Some prayer requests – UPDATED

A few weeks ago, we talked about an Anchoress reader (Joseph) who is facing a frightening deterioration of his brain function, and many offered to pray for him (for which I know he is touched and grateful.)

Now reader Sarah, who has been a longtime friend of this blog (she is our resident Lutheran who loves Catholic saints but was unhappy, indeed, when I brought up St. Thomas More!) and she is a very kind, very sweet Southern Belle of a lady (she calls me “Miss A.”) has emailed:

Over the last 2 weeks I have had a problem with dissociation for the first time in a couple of years. I have been “gone away” maybe a third of my waking time. Obviously, it is impossible to function in any kind of meaningful way in this situation. I have been asking Teresa of Avila, my chosen [patron] saint, for help. Please join me in this.

It wouldn’t upset me, at all, if you could ask your readers for their prayers as well. Its not like I have cancer or something; but spending much of your life starring at the wall isn’t much of a life. I hope that’s what I’ve been doing, anyway. I have had periods where I only discover I have been going around doing things weeks after it actually happens.

I’m too scared to drive. The last time this happened, I had 13 car wrecks in 18 months.

I get goosebumps thinking about how frightening this must be. Hopefully this can be brought under control, again.

Also, do you remember Heather, the young pregnant woman who was dealing with cancer of the mouth and jaw? We’ve updated on her condition a few times, including the healthy deliverance of her son, Heath. Things were looking very good in April:

Today, she went back to begin her third week of radiation. The technicians opened her mouth to position the equipment relative to the tumor. Only…this time…there was nothing there. No tumor. No cancer. Nothing anywhere on her tongue, jaw, throat, mouth…nothing. The only evidence that she ever had that cancer was a small cancerous patch on her lymphnode which the doctors expect to respond well to radiation.

This week the news is rather grim:

Heather is now unable to speak. Her health is failing quickly from the cancer. The doctors have called the family to the hospital to make some very difficult decisions. Please pray for Ken and Paige and the entire extended family. As you may recall, Heather has an infant son (Heath) and a daughter getting ready to enter 4th grade.

She was between rounds of chemo for that last lymph node and we all expected her to get better. I talked to her dad yesterday and he didn’t mention that she was even feeling bad. Then this morning, they got this call out of the blue that she can’t talk and is being admitted to the hospital. I am assuming that she woke up unable to talk this morning, but I don’t know that for sure. I do know that this particular form of oral cancer can be very aggressive, but from all the news we’ve had things were going well except for pain and anemia during the chemo. Thanks for praying…I know that God isn’t finished with this situation yet.

Heather and her family have been through an enormous roller coaster ride, and they really need prayers to strengthen and sustain them at this time.

Also, please remember Jim in your prayers. He has been taking care of his aged mom, Dorothy, for the last 8 years. She has suffered a serious heart attack and is now dying.

I remain convinced that nothing we can do in our lives, no matter how great, can be matched by the good that is done by praying for the welfare of others, particularly when we are in anxiety about our own situations. Praying for others helps the world, and it helps the self, as well. The more you love, the more love you get. All of it comes back.

UPDATE: One more, from reader Mila:

My youngest son, Rodrigo, who is 32, has been diagnosed with a recurrence of a rare cancer he suffered from as a child, a synovial saracoma. Although it seems contained, the fact that it has shown up again after 23 years of being cancer-free is enough of a worry. At present he is undergoing tests to find out if the diagnosis is correct and if the cancer has spread anywhere. Once that is determined, he will have to undergo extensive surgery and most likely some radiation in order to kill off any stray cells. This should all be happening within the next couple of weeks. I’d appreciate it if you and your kind readers say a prayer for him.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Myssi

    I will definitely add Joseph, Jim and Sarah to the intentions of my fast day for Heather tomorrow. I don’t know, Dear Anchoress, if I am your token Baptist reader or not, but I do know the power of prayer offered from a sincere heart.

    [Myssi, I have lots and lots of Baptist readers and a few of them are dear friends, too. One of them even prays the Liturgy of the Hours with me! -admin]

  • http://TheAnchoressonline Aleeta

    I too will offer up my prayers for Heather, Jim, Joseph and Sarah and their families. May God give them the strength they need.

  • joseph

    Hello Anchoress.
    Thought you could spread this in you blog.
    As we hear that Obama’s health care fiasco will include funding for abortion the cafeteria Catholics should be shown that already Obama’s pro death policies are having consequences. Sorry about placing on this blog but did not know how to contact you.


