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October 1, 2011

2

A Pastoral Note

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

(The following is from our weekly Saint Matthew’s Matters bulletin insert)

Battling throat cancer these past seven months has been rather difficult. At first, my battle was with a cancer cluster in the back of my throat and in my right tonsil. After a round of treatment, the cancer had moved to a tumor in the lower left portion of my throat. And finally, following a second round of treatment, the doctors noticed that the tumor had shrunk, but a secondary tumor started growing right next to it.

That has led to my doctors deciding on a third treatment option—surgery and chemotherapy. This Tuesday, I will be entering the hospital for a form of microsurgery that will remove the tumors from my throat. My stay at the hospital should be relatively short. A couple of weeks later, I will begin a three-month round of chemotherapy that, with the help of God, will finally end this cancer escapade.

After discussing it first with my doctors and then with the leaders here at Saint Matthew’s, we’ve come to a decision regarding my recovery from surgery: I will be taking two weeks “off” from regular work here at church. Our ’during the week’ services will be canceled for the next two weeks, including our Saturday evening services on October 8 and 15. The Sunday services will go on as scheduled.

As I have battled cancer these past seven months, I have taken very little down time, which, according to my doctors, has been a very bad decision on my part. During my first round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, even though I found myself very ill at times, I did not take time to let my body sufficiently rest. Through my second round of radiation treatment, I continued to push myself. By the grace of God, I was able to do most—not all—of the pastoral care work here at church. And what helped motivate me to continue to battle through the weakness and lethargy was that I didn’t want to sit down and dwell on the cancer in my body. However, even with my outward appearance not being so bad, the time has come for me throttle back, a bit. For the next two weeks, I will be doing just that.

I will still be in town, at the parsonage; I am not going away on vacation (I have a number of doctor’s appointments scheduled during the next couple of weeks). The phone will still ring and I will answer it (or more likely, I will return telephone messages). I will try and answer emails and texts. And yes, I will continue to blog on “The Pastor’s Blog” on our church’s website and on my Google+ page (www.reviovine.com) and be somewhat active on Facebook. But I will not be in church. I will not attend church meetings. I will not be able to make visits. Following this two week respite period, my chemotherapy will start again and my visitation schedule will be minimized because with chemo, I could easily catch an infection.

The best part of getting microsurgery is that my vocal cords will not be impacted. Hopefully, as my voice continues to heal, in two weeks I will be my old boisterous self.

Until then, I have to take a little down time. Thank you for understanding. God’s blessings to you all.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 1 2011

    Brother Anthony, it’s good to see that after 6 years of ministry, you’re going to slow down and take some time off. Unfortunately, it has to come the expense of cancer. Remember, we pastors are not supermen, though we often think we are, as do our people. We are still sinful men. We still succumb to the results of a sinful and fallen world, including cancer. This is an opportunity for the people that God has placed to be your sheep to take care of their shepherd. May God continue to be with you and your congregation during the coming days and months. God bless you my friend!

    Reply
  2. Oct 1 2011

    Brother Anthony, it’s good to see that after 6 years of ministry, you’re going to slow down and take some time off. Unfortunately, it has to come the expense of cancer. Remember, we pastors are not supermen, though we often think we are, as do our people. We are still sinful men. We still succumb to the results of a sinful and fallen world, including cancer. This is an opportunity for the people that God has placed to be your sheep to take care of their shepherd. May God continue to be with you and your congregation during the coming days and months. God bless you my friend!

    Reply

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