Keep Faith in Healing, Comfort

Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 22, 2012 | Go to article overview

Keep Faith in Healing, Comfort


Because Christmas is only three days away, this is an appropriate time to talk about the power of prayer in medical healing. This time of year provides an opportunity to be reflective and do what I've always referred to as "spiritual housekeeping."

In my many years as a medical writer, I've come across numerous cases in which faith did more than doctors thought was possible.

The best example is Hannah Kunkel of Bellevue, who was the focus of a special series that I wrote 12 years ago. Doctors at Children's Hospital gave her six months to live upon diagnosing her with a rare brain tumor. The family embraced their faith as divine intervention became their only hope. Hannah's cancer miraculously disappeared, stunning her oncologist, who called her a miracle.

"I believe the power of prayer is phenomenal, and that is probably the only reason that she's still alive," her oncologist, Dr. Regina Jakacki, said at the time. Hannah is having an 18th birthday party soon that I plan to attend.

I called Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, and he shared with me his own experience during his mother's battle with kidney cancer several years ago. His faith and connection with God gave him strength to get through the ordeal. He prayed daily. "Faith is my survival."

Zubik's mother, Susan, was treated for her illness and managed to stay cancer-free for two years. When the cancer came back, he continued to pray. So did his mother, who was able to be at peace with what was happening to her. She was a "very young 80" when she died in 2006, he told me.

"My faith in God helped me get through her illness, her death and beyond. …

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