Where faith meets cancer

About half of those with cancer face a religious struggle; a patient, order chaplain and grieving mom reveal how cancer reshaped their views

Nestled in a wheelchair, mind Juan Perez wore a red blanket and a serene expression. He was nearing the famous sanctuary in Lourdes, site France — the place, many faithful believe, where spontaneous cures happen.

“I was thinking,” he said, “of a miracle.”

Perez has synovial sarcoma, a soft-tissue malignancy that began near his heart. He’s undergone surgery, chemo, radiation and immunotherapy at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), clinical partner of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. With standard treatment, most patients with that disease survive 12 to 16 months.

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