.- Cardinal Francis George will undergo six sessions of chemotherapy over a period of four months to treat his second bout of cancer.
“Please continue to keep the Cardinal in your thoughts and prayers,” the Archdiocese of Chicago said Aug. 28.
The cardinal’s doctors at Loyola University Medical Center have settled on his course of treatment.
The 75-year-old cardinal will begin chemotherapy on Sept. 5. Each session will last three weeks. He will undergo chemotherapy during the first two weeks of each session and then spend a week without chemotherapy to allow his immune system to recover.
He plans to keep his regular work schedule, the archdiocese said. During weeks without chemotherapy, he will reduce his public schedule on account of his weakened immune system.
Medical tests found that the cardinal had a liver nodule which contained cancerous cells. He also had cancer cells in his right kidney. The tests could not confirm whether there is cancer elsewhere in his body.
The archdiocese said that Cardinal George is grateful to all those who have sent cards and e-mails expressing their concern and promising their prayers.
This is the cardinal’s second battle with cancer. He was first diagnosed in 2006 when at the age of 69 he underwent a five-hour operation to remove his bladder, prostate gland and sections of his ureters, the tubes which connect the kidneys to the bladder. Doctors believed the procedure had eliminated the cancer.
The archdiocese will announce his doctors’ evaluation of his current battle with cancer after the chemotherapy is completed.
In his Aug. 26 column for the archdiocesan paper Catholic New World, Cardinal George encouraged others to use his diagnosis as a time to “reflect upon God’s goodness and grow closer to Christ.”
He explained that he plans to say “little” about his cancer and his treatment even though it will “probably be a trying time for me in the next several months.”
Cardinal George has headed the Archdiocese of Chicago since 1997. He previously led the Diocese of Yakima, Wash. and the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore. He is a past president of the U.S. bishops’ conference and a past vicar general of the Oblates of Mary religious order.
The cardinal submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Benedict XVI upon turning 75, as required by Church law, but the Pope has not yet granted it. Cardinal George had not expected the Pope to accept his retirement for another three years.
On Aug. 24, he told reporters that the cancer diagnosis “might change the timeline a little bit” on his remaining in office.
He is the first Archbishop of Chicago to live to retirement age.
“I’m very lucky to be the first one to live with this position long enough to retire and I’m hoping to be able to do that,” the cardinal said, according to the suburban Chicago newspaper The Daily Herald.