FORT WAYNE — The Rev. John M. D’Arcy has asked for prayers after receiving word from doctors that he is receiving “palliative” treatment for a rare form of cancer.
The bishop emeritus of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese issued a statement dated Wednesday that his doctors had ordered 15 days of “palliative” radiation treatment for a “quick-striking” cancer. He did not specify what kind. He is being treated at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in his hometown of Boston.
Palliative care is meant to relieve suffering and ease symptoms rather than effect a cure.
The term does not necessarily mean a condition is terminal and can be used in cases of serious or chronic disease. But it often refers to care as a patient nears the end of life.
D’Arcy wrote that the radiation had eased many symptoms and added “there will be some consideration of chemotherapy” after the radiation is concluded.
He has asked for prayers “that I will accept this and whatever is to come with a full heart and a full ‘Yes’ to God.”
On Jan. 2, D’Arcy, 81, reported he had been diagnosed with cancer of the lung and brain after feeling unwell shortly after Christmas while on a visit to see his family in Boston and that he would undergo radiation.
In 2011, he was diagnosed with intermediate-stage prostate cancer.
Dr. Michael Crook, director of Lutheran Hospital’s Palliative Care Service and medical director of Fort Wayne’s Visiting Nurse and Hospice Home, said that while some radiation treatments are curative, the intent of palliative radiation is to make the patient feel better.
Palliative care typically employs a team of practitioners to address a patient’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs, Crook said.
“We’re experts in pain and symptom management, and our goal is to achieve the highest quality of life possible for the patient,” he said.
In his Jan. 2 statement D’Arcy said he planned to return to Fort Wayne in two to three weeks and keep his commitments locally, pending the advice of his doctors.
Sean McBride, diocese spokesman, said it’s unclear now whether that will happen. He said he did not know more about the nature of D’Arcy’s condition.
“I do know he is being treated as an outpatient and is staying at the family home where he grew up,” he said.
D’Arcy was diocesan bishop from 1985 until early 2010, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Michael C. Rhoades after exceeding the mandatory retirement age of 75 for Roman Catholic bishops.
In the latest statement, D’Arcy wrote he was grateful to God for “the extraordinary life he has given me and the grace he has poured out on me,” as well as for his family, his Roman Catholic faith and “the gifts of the Holy priesthood,” of which, he wrote, “I have never felt worthy.”
He concluded: “Above everything, pray for me and my soul and that I will be found worthy to enter the heavenly place that God has prepared for all of us, where I hope to meet my dear parents and so many loved ones.”