Paterno to me is the same thing that’s sad about Schultz; Paterno had only football and family, according to at least one quote, just like Schultz had apparently become a secular humanist. I hope those testimonies are wrong, and I sure don’t want to face the end of this life without the Savior.

    Or, for that matter, the middle of it, if in case I’m just middle aged now.


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