Cancer, the very word in itself is enough to strike fear in the hearts of us all. Almost every one of us, at some point or another, will be affected by it and even if we have not had it ourselves we will know a friend or family member who are battling with the disease. The World Health Organisation estimates that seventeen people in the world die every minute from cancer.
Tuesday of this week, February 4 was World Cancer Day which is an annual event, led by the Union of International Cancer Control. It unites people across the globe, with the aim to raise awareness, improve education and encourage action to save and support more lives affected by cancer.
Billions have been raised, invested and spent on cancer research over many decades and people often wonder why a cure has not yet been found. However, as research progressed it became clearer that cancer is a complex illness. It is not one disease, it is 200 or more types and subtypes of cancer. So it is incorrect to talk about a cure for cancer as a magic bullet cure is unlikely, if not impossible.
Thankfully, cancer is not always a death sentence – particularly with the progress made in recent decades. Although the incidence of cancer is increasing, in many countries more people are surviving cancer than ever before.
A friend of mine had to cope with a very difficult aspect of the illness when her son aged only four, contracted cancer. This is very stressful, not only emotionally but also practically. You cannot talk to a child as you would to an adult.
The little boy missed school because of the treatment and when he was there he often found it difficult to concentrate. In some instances learning at all becomes almost impossible.
Parents don’t want to stop their children attending school, but at the same time the worry when they are there is heightened by the fact that they have a diminished immune system. Measles and mumps are a danger and the staff must be made aware of the concerns.
Because he was diagnosed so young there was a concern that his growth would be affected when he hit puberty so he was given growth hormones. Happily, this little boy has now grown into a healthy young man and has a family of his own. Where there is life, there is always hope!
If you or a loved one are living with cancer it can be extremely difficult. You may find comfort to know that St Peregrine is the patron saint of cancer sufferers.
His story states that was born in 1260, the only son of an affluent family in Forlì, in northern Italy. Early in life before becoming a monk, he had been very anti – Church. To atone for this he would stand rather than sit.
This habit caused a bad case of varicose veins, and one of his legs became infected with an open running sore that was diagnosed as cancer. On the night before the surgeon was to amputate the leg, Peregrine prayed before the crucifix for many hours. He believed he saw Christ come down from the crucifix and touch his leg. When he awoke the next morning, the leg was completely healed and the cancer gone.
Peregrine died on May 1st , 1345 and was ranked with the saints in 1726.
See below for prayer to St Peregrine for healing:
Prayer to St. Peregrine for Cancer “O great St. Peregrine, you have been called “The Mighty,” “The Wonder-Worker,” because of the numerous miracles which you have obtained from God for those who have had recourse to you. For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fiber of our being, and who had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more. You were favored with the vision of Jesus coming down from His Cross to heal your affliction. Ask of God and Our Lady, the cure of the sick whom we entrust to you. (Pause here and silently recall the names of the sick for whom you are praying) Aided in this way by your powerful intercession, we shall sing to God, now and for all eternity, a song of gratitude for His great goodness and mercy. Amen”.
Written by Marie – Therese Cryan