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September 17, 2011

A Prayer Can’t Hurt

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

This afternoon, I had an appointment with my oncologist to review the results of my latest cancer tests. Nervous, but confident that the cancer has not been beaten back yet, I headed on out to New York City. However, I first decided to stop by the local 7-Eleven on Main Street in New Milford to pick up a few magazines for the gentleman I met on Tuesday night at the hospital. During the week, I set aside my copy of the New York Times Magazine that came in last weekend’s Times and a copy of The Sporting News I received in the mail for Ken, the man in the wheelchair who was searching the hospital for a magazine that wasn’t a year old.

At the 7-Eleven, I picked up a Sports Illustrated and a Hockey News magazine for Ken while taking along a 20 ounce Pepsi Max for me.

When I arrived in the city, I pulled into a parking lot that would modestly cost me $15 to park for an hour and walked over to the hospital. When I entered Ken’s room, he was surprised to see me and even more surprised to get an updated SI to read. Thanking me, he extended his right hand and grasping his, he said it was nice to see me.

“At least you can talk tonight.”

“Well, I can talk, but not so good,” I replied.

He was struggling what to order for dinner. He really wanted a slice of pizza from a stone oven place in Brooklyn he likes to frequent, but since he’s been in the hospital on a low-salt, low-fat diet, stone-fired pepperoni pizza was out. Ken was flip flopping over the chicken breast or marinated salmon.

“Either way, this stuff is going to taste terrible.”

In the end, the salmon won out simply because it was Friday. Growing up Roman Catholic, he said he never ate meat on Friday as a kid. I told him that I took that rule a little more seriously — I don’t eat any meat on any day. Surprised to hear that I was a vegetarian, he asked me if I was one of those animal rights people who throws paint on women wearing fur coats.

“No, the paint is too expensive,” I said.

I explained that for health reasons, I stopped eating meat.

“Good job. You stop eating meat and you get cancer. My advice, eat a (bleeping) steak with a bottle of chianti. That’ll kill the cancer.”

We both laughed.

After some small talk, I had to leave for my appointment. Ken said that it was possible he could be getting out of the hospital on Monday or Tuesday. I promised him that we would say a prayer for him in church this weekend. He smiled.

“A prayer can’t hurt.”

No, it can’t.

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