FR. GREG FAMILY UPDATE
I would like to first, and foremost, thank everyone for all of your thoughts, prayers, and cards that I have received over the past few months. Although I am no longer able to text or write myself, I still want to hear from you. My dear sisters have served as "secretary" for me in responding to phone calls, texts and the many letters/cards and gifts I have received. Although they may not always feel like it, they are truly angels of God. I feel very blessed to have them in my life.
I do believe that your many prayers have served me well this summer. At my last visit to the neuro-oncologist at Northwestern University Medical Center the end of June, I learned that the growth of my two primary brain tumors had slowed and that there was no evidence of any new tumors present. Hallelujah! However, the side effects of my chemotherapy and adjunct therapy tend to wear me down, so I often do feel tired, stiff, and a little weak. Also, because of the brain hemorrhage I sustained last November, my speech is significantly impaired and will likely never improve from what it is currently. Nonetheless, I try to continue to serve by hearing confessions and con-celebrating at mass with Fr. Schultz and Fr. Pica. I so much appreciate their patience and support in helping me to make this possible. I also appreciate the support and graciousness I have received from our own Bishop Jenky in allowing me to remain in the rectory at St. Patrick of Merna.
In closing, I ask that you continue to pray for me. My next visit to the neuro-oncologist will be on August 17, so I am hoping and praying that I get another favorable report. One of the goals that I have set for myself is to be on that bus trip later in September to watch the Cards versus the Cubs game at Wrigley Field. The Cards won 3 out of the 4 games I was present for at the end of May, so I believe it's important that I attend that September game!! Most importantly, remember that Jesus loves you and me. This is what truly sustains me on my "bad" days when I'm not feeling 100%.
Love and peace to you all!
Monsignor Greg Ketcham"
Father Greg did not qualify for the clinical trial but in on a new chemotherapy drug. Your continued prayers are felt and appreciated.
Dear Parish Families and Friends –
Dear Parishioners -
As you may have heard Fr Greg had some appointments in Houston this past Sunday into Monday. He received some very good news! The inoperable cancerous tumor (about 2 inch circle) is now near being in remission, with live cancer cells remaining in a very small part (the size of a tip of a finger). The doctors were very pleased with those results as are we!! Fr Greg will begin another intense round of treatment the day after Christmas which will last a week. He will have three weeks off then return to Houston for an MRI and with those results the doctors will re-evaluate. We are hoping and praying it will be in remission at this point! This cancer can grow back at any point - which the doctors are expecting will happen though hopefully NOT soon! There is still some blood on the brain, this has caused Fr Greg to still struggle with words, which the doctors are expecting to get better as the remaining blood continues to reabsorb. Fr Greg is also taking anti-seizure medicine which makes him feel not with it and in a few days they will be changing medication...hopefully that helps and doesn't have the same side effects. Fr Greg continues to concelebrate Mass with Fr Pica and myself at his leisure, which is great! He will concelebrate a few Christmas Masses - namely the 4pm vigil and the 9am morning Mass. He is planning on celebrating the daily Mass December 26th. Beginning Jan 2, Fr Greg is planning on gradually doing ministry as his body and health allows. I will remain helping Fr Greg until it seems I am no longer needed. Please continue to keep Fr Greg in your prayers! This news is a great Christmas gift! God bless.
- Fr Schultz
Fr. Greg went down to Houston for his appointment on Thursday. There were some complications after the MRI and he was admitted to the hospital. He should return this coming week. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.
Your Parochial Vicar, Fr. Michael Pica
Hi Parishioners and Friends,
As you know, I traveled to MD Anderson in Houston on October 16-17. I had my first MRI since the summer when I had treatment of radiation and oral chemo for a brain tumor. Unfortunately, the MRI was still too affected by the radiation. Thus, the doctor was unable to determine if the tumor was better or worse. The doctor has me on oral chemo and made an appointment for me on Nov. 17. Please keep praying for me! Jesus Reigns!!!
Hi Parishioners & Friends!