    NY nurse threatened, forced to assist in late-term abortion
    ADF attorneys file lawsuit against hospital for violating Christian nurse’s rights of conscience
    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    NEW YORK — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Mount Sinai Hospital on behalf of a Catholic nurse who was forced to participate in a late-term abortion under the threat of disciplinary action, including possible termination and loss of her license. The hospital has known of her religious objections to abortion since 2004.

    Hospital administrators told the nurse that the scheduled abortion was an “emergency,” though evidence shows otherwise, and insisted moments before the procedure that she assist doctors despite her repeated objections to the procedure, which dismembered a preborn child in the 22nd week of gestation. By federal law, hospitals that receive federal funds cannot force employees to participate in abortion procedures under any circumstances.

    “Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Requiring a devout, Catholic nurse to participate in a late-term abortion in order to remain employed is illegal, unethical, and violates her rights of conscience. Federal law requires that employers who receive funding from tax dollars must not compel employees to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs, but this nurse’s objections fell on deaf ears.”

    “Chasing away workers from the health care field is disastrous health care policy,” said Bowman. “An individual’s conscience is likely what brought them to the health care field. Denying or coercing their conscience will likely drive them right out.”

    Administrators at Mount Sinai Hospital threatened senior nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo with disciplinary measures if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion. Despite the fact that the patient was not in crisis at the time of the surgery, the hospital insisted on her participation in the procedure on the grounds that it was an “emergency” even though the procedure was not classified as such.

    “Category I” is the classification reserved for “patients requiring immediate surgical intervention for life or limb threatening conditions.” The surgery in this case was classified as “Category II,” for operations needing to take place within six hours, indicating that the hospital had no reason to insist upon Cenzon-DeCarlo’s assistance in the abortion in order to protect the patient. Plenty of time existed to find a different nurse to assist, especially since evidence indicates that the patient’s condition did not rise even to a Category II. In fact, Cenzon-DeCarlo observed no indications that the abortion was a medical emergency while in the operating room.

    ADF attorneys filed the complaint in Cenzon-DeCarlo v. The Mount Sinai Hospital with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. They are also requesting a preliminary injunction that would order the hospital to honor Cenzon-DeCarlo’s religious objection against assisting in abortion and refrain from retaliation against her while the case moves forward. New York ADF-allied attorneys Joseph Ruta and Piero Tozzi are serving as local counsel in the case.

  • Sue from Buffalo

    I have offered up my prayers. I hope that all goes well for them.

  • Joseph Marshall

    I can, indeed, testify to my gratitude to all the Anchoress’ readers. I know that the air around me has changed to one of kindness and concern. It is possible to palpably feel these things from time to time, and whether or not my condition improves or its worsening slows, the mere fact that the atmosphere around me has so changed strengthens and focuses me to pray for the others on the list.

    And, in a sense, that’s all that really is needed. If you yourself are benefiting others by your prayers, your personal troubles are mere unpleasant circumstances not touching the good you are doing in the least. They become translucent and that good simply shines through them, even through death itself.

    I am firmly convinced of this.

    It is this focus of attention that my teachers’ tell me is crucial in prayer, and even if it lasts for only the snap of the fingers, it contributes to the whole.

    Many of the Anchoress’ readers may have no training in continuous and focused prayer, not all Christian denominations have preserved the range of helpful resources for it, and non-Christians have little to no contact with any such aids. But the mere momentary space of empathy and concern from anyone upon first reading makes its own contribution to the whole.

    One final thing for Sarah. If this is the first time in some years that this is happening to you there are two new medications that you may want to discuss with your doctor: Lamictal and Cymbalta. What they are discovering is an overlap in the treatment of physical seizures and that of many psychiatric conditions, and that the same drugs can benefit both. If you’ve never heard of them, ask your doctor about them.

  • Brian P.

    Funny how whenever I have serious things to pray about in my own life somehow I get hit with a list of other people who need prayer. Coincidence? Yeah sure.

    On it.


    Brian P.

  • March Hare

    I am so sorry to hear about Heather, especially after what seemed like a miraculous recovery in April!

    Joseph will remain on my list and I will add Sarah.

    Prayer is indeed powerful!

  • Sally Thomas

    I’m offering my rosary today for Joseph, Sarah, and Heather; you/they all have my continued prayers. God bless you, Anchoress, for the reminder.

