How Faith Can Help Cancer Patients' Journey to Recovery
- After beloved New York news anchor Ruschell Boone, 47, revealed her ongoing pancreatic cancer battle had taken a turn for the worse, an outpouring of support came rushing in for the brave cancer warrior.
- Pancreatic cancer affects your pancreas when cancer cells grow out of control forming a tumor, according to the American Cancer Society. Early-stage pancreatic cancer tumors don't appear on imaging scans, and people typically don't experience symptoms until the disease has progressed.
- Since people with pancreatic cancer don't experience symptoms while the cancer is in its early stages, a diagnosis usually doesn't materialize until the cancer has spread (or metastasized) to other parts of the body.
- New York City Presbyterian Pastor Tom Evans previously spoke with SurvivorNet about how faith can help people cope with the complex emotions that come with cancer.
When award-winning journalist Ruschell Boone, 47, suddenly disappeared from newscasts across New York City last year, concerned fans suspected something was amiss. Sure enough, the beloved news anchor revealed her nine-month absence was caused by a cancer diagnosis.
Since her return this past Spring, she's once again become a familiar face delivering the news. However, when her cancer prognosis took a turn for the worse, she went on social media to update supporters. She was met with an outpouring of prayers and support.Read More
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"Unfortunately, my cancer has metastasized in my liver and I am back in treatment. It's been rough but the chemo is working. Please continue to pray for me. Those prayers have carried me through some really difficult moments," she continued.
Boone joined the New York City TV station in 2018. Her work over the years gained her a large and supportive following.
In 2021, she experienced "a nagging, vague stomach discomfort" the New York Post reported. In June 2022, she underwent a CT scan which led to her pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
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"I just started wailing, crying, and looking at my husband, thinking I heard it incorrectly. I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm dead'â€¦My kids are going to grow up without a mother," Boone recalled initially thinking. Luckily the brave news woman's cancer was caught early, and she overcame her first bout with the disease.
Pancreatic cancer affects your pancreas when cancer cells grow out of control forming a tumor, according to the American Cancer Society. Early-stage pancreatic cancer tumors don't appear on imaging scans, and people typically don't experience symptoms until the disease has progressed.
Since people with pancreatic cancer don't experience symptoms while the cancer is in its early stages, a diagnosis usually doesn't materialize until the cancer has spread (or metastasized) to other parts of the body.
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Since revealing her cancer has spread to her liver, supportive fans wasted no time chiming in on social media.
"I know a fighter when I see oneâ€¦and you know you've got a prayer ARMY behind you," one Instagram user wrote.
"I'm sorry to read this. Sending positive energy. I know this is a challenging time. It's not over until it's over. You have access to some great doctors. You've come very far! You are an inspiration!" Instagram user Jasmine Anderson wrote in support.
Better Understanding Pancreatic Cancer and Why It's Difficult to Catch Early
Pancreatic cancer is often called a "silent" disease, according to UCLA Health. That's because it usually takes a while before people experience symptoms. So when they do start recognizing symptoms, the disease has likely already progressed into an advanced stage.
The Cleveland Clinic explains that early-stage pancreatic cancer tumors don't appear on imaging scans. And there are no recommended screening routines for this type of cancer.
So with those unfortunate realities, many people learn they have pancreatic cancer once it's already spread (or metastasized) to other parts of the body.
WATCH: MD Anderson's Pancreatic Cancer Moot Shot.
"Catching this type of cancer early isn't easy," Drs. Elizabeth Ko and Even Glazier at UCLA Health said in an article on the facility's website.
"Pancreatic tumors are impossible to see or feel during a routine medical exam" Ko and Glazier explained.
The pancreas' location in the abdomen complicates the problem. It's tucked into the "upper curve of the small intestineâ€¦and the spleen. It's because of this location, surrounded and obscured by internal organs, that pancreatic tumors are impossible to see," Ko and Glazier continued.
Doctors diagnose pancreatic cancer after "a series of imaging scans, blood tests, and a biopsy," which are often done after you start experiencing symptoms, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Those symptoms may include unintentional weight loss, stomach pain, jaundice, or yellowing of the skin. People may also experience fatigue, loss of appetite, or light-colored stool.
More on Pancreatic Cancer
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- Can an Electronic Nose Sniff Out Cancer? A New Study Shows that an E-Nose System Can Detect Ovarian and Pancreatic Cancer
- Immunotherapy Offers New Hope for Fighting Pancreatic Cancer
- New Harvard Research Finds A Chemical In Cannabis Can Help Fight Pancreatic Cancer
How Faith Can Help Your Cancer Journey
Having faith can help keep your spirits high even during times of struggle. It's something SurvivorNet experts also say helps cancer patients during their cancer journeys.
New York City Presbyterian Pastor Tom Evans previously spoke with SurvivorNet about the importance of finding ways to cope with the complex web of feelings you may be experiencing after a challenging health diagnosis, such as cancer or a threatening tumor.
"It's important to reach out in a simple prayer to God, even if you've never prayed before, you don't know what to say, a heartfelt plea, 'God, help me, be with me,'" Pastor Evans told SurvivorNet.
"You can reach out to God, and you can reach out to people, your friends and, family, and say, 'I can't do this on my own. I need you.' "It's in that willingness to be open and to receive that we can find something deeper that we never would've encountered without this hardship," Evans continued.
WATCH: Turning to Faith During a Cancer Journey.
A study published in Cancer includes data that found "69% of cancer patients reported praying for their health" compared to "only 45% of the general U.S. population."
Cancer psychologist Dr. Andrew Kneier helped co-author "Coping with Cancer: Ten Steps toward Emotional Well-Being." He also co-authored a column published by Stanford Medicine with Rabbi Jeffery M. Silberman, director of spiritual care at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut.
The two add more context to the impact faith has on cancer patients.
"A person's faith or spirituality provides a means for coping with illness and reaching a deeper kind of inner healing," Kneier and Silberman said.
"Coping means different things to different people: it can involve finding answers to the questions that illness raises, it can mean seeking comfort for the fears and pain that illness brings, and it can mean learning how to find a sense of direction at a time of illness. Religious teachings can help a person cope in all of these dimensions," Kneier and Silberman continued.