This will be my last "Statement" for quite a while I anticipate. My treatment has gone well. I will be flying home into Bloomington on September 27. It's now time for me to regain my normal routine of parish ministry and get things back to normal again. Bishop Jenky verbally stated to me that as of noon on September 27, the Administrator of St Patrick of Merna Parish and St Mary's in Downs (Fr Dustin Schultz) has been relieved of duty. I am VERY GRATEFUL to Fr Dustin Schultz! He has done an outstanding job and now will have even further time to give to his assignments of St Patrick in Wapella and Central Catholic High School. I very much look forward to his friendship and working with him at Central Catholic High School. I also want to recognize the pastoral work in my absence of our outstanding parochial vicar Fr Michael Pica and our wonderful Staffs at Merna and Downs. They are hard working and touch the lives of our Parish Family Parish and beyond each day. Please be aware of my need to ease into my normal routine. This will take a little time, but I am SO EXCITED to be coming home and be with all of you! Many of you have donated toward my ongoing treatment. I am grateful for your love! I will need to travel to Houston every 2 months for a couple of days to have an MRI and speak with my physician at MD Anderson. I continue to advocate that only Jesus is the true Divine Physician and He alone Reigns!!!
Hi Parishioners and Friends!
I got a little reprieve from Houston on Saturday and Sunday by going three hours south to Port Aransas Beach. The doctor this week lowered me from 4mg to 2 mg steroids. Thus, the brain swelling has reduced and tumors must be decreased. My radiation is done on September 26 and I will fly home on September 27. I will have three weeks without oral chemo. I will fly back to Houston October 16-17 for an MRI. I will need to fly to Houston every two months for MRI's. My picture can show how much weight I have lost. My doctor is amazed by my commitment to exercise and healthy eating. My head is clear and my balance is great. I feel strong and am excited to be with you soon. I have you all in my daily prayers!
Hi Staff, Parishioners, and Friends!
Today, September 2, marks my half way point of radiation (daily oral chemo continues). Last day will be on September 26. It was quite a surprise to receive the wonderful green t-shirts in the mail from Jill Hartke ... THANKS Jill & Hartke Family for all your hard work! The picture includes my sister Clarisse Slater who is also parishioner of St Patrick of Merna and a member of a Small Group. I hope that all of you have a wonderful and blessed Labor Day Weekend! Jesus Reigns!!!
I start tomorrow my third week of treatment - radiation and oral chemo (traditional treatment). My last round of radiation is scheduled for September 26. Can't wait! The oral chemo will continue on. But, my physician will soon be able to let me know when I can fly home after September 26. I will spend about three weeks home and have to fly back to Houston probably the first week of November for an MRI. That will show if the traditional treatment for my brain tumor was successful. If God blesses the traditional treatment, I will smile! If not, I will trust Jesus and we will have a conversation with the physician about alternative treatments such as clinical trials and immunotherapy.
I love the green shirts that many have emailed me pictures of - very sharp and evangelical that Jesus can give a peace the world cannot (Jn. 14:27). You might be asking what I do with my time? Well, I pray about three hours each morning - Divine Mercy Chaplet, Holy Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, and then I pray Scripture. I have prayed the New Testament twice. St Vincent de Paul Church in Houston has been very good to me! I often concelebrate Holy Mass there daily or say a private Mass with my sisters in my temporary apartment. My apartment is close to RICE University so there is a wonderful walking path which is shaded so I get about six-seven walking miles in per day. My physician wants me to exercise and I have been meeting regularly with a nutritionist so that I can starve the cancerous brain cells. My radiation is usually at 2:45pm each day and my oral chemo is taken before bed. I want you all to know how much I miss you and cannot wait to get home! I still have LOTS of plans for St Patrick of Merna and St Mary's in Downs. I am very proud of the Staff (including Fr Michael) and our temporary administrator Fr Dustin Schultz for all they are doing in my absence. But, be assured, I am COMING BACK and I pray for all of you daily! Jesus Reigns!!!