  • Gayle Miller

    Many years ago, my aunt suffered a stroke. Recently, I detected a few signs that I too had – to a far lesser extent – many of the same symptoms. God working in His mysterious ways, it turns out that I had suffered an extremely mild stroke but that I was now completely lacking in symptoms! MRIs were done and it was discovered that my right carotid artery in my neck is 60% blocked (that’s the artery that caused the mild stroke) and that the left carotid artery in my neck is 70% blocked. Consequently, on 8/4/09 I will be having the right artery dealt with (it’s a very simple procedure and 2 attorneys in my office who have had it promise that I will receive “good drugs” to get me through it in comfort) and in early October the left artery will be given the necessary attention.

    But here’s the wonderful thing about this whole experience. As a result of this rather insignificant cerebral “incident”, I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea which lead to me getting a sleep machine and I now rest enormously well at night, which has lead to me being much more effective at work and at home. And, as if that wasn’t enough, my arthritis pain has diminished quite a bit as well!

    God is good. And sometimes what might be perceived as a woe is actually one of His blessings. Thus, I will be praying for Joseph and Sarah and Heather in the hopes that they will receive the same wondrous blessings as I have. As a side event to all of this, Sam the Wonder Cat has been diagnosed with diabetes! So he gets his insulin twice a day and his food intake is severely restricted. He’s gotten quite svelte and has a lot more energy! And he’s a lot funnier than he used to be – which was pretty doggone funny!

  • Karen

    I will definitely be praying for Sarah, Heather, Joseph and Jim. Sometimes, prayer is all we can offer. Most times, it’s all we need.

    I, too, am a Baptist who loves your blog. You express my feelings much more intelligently and eloquently than I ever could.

    God bless you and keep you.

  • Tioedong

    “Dissociation” sounds like complex partial seizures (AKA Temporal lobe seizures).

    Get thee to a Neurologist.

    [Sarah is in treatment and has been for a while, note the references to "last time." -admin]

  • Newguy40

    I added my own prayers.

    I appreciate the opportunity to pray for these folks. Thanks for the providing that opportunity.

    There is not much that I can add to Anchoress post or those comments here. I am more and more convinced that in the midst of my own difficulties, prayers for others only redounds. “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”

  • Rick Baxter

    I would suggest that your friends go to the website “” to check out Gary Craig’s EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Definitely worth a try!

  • lois in Indy

    What dear people you have here in and at your blog. Praying. lois

  • cathyf

    Funny how whenever I have serious things to pray about in my own life somehow I get hit with a list of other people who need prayer.

    What he said…

  • kelleybee

    yes, I will pray for these good folks.

  • Myssi

    Just wanted to update you and your readers that Heather’s sudden problem was an infection and that her fever is down and they were able to insert a feeding tube today. Considering on Monday, they told the family she probably wouldn’t live three days, that is its own small miracle. Hopefully, the feeding tube will help her regain her strength and chemo for the one nasty lymph node can continue. Thanks for your continued prayers for my friend. Myssi
    p.s. I’ve been known to pray the liturgy of the hours too, A., although almost never all of it in one day. That’s hard to find time for with 4 kids and full time job. :-)

  • cathyf

    Myssi, if you are pressed for time, I recommend morning prayer and night prayer. Both are reasonably short, but they pack in lots of encouraging and uplifting psalms and prayers. Morning prayer (lauds) has petitions, and night prayer (compline) has an examination of conscience, and they together form really good brackets for the day.

    [I admit I find morning prayer often difficult to get to - mornings are always a bit rushed - but evening prayer and compline are usually pretty easy to fit in, and lately, I have been finding time in the day (or round 9PM at night) to pray Vigils (the Office of Readings) and I'm liking that very much, because the psalms there are ones you rarely read for other hours, and because afterwards, it is natural to pick up some sacred reading material and "study" for a while. -admin]

  • Bo Bonner

    I happen to know Rodrigo personally from my days at Duke. He is a wonderful human being, and a very gifted Catholic New Testament scholar. I have talked to him on the phone recently, and I am happy to say that he is filled with the strength of prayers coming from all across America already. I thought this could be one way for his Mother to know that he has many prayers down here in Oklahoma directed his way via our Parish’s prayer list, and just to personalize the prayer request a bit. Thank you all for praying for my friend, he is a very dear person to all of us who know him.

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