Cancer-free and Back in the Saddle


Back in the Saddle

As some of you know, I was diagnosed with cancer in November 2017.  My 10-month battle has affected my work at the shelter.  Normally, when a donation comes in, I promptly send a thank you card.  Because I have been lax in that important duty, I must begin this post by extending a huge thank you to all supporters and donors to the St. Francis Shelter.  I have not overlooked you and am eternally grateful, though a bit ashamed that I have fallen behind on these important ‘thank you’ cards.

I began an aggressive chemotherapy and radiation regime last winter, daily radiation for seven full weeks.  The treatment concluded in March this year, but I suffered from side effects into July.  I continue to improve every day.

A Tsunami of Prayer

As important as the financial donations we received are the prayers and support directed toward me.  In addition to a tremendous amount of personal prayers, I literally had monasteries, friaries, motherhouses and religious communities from coast to coast offering daily prayers for my health and recovery.  Priests said masses, friends sent medals and folks I don’t even know offered blessed cards from saints.  A religious community in the Holy Land held a special mass for me.

As of today, I humbly tell you that I am cancer free.  Although I am somewhat reluctant to say it, I avow with sincere conviction that the untold number of prayers and masses were as important to my recovery as any medical treatment.  I am a bit uncomfortable telling you I am cancer free and that prayer was an essential part of my recovery.  As I say that, I imagine other people reading this who have lost loved ones to cancer even though thousands of prayers were said, and masses offered on their behalf.  As a survivor, I am very sensitive to that issue and I have thought long and hard about it.  As sure as I know that prayer helped me, I am certain that the end result of anyone’s battle with cancer is a part of God’s master plan, and that is well beyond my comprehension.  I am truly humbled because I have watched men far better than I succumb to this terrible disease.

I can only speak from my personal experience.  Whether or not prayer had a physical effect on my cancer – and I believe it did – I can say with absolute, unmitigated certainty that prayer had a positive and uplifting effect on my spirit, my soul, and my mental attitude.  I spent many of the darkest nights of my life deep within myself, trying to hold on to my sanity, and I say with conviction that what sustained me through those dark nights was knowing that people were praying for me.

There were times when I did not believe I was going to make it.  I did not give in to the temptation to throw in the towel and give up because I believed that you believed!  God bless you all, each and every one!!!

Sad News


So, as I write this today, Saturday, September 8, 2018, I am back in full form, eating my meals and feeling good about everything.  I am reassuming my duties and obligations at the shelter.  God saved me physically, mentally and spiritually for a purpose, and I gladly assume the responsibilities he has entrusted to me.

The future looks bright.  I am excited about a possible merger with Old Pueblo Community Services, which can happen as we open the winter shelter.  Three senior staff members – Leo, Anton, and Steve – are planning to move into their own home.  Jay and his wife and baby have settled into their own home and he is still with us.

I must share a bit of sad – not bad – news.  My faithful companion of 15 too short but wonderful years has passed on.  As I was completing my treatment, my best friend, Rosie was afflicted with cancer.  I did not want the old gal to suffer, and I chose to send her home to God.  Jay tells me that in his culture, Filipinos believe that the animal can take sickness from the ones they love.  If that is true, I owe my thanks to Rosie… for a second time!

We Need Your Help

My 10-month battle has distracted me from my important duties to raise funds for the St. Francis Shelter.  I regret to report that we are well behind financially where we were a year ago as we prepare for the winter shelter.  We are in dire need of your help.  Please click this donate button if you can.

I want to remind everyone – most importantly those of you who live in Arizona – that our annual fund-raising dinner is scheduled for Saturday, December 1, 2018.  We will send invitations, but please feel free to call us anytime to make a reservation.

Earlier this year, I received the Franciscan Service Award from the provincial in California.  I do not consider it my award.  It is OUR award.  Thank you all so much for everything you do for me, the shelter and the people we serve.  As we enter our third season, please hold us in your prayers.  As one old friar, now deceased, Father Camillus Cavagnaro OFM told me as I fought my battle,

“We are all in this together.”

His words continue to echo in my mind as I realize we are all in this together.

God Bless and Keep You All…

Carl Zawatski, Director

P.S. We rely heavily on our ailing van to make pick-ups and deliveries.  As I was completing this note, the van died.  From what we can tell it blew the main rear seal on the drive shaft and dumped all the fluid out. We are told that the motor must be dropped to make the repair. Even then, the motor only has seven of eight valves in working condition and the transmission is on its final leg.   We are not convinced that it is worth repairing.  We need your help.

P.S.S.  It is unfortunately official: the van crapped out on us yesterday, Friday, September 14, 2018.  It puts us in a tight situation trying to make deliveries and pick-ups.  If you can help, we need it.

A final, note… please use the social media buttons below to share this with all your friends and associates.  We need to spread the word to enlist as many new friends of St. Francis as we can.

This entry was posted in blog. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Cancer-free and Back in the Saddle

  1. Michelle Authier says:

    Hello, Carl! Am SOOOOOOOOO happy to hear that you have made it through your valiant battle!!!
    Although I am not able to contribute financially, to your ministry to those in need, please be aware that you and yours are in my prayer each day…MY prayer and that of my community of retired Religious of Jesus and Mary, out here in Plainville, MA….
    You may have forgotten me, but I can never forget you, when I met you at the Redepmtorists’ Retreat Center in Tucson..AZ….God bless you and all who share your service and those who receive it as well….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *