Cancer Doesn’t Stop for COVID-19. Get Screened Today!!!

Nothing “religious” today. Just a simple message: Don’t put off getting screened for cancer!!! Whether it’s routine screening or you think something is wrong with you, don’t put off getting screened and/or checked out. We are learning the hard way that Americans are ending up with more advanced cancers that would have been less so if they were screened. I can tell you that as COVID-19 is raging cancer is right along with it. It doesn’t stop for any pandemic.

I am involved with a study of how the pandemic has impacted cancer screenings and treatment. I can’t share the data because we have a manuscript under review, but I can say it’s scary. People are putting off screenings and physician visits that would have caught cancers earlier. Everyone is so focused on COVID-19 that cancer is flying under the radar screen.

We worked with the Wall Street Journal on this article:

Covid-19 Outbreaks Led to Dangerous Delay in Cancer Diagnoses: ‘Cancer doesn’t take a pause’ but amid the pandemic, many Americans avoided oncology screenings and other potentially lifesaving procedures

I’m not trying to scare you. I’m just trying to get you, or anyone you know, screened for cancer, whether routine screening or because there is a potential problem. Help save lives!!!

Thanks and have an EXCEPTIONAL weekend!!!

A Virus Far Worse Than Any Novel Coronavirus

Hate. It’s a “virus” that is spreading all around the globe. I certainly see it spreading in this country (the United States; which are far from united!). And hate is spreading faster than any novel coronavirus. It’s being spread by a lot of so-called “christians” (the lower case “c” isn’t a typo). “So-called” because you’re certainly not a true Christian (meaning, follower of Jesus Christ) if you hate; in fact, you’re not a true Christian if you don’t actively love. ACTIVELY!!!

This is all too simple and clear. In facing His death—a gruesome death suffered for all of us in the supreme act of love—Jesus gave us one little, simple, clear command: love.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12

What part of that command don’t we understand? Yet, with about a third of the world made up of Christians, hate is spreading faster than any coronavirus. In this country, the name calling, destruction, and violence is unspeakable. Why? Because we have lost the ability to love and have found the ability to hate. We like hating.

Worried about the coronavirus and getting COVID-19? Sure. But I’m even more worried about giving in to hate. That’s why I’m determined to do just the opposite. To find love. To love. To find the face of Jesus in every face I look at, regardless of who the person is. To love.

I hope you help to fight hate by finding time to smile today, give something to someone in need, to help, to heal, to love.

 

Listening to COVID-19

I’m not one of those people professing that the novel coronavirus is a plague sent from God to signal the end of times. Yes, they are out there. I don’t think COVID-19 is anything “sent” from God, to punish us or otherwise. We’re facing a pandemic because viruses are a part of nature and we simply don’t do enough to respond to new ones. (Why is a different story for a different post.) My point in this post is that you should be listening, and learning, from COVID-19. What is it saying to you about you?

I know it sounds strange but I am trying to “listen” to this once-in-a-lifetime (let’s hope it is!!!) experience to hear what it tells me about me. What’s really important in my life? What do I miss in this pandemic? What does it tell me about my family and friends? What does it tell me about people I don’t know? I could go on and on.

COVID-19 has told me that life can hang on a thread. Yes, you can walk across the street, get hit by a car, and die that suddenly. But with COVID-19 raging all around us, death is all around us more than we have ever experienced. Cancer, the flu, heart disease are all killers, but COVID-19 deaths have come in a wave—OK, a tsunami.

I miss a lot of things that I thought I would never miss—like traveling for business most weeks. But I have a new appreciation for my family (my sister-in-law had a really bad bout of COVID-19; it was scary), my friends, my work, my health, and a lot of other things I take for granted. And listening to COVID-19 has helped tune my faith. After all, everything I am, everything I have, every breath I take, and everything else is in the hands of God. I may plan the way but God sets the course (Proverbs 16:9).

I hope this finds you well and safe!

And have an OUTSTANDING day!!!

What’s Really Important???

The novel coronavirus has been a virtual two-by-four to the side of the head in realizing what’s important in life. Health, life, safety, freedom, liberty, toilet paper, any kind of paper products, family, friends, meals together, school, bars, indoor dining, going out anywhere, the gym, traveling, airplanes, etc, etc, etc? All important to a degree but what’s most important? God.

The novel coronavirus and COVID-19 disease that has spread across the globe should be telling us how fragile, and precious, life is. To think that a microscopic virus can wreck so much havoc is beyond comprehension when you really think about it. It has disrupted life on a scale that’s now even tough to consider. But in any disruption, in any storm, there is always God. And if this experience has not driven us closer to God I frankly don’t know what will.

God the Father has created everything—you, me, coronavirus. Everything! God has a unique, special plan for you and me. Jesus shows the way and the Spirit empowers us along the way. This is the simplicity of life. In all this mess, this is what is really, really important. God. Father Creator, Son Savior, and Spirit Advocate.

If there has ever been a time to sit back and reflect on where we are going and what’s most important in life it’s now. What’s my real purpose in life? Where am I heading? What should I be doing differently? How can I LISTEN better for/to God? These are some of the questions I am asking myself. We all should be asking these questions and more.

I hope you have a really productive, and safe, rest of the week! And ask yourself what’s most important in your life.

What Has the Coronavirus Taught You?

It has taught me that this world is so much more fragile than imaginable. It has taught me that humankind is not in control, no matter how superior we think we are. It has taught me to never take anything for granted. It has taught me I miss the things I use to dislike (like traveling all the time). Unfortunately, it has also taught me that as a world, and even as a country, we are divided more than ever. But the most important thing I have learned is that I’m not in the driver’s seat. God is. I’m just a passenger. A very willing passenger.

As humankind, we think we are invincible. Well, a microscopic virus that virtually came out of nowhere just taught us differently. We may think we own this planet and it is ours to do with what we want but it’s clearly not. We have learned over a brief few months that we are not the rulers. We are the ruled. We have been brought to our knees. That is worth really, really, really thinking about.

At the beginning and end of each day, God is really the one in command. He gave us a world of abundance that can house and feed everyone. But look at what we have done with it. We are killing it. And masses go without food every day.

I’m not trying to be a downer. Just the opposite. I have been given a wake-up call. I use to complain about that dump we call Laguardia Airport and it being my home-away-from-home I was there so often flying out of it. Now, I can’t wait to see it again, to go through security, and to fly. To stay in a hotel. To sit in my office in D.C. To walk the halls of Congress. To get back to the old normal. Not the new normal.

But most of all I have said to God, “Here, you have the wheel. Drive.” Father, tell me where I need to go. Jesus, lead the way and let me follow you way—The Way. Holy Spirit, keep me empowered along The Way.

The world looks different to me. Last week, I drove on a highway for the first time in months and kept driving right out of Connecticut. It was like my eyes were opened to a new world.

Yes, we are divided like never before. The politics in this country, and all around the world, is destructive. In some respects, that unseen virus has divided us more than we were BC (before coronavirus). But I refuse to let that get me down. In my own little way I will be a uniter, not a divider. I will smile. I will help. I will give. I will love—just like God has commanded.

This coronavirus captivity has taught me a lot. It has changed me. I hope for forever. I know for the better. I hope it has taught you something. I hope you will join me in being a uniter. In smiling, In helping. In giving. In loving. As God has commanded us to do and specifically the one and only commandment Jesus left us with before He have up His life for you and me.

Be well. Stay safe. Love. And unite!!!

Hope

Hope may be something in short supply during these COVID-19 days. What seems like a never ending nightmare may seem like it truly will never end. Will we ever get back to normal? Will we have to wear masks everywhere—forever? Is there really going to be a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall/winter? The list of questions goes on and on and so with them hope seems to fly out the window. So, what are we to do?

Hope! That’s what we are to do. This is not the end of life as we know it. It’s the beginning of a new life, hopefully a new life that will make us look at the world and each other a little differently. As in differently better.

If anything, this COVID-19 experience should be a good time to take stock. Figure out what really matters, what’s most important in life. COVID-19 should be a lens that makes us look at our world in a new light. A light of love. A light of caring for others. A light of respect for the other person. A wave. A smile. A helping hand.

Jeremiah told the people of Israel that, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Jeremiah told the Israelites that their “normal” wouldn’t be for 70 years when they would return from captivity in Babylon. He told them to live their lives, marry, and have children. He gave them hope. The same hope that we will come out of this COVID-19 pandemic stronger and better as people. If we don’t, it’s a terrible experience lost.

Have hope! Use this time to revaluate. Look at your life in a mirror. Hit the pause button of how you lived your life in the past as COVID-19 has hit the pause button on our “normal” lives. And, most importantly of all, in the quiet that COVID-19 has brought to our lives, LISTEN for/to God. He’s there. Less than a heartbeat away. Spend some time with Him. That will give renewed hope, purpose, and outlook to your life!

Be well and be safe!!! 

What Has the Coronavirus Taught Us?

Nothing in modern history, not even 9/11, has come anywhere close to providing the opportunity to soul search like this novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 health crisis. Especially in the hot spots, we have been shut in and in many cases shut out of work and school. BC (before coronavirus), families were running all over the place, sometimes barely talking and less frequently sitting down for a meal together. Now, families are shut in together and forced to converse and eat together. But what has this taught us, if anything?

The things I use to complain about I now finding myself missing. Traveling almost every week, Laguardia airport in New York, traffic in Connecticut, walking the halls of Congress in D.C. are among those things that use to get to me, more than on occasion. Now, I find myself missing them. Except for a run to the grocery store, or a morning run on the local rail trail, I’m a shut in with my wife. I have a lot (a LOT!) of phone and Zoom contact with work people and friends but it’s not the same as live interactions.

I think the most important thing I have learned is to be thankful. Thankful for the things that use to bother me and I would complain about. Thankful for all the basics—yes, I would include toilet paper on that list—that I simply took for granted BC. Thankful for the company of friends, even if BC I was more than happy with a good book than at a party having to converse with people. Thankful for my health as I watched my healthy sister-in-law struggle for 5 weeks with COVID-19. But, most importantly, thankful for God and my faith. If there is ever a time to fall back on faith and put your trust in God it’s DC (during coronavirus).

If there is ever a time to truly soul search it is now, DC. What do we want to do differently, how do we want to live differently PC (post coronavirus)? This is what I have been asking myself and hope you have done some reflection on as well. Do we keep aimlessly wandering the desert of life, like the Israelites, or do we follow the path and purpose that God has laid out for our lives? We may not know it, but God most certainly has laid out a purpose for each one of us. A unique, special, individual purpose for each one of us. For you, For me.

Life purpose. That’s a good thing to reflect on DC as we prepare for life PC.

Be well; be safe!!!

Would You Recognize Jesus?

If you took a seven mile walk with Jesus and listened to Him talk with you, would you know Him? Imagine spending three years roaming the countryside with Jesus and then not recognizing Him! Imagine thinking that Jesus was some gardener? All this and more happened after Jesus died and rose again on the walk with the disciples to Emmaus, multiple times with the apostles, and with Mary at the tomb. What was it about Jesus that they did recognize Him?

There are lots of theories that our “spiritual bodies” are somehow transformed from our “earthly” bodies. They’re not exactly the same. Let’s put that all aside for a minute.

Jesus was raised body and soul from the dead, with the nail holes in his hands, side, and feet intact. So was He a “different” Jesus or were the eyes “closed” of everyone around Him, including His closest followers. Bingo!

God (including Father, Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) is in everyone. That means, you, me, and every other person past, present, and future. God made us, so He is very much in us. Whoever you look at, you are looking straight in the eyes of Jesus. But do you recognize Him? I can tell you that in all my failings that there are a lot of people I know who I do not see Jesus.

That’s the problem with life and our walk through it. We don’t see Jesus. Yet, we should see Jesus in the mirror as well as in every person we walk by on the street—well, use to walk by on the street BC (before coronavirus).

Here’s a challenge for the week. Whoever you see on TV or behind that mask at the supermarket you are seeing Jesus. Look real hard. It’s Jesus in the face of anyone you are looking at. And how would you treat Jesus if you were looking at Him? Something to think about this week.

These are tough times that truly test our faith. Look for Jesus in the faces of others and your faith will get a boost. And we will get through this. With Jesus!

Have an AMAZING week!!! 

No Coronavirus Easter

Strange. No Passion, except on TV/internet. Tomorrow, no in-person Mass on Easter Sunday. (We have been “watching” Mass on CatholicTV live from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus—Beautiful!!!). This Lent has been a real desert in terms of isolation. Maybe that has helped us identify with the isolation Jesus felt those 40 days in the desert. Maybe it will help us get out of the deserts in our lives after this crisis is over (and it will be over!!!). For now, we should blossom in what tomorrow represents—the glory of Jesus rising from the dead. There will be no coronavirus in Easter tomorrow!

The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years before crossing over to the Promised Land. Jesus isolated Himself in the desert for 40 days before His brief 3-year ministry. Many/most of us in the U.S. have now been quarantined in our houses for going on 40 days—some working at home, others out of work. And there are “deserts” everywhere—on the sidewalks, streets, highways, and etc. depending on where you live.

I have tried to use this time, on top of a lot of work at home, to really think about what is important in life. I fly a lot for work. On airplanes and elsewhere I am always in the midst of a lot of people. I spent a lot of time in Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill. I can’t count the times I have wanted not to fly for a while, to get away from people, and to really get away from the politicians. Well, I got my wish. Now I want that wish to go away.

I’m fortunate to have the work and position I have. Along with my faith and my family, it’s a gift from God. I know what I do—advocating for patients and cancer care—is a calling. And sometimes I forsake that gift and calling because I focus too much on myself, and not on others.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching during this coronavirus “desert” I have been in this Lent. It’s time to come out and allow the Risen Lord Jesus to rise me up. There will be no coronavirus Easter this year. The isolation will continue for a while then the world will come out of this. And I will come running out of it! Faith, family, work, cause, and doing my little part in making the world a better place. Time for all of us to stop wandering and isolating, and to do our parts in making this world a better place.

Wishing you all a blessed and glorious Easter!!!