By Gina Morss-Fischer
Spirituality and prayer can provide a sense of hope to counter the hopelessness many breast cancer patients and their families often feel. In fact, a growing body of research finds prayer can play an important role in wellness.
That’s why on the Thursday before the fourth Annual Bloomington-Normal Race for the Cure, hundreds of area residents will gather to Pray for the Cure.
Paul writes in Romans 8:26: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
We’re in good company if, like Paul, we don’t have the words to articulate our prayers to God. Sometimes, in the face of overwhelming diagnosis like breast cancer, all we can offer is a sob or a sigh or a groan. We rely on something or someone bigger than ourselves to hear and interpret our cries.
No matter your belief system, organizers of Pray for the Cure promise there will be something for everyone. This year the evening of inspiration, prayer, music, and survivor sharing will be held Sept. 11 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. In previous years, breast cancer survivors, their friends, and loved ones have also gathered at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Bloomington and First Presbyterian Church in Normal.
Larry Dossey, MD, in his book Healing Beyond The Body: Medicine and the Infinite Reach of the Mind, defined prayer as “communication with the Absolute.” Zhi Gang Sha, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, states in his book Soul Mind Body Medicine, “a prayer is a message. Therefore, prayer can affect the transformation between matter and energy, which means that prayer can heal.”
Barb Haab knows something about the healing power of prayer. The 11-year breast cancer survivor’s journey began when she noticed a “crease” above her breast. She later learned this is technically is referred to as dimpling.
Haab explained, “My mammogram did not detect the cancer but my inner self pushed me to see my surgeon for his thoughts. He immediately suggested a biopsy which came back as positive for breast cancer.”
The Twin cities woman had a recurrence 18 months later. “Hearing you have cancer the first time is hard; hearing you have it a second time is harder yet. But, I’m now 11 years out and thankful for each and every day I’ve lived since that original diagnosis.”
Haab said her cancer diagnosis has presented her with so many positives, which may be strange to hear for those who have never been diagnosed to understand. “I’ve met so many amazing people on this journey called cancer and so many of them have deeply touched my life, “ Haab said.
She took advantage of early retirement to focus on passions that make a difference. She got involved with the Pink Partner initiative through the Community Cancer Center and was recently appointed to the Center’s Foundation Board. She has also taken part in past Peoria Races for the Cure and is excited that Bloomington-Normal is approaching its third year of its own Race for the Cure.“It is empowering to see so many women involved — all with a passion to end breast cancer,” Haab remarked. “As a survivor, it’s encouraging to see so many surviving this disease.”
This year, Haab has also joined the Pray for the Cure committee. “The purpose of the Pray for the Cure is to enhance the spiritual well-being of breast cancer survivors who are in the process of recovery and for continual healing. I’ve attended each Pray for the Cure event in Bloomington-Normal and each time find such inspiration in this non-denominational event. It’s such a wonderful evening that precedes the Race. It helps to prepare our hearts and minds as we join together for the Race.”
The event and reception typically lasts about an hour-an-a-half. Committee members lead the evening’s festivities, including special prayers for survivors and the medical community that cares for them. Guests at Pray for the Cure will also have the opportunity to share their breast cancer journeys with the crowd. After the community prayer and singing, participants get something good to eat and socialize if they choose. You see, there is power in sharing and coming together with a common purpose. Despite their many backgrounds and belief systems, the bond between breast cancer survivors is unique. It’s a club that no one chooses to join. But once you are part of it, you can gain strength from one another.
Eleven years cancer free — and Barb Haab gives thanks daily for good health. However, she knows that could change at any time. “I don’t live in fear, but I live with the knowledge of trusting my natural intuition and to know my body. I am aware. I am diligent in my breast health — doing monthly self-exams, annual mammograms, and clinical exams. It’s a three-prong approach.”
She leaves the rest to her creator, resting in the comfort of a loving God who gives her strength.
You may join Barb and others for a time of prayer, reflection, and celebration Thursday, Sept. 11, at 6:30 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. Then Saturday, Sept. 13, come run, walk, or just have fun at the fourth Annual Bloomington-Normal Race for the Cure at the State Farm Corporate South Campus. Runners and walkers take off at 9 o’clock that morning. To register, just go to komenmemorial.org.
Photo courtesy of Pray for the Cure