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Bishop Steinbock talks about being diagnosed with cancer

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bishop John Steinbock announced last month he had been diagnosed with cancer ... we have since learned it's stage three lung cancer. Action News anchor Liz Harrison was able to sit down with the bishop Wednesday for an exclusive interview ... his first since his diagnosis. The 73-year-old bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fresno was his usual upbeat self during the interview, but was also realistic about what his future may hold.

With 86 parishes all over central California ... Bishop John Steinbock puts 35-thousand miles a year on his car. He was ready to begin a vacation at the end of July when he decided to go to the doctor because he had begun wheezing at night. The doctor detected a mass in his right lung.

The bishop says he didn't have any particular reaction to the doctor's words ... but after pondering his situation for a few days ... he began to believe his cancer was a gift.

Bishop Steinbock said, "I started thinking ... there's a lot of blessing, too ... having cancer. That may sound awful. I mean, first of all, so many people reached out to me. Expressing their concern and their prayers for me ... you don't realize how many lives you've touched until something like this happens."

The bishop began chemotherapy treatments three weeks ago. He continues to work and has even managed to play a few holes of golf.

Steinbock said, "The doctor said, 'how did you do after the first week?' (I'm gonna have the second chemo shot) I said, 'Actually, I'm really going to enjoy this because I played nine holes of golf yesterday and I played better golf than I have in the last five years!'"

The bishop's schedule may soon begin to slow down. In addition to chemotherapy ... he begins radiation this week. The doctors have told him that not only will he feel weaker ... but his treatments will weaken his immune system and he will not be able to be around crowds of people. He says leaning on others will be his greatest challenge.

"I know I'm going to become weaker and more dependent on other people ... that's a difficult thing. The knowledge you're not in control, you can't take care of yourself and it takes a lot of humility to let other people serve you, you know. I can see that coming ... it's gonna take a lot of humility on my part." Steinbock said.

The doctors are hoping the chemotherapy and radiation will help shrink the tumor enough that they will be able to operate. The bishop will be 75 in July of 2012 and has plans to submit a letter to the Vatican at that time regarding his retirement.

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