Turning To Faith Amid Cancer
- Retired judge Frank Caprio, 87, has revealed he’s been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As the beloved judge shared the news this week, he has also requested prayers and is turning to faith during his health battle
- Research suggests that faith can have a positive effect on the life expectancy of people battling cancer. A study in The Journal of Medicine and Life suggests that people who have religious belonging can triumph over cancer with more self-confidence and hope for the future.
- Tom Evans, pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City, says opening up to others, including God, after receiving a cancer diagnosis can help you cope with the intense feelings you may be having.
- Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the pancreas. It is more challenging to treat because symptoms usually don’t present themselves until the cancer has spread or metastasized. Symptoms may include weight gain, back pain, and jaundice.
- Treatment options for pancreatic cancer may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.
- Genetic testing can help you understand your cancer risk. It’s beneficial if you have a family history of cancer or are already diagnosed with cancer. Genetic testing of cancer tumors can help doctors better understand how the tumor functions and the best treatment option for it.
Caprio, who served as a traffic judge in Providence, Rhode Island, and prides himself in being a husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, went public with his cancer diagnosis in a video he shared this week.Read More
In Caprio’s cancer announcement video, shared on Wednesday, he made the following request, “I ask each of you, in your own way, to please pray for me.View this post on Instagram
“I am in need of the power of prayer, which I believe in addition to the medical treatment that I am receiving is the most powerful weapon to help me survive this.”
Caprio explained he’s been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, something he described as “an insidious form of cancer.” Despite his diagnosis, the retired judge looks to be in good spirits and is doing well amid the medical treatment he’s now receiving.
Expert Resources On Pancreatic Cancer
He said, “I’m being treated by a wonderful team of doctors, both here in Rhode Island and at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. I pray that God guides their thoughts and their hands in their treatment of me.”
Caprio, who entered retirement earlier this year after working approximately 40 years as a judge, continued, “I would ask each of you in your own way to please pray for me.
“I am in need of the power of prayer, which I believe in addition to medical treatment that I’m receiving, is the most powerful weapon to help me survive this.”
Noting that he recently celebrated his 87th birthday, a milestone event which led to him receiving “so many wonderful messages from people around the world,” Caprio admitted his year things are “a little different.”
Caprio, who shared some photos of himself during his recent hospital visits, added, “Quite recently, I was not feeling well and received a medical examination and the report was not a good one.
“And so I have been diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas which is an insidious form of cancer … I know there’s a long road ahead and I’m fully prepared to fight as hard as I can.”
We’re delighted to see Caprio isn’t letting his diagnosed bring down his spirits, in fact, in a recent interview with NBC10 and speaking at his Federal Hill office, the famed judge said, “I honestly feel that I’m going to survive this and get through it.”
Caprio is set to undergo his second round of chemotherapy next week at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
“I’m a very strong believer in the power of prayer. I pray a lot. Fortunately for me I have other people who are praying for me,” he continued.
“When you receive a message that you’re sick, you really take stock of what’s going on in your life. And you realize that life is a precious gift and to enjoy every minute of it.”
Why Faith Offers Cancer Patients Hope
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.
WATCH: How Faith Helped a Three-Time Cancer Survivor Through her faith helped her during cancer.
New York City Presbyterian Pastor Tom Evans tells 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.
“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.
The Power of Prayer
Prayer can be a powerful tool following a cancer diagnosis. According to a 2015 National Health Interview Survey, 69% of cancer patients reported praying for their health compared to 45% of the general United States population.
There’s even research that suggests faith plays an important role for patients and their loved ones when deciding on a treatment path.
Researchers for a study published by the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Journal of Clinical Oncology interviewed 100 patients with advanced lung cancer, their caregivers and 257 medical oncologists. They asked the participants to rank how certain factors influenced treatment decisions.
Those factors included the cancer doctor’s recommendation, faith in God, the ability of treatment to cure the disease, side effects, a family doctor’s recommendation, a spouse’s recommendation and their children’s recommendation. And the results revealed that although all groups ranked the oncologist’s recommendation as most important, patients and caregivers ranked faith in God second while physicians ranked it last.
Another study even suggests there’s a link between prayer and life expectancy. Research published in The Journal of Medicine and Life suggests that “religious beliefs and religion belongings can be a real relief and can have an excellent effect on the future of the patients” and there is “a significant relationship between praying and life expectancy.”
The researchers say that “patients can overcome their illness through praying, and they can also triumph cancer through self-confidence and control it, by getting more knowledge of their disease and become more hopeful about their future.”
Pancreatic Cancer: A Breakdown
Symptoms often don’t present themselves until the disease has spread. Some of the main symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer may include jaundice, weight gain, back pain or diabetes.
This leads to more late-stage diagnoses, and therefore treatment options can be more limited.
According to Dr. Anirban Maitra, 80% of diagnoses are caught in later stages since symptoms don’t present themselves until the disease has already spread.
One of the main reasons pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to treat is because of the stroma, a barrier around cancer cells which prevents medications, such as chemotherapy and radiation, from targeting and killing these cells. If these cells continue to grow, then the disease will continue to progress.
“Think of pancreatic cancer as an oatmeal raisin cookie and the raisins are actually the cancer cells, and the cookie part is actually all the stroma around it,” Dr. Allyson Ocean, a medical oncologist at Weill Cornell Medical Center, previously told SurvivorNet.
“And imagine having to navigate through all that stroma for a treatment to be able to get into a cell to kill it. So that’s why the treatments just really aren’t good enough to penetrate the cancer. But we’re improving, we’re getting better treatments.”
Treatment for pancreatic cancer, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, vaccination, pain management, immunotherapy and dietary changes.
Immunotherapy, in particular, has been making waves in pancreatic cancer treatment, but other types of treatments are being studied all the time via clinical trials, research studies that compare the most effective known treatment for a specific type or stage of a disease with a new approach.
Clinical trials do not guarantee you will be given the most effective treatment, so it’s important to know they are not right for everyone. Before getting involved with one, talk with your doctor(s) and consider the following general risks of enrolling in a clinical trial:
- The risk of harm and/or side effects due to experimental treatments
- Researchers may be unaware of some potential side effects for experimental treatments
- The treatment may not work for you, even if it has worked for others
If you or a loved one has pancreatic cancer and you’re curious about clinical trial options, consider using the SurvivorNet Clinical Trial Finder: an A.I. driven tool for patients to find clinical trial options for treatment.
The tool is updated daily and built on top of clinicaltrials.gov, a database maintained by the U.S. government that compiles privately and publicly funded clinical trials conducted around the world, and gives users access to more than 100,000+ individual clinical trials.
“Clinical trials are critical to the development of new therapies, and as we live through this extraordinary revolution in genomics, immunotherapy and targeted therapy, it’s clear that one of the most pressing needs for patients, clinical trials sponsors, and researchers is simply a better way to find patients, “SurvivorNet CEO Steve Alperin said. “Even one percent more people successfully enrolled in clinical trials can change the world.”
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff