Washington County judge credits power of prayer with disappearance of cancerous tumors

 

Washington County judge credits power of prayer with disappearance of cancerous tumors

Thursday, December 10, 2009

By Janice Crompton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When Washington County Common Pleas Judge Mark Mascara was diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer this summer, he was told he had a 2 percent chance of survival. His family was told he probably wouldn’t make it to spring.

But his also oncologist told him about a previous patient who went into remission after the same diagnosis, so Judge Mascara felt a ray of hope.

"At the moment that he told me that, I said to him, ‘I am going to be your second miracle,’ " said Judge Mascara, 53, of East Washington, recalling his conversation with Dr. Michael Gibson, assistant professor of oncology at the University of Pittsburgh.

From the time of his diagnosis, Judge Mascara asked family, friends and co-workers to pray for him. Within months, he said, he was told that his name was on the lips of thousands of the faithful worldwide and on hundreds of prayer chains.

"As things were moving forward, it became clear to me that it was almost out of our hands," recalled his wife, Lisa Mascara. She said repeated scans showed the cancer growing and spreading. "If he lived, it would be a miracle. I knew there would not be a medical answer here."

When caring people asked what they could do for him: Did he need dinners or rides to chemotherapy treatments? — Judge Mascara told them to ask 10 friends to pray for him, then to pass the request on to 10 more.

He blessed hypodermic needles and intravenous chemotherapy drugs with holy water given to him by his priest and others. His friends, including Washington lawyer Christopher Blackwell, brought him healing waters from places such as the village of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Others prayed fervently that God would spare him even if just for a few more months with his family.

The judge began a journal titled "courage," with words for his four children, especially his youngest, 4-year-old Sam.

Thanks to a mass e-mail request, the prayer chain members simultaneously prayed for the judge during his latest medical scan on Nov. 3.

In a development he said that even the doctors referred to as "miraculous," Judge Mascara’s scan showed his cancer had vanished.

This was the same tumor that hadn’t been responding to treatment, that actually grew 50 percent larger — to 10 centimeters — during chemotherapy treatments that were intended to help shrink the mass. The same inoperable tumor had made it nearly impossible to swallow and spread cancer through his lymph nodes and into his bones and liver.

It was totally gone, and Judge Mascara gives all the credit to God. Dr. Gibson, he said, had no medical explanation.

The physician had no comment for this article.

Instead of feeling the predictable sense of relief, Judge Mascara said when he heard the news he felt an enormous rush of peacefulness and a renewed purpose to spread the word of God.

"There was no overwhelming sense of joy, which is what I expected," he said. "Instead, this incredible peace … like nothing I have ever felt before, set in after the shock wore off.

"I also feel a responsibility to share my story, my belief in [God] and the power of prayer. I also want to make it clear I do not think the cancer will come back, but if it does, it does not negate the miracle I believe I received."

?Growing up Catholic, the son of Dolores Mascara and former county commissioner and U.S. Rep. Frank Mascara, D-Charleroi, the judge said he was a believer before being diagnosed.

His father, who is fighting his own battle with lung cancer, said he has also relied on his religion to get him through the family crisis and prays every night with his wife, a five-year breast cancer survivor.

"The love between a parent and child is a different kind of love," Congressman Mascara said. "Our kids are supposed to bury us. When you have to look that possibility in the eye, it’s devastating."

Although all signs of cancer are gone, Judge Mascara will undergo several more chemotherapy sessions as a preventative measure. He also continues to drink acai berry juice, which he believes eased chemotherapy side effects, allowing him to continue working through his treatments.

The judge is taking his debt to God seriously, and plans to speak to local church groups and follow through with requests for television interviews. He also may write a book about his faith.

The family last month invited 40 guests to their home for what they thought would be his last Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, it turned out to be a champagne celebration — one which they expect to continue into the Christmas season.

"There were so many who were so good to us," Mrs. Mascara said. "I wanted to thank those who helped and inspired us. It just lightened our load so much."

Friends like Mr. Blackwell are hoping the judge’s story will encourage more people to embrace religion.

"You can’t explain it any other way," Mr. Blackwell said. "It was a miracle. People are always questioning the existence of God. I think this was a sign."

Janice Crompton can be reached at jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 724-223-0156.

Washington County judge credits power of prayer with disappearance of cancerous tumors

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09344/1019739-58.stm

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~ by Melissa Espiritu on December 10, 2009.

One Response to “Washington County judge credits power of prayer with disappearance of cancerous tumors”

  1. Thanks to my dear friend Lynn for sending this article to us, published just two days after hearing of the diagnosis….

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