Healing Powers

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    Pastor Mark West of Salem United Church of Christ in Huntingburg conducted some of his office work from the comfort of his recliner chair in the churchÕs parsonage Feb. 22. Pastor Mark was chosen to lead Salem Church beginning last September after having led a church in Ripon, Wis., for the previous 10 years. That following month, on Oct. 22, he learned that he was misdiagnosed before moving to southern Indiana, and in fact he had diffuse B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Stage 4. Six chemotherapy treatments later, Pastor Mark is in remission. He credits his own faith and the prayers and support of all those around him, especially from Salem Church, for carrying him through. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Pastor Mark made his way to the positron emission tomography, or PET, machine to be scanned Jan. 29 at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville. The results that Pastor Mark received from his doctor the following day showed no signs of cancerous activity in his body. A follow-up scan later allowed him to declare himself in remission as of May 22. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Pastor Mark pulled back his shirt to allow for the nurse at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville to clean his port in preparation for a chemotherapy treatment Jan. 30. The treatment was Pastor MarkÕs fifth of the six treatments he received. Because of Pastor MarkÕs 6-foot-9 frame and the amount of drugs needed to treat him, his infusions often took seven hours. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Between seven and 14 days after a chemotherapy treatment typically were the most difficult on Pastor Mark. On Feb. 1 he drifted to sleep while resting and reading in the parsonage. ÒI canÕt wait to get my energy back and my ability to concentrate,Ó he said. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    The members of a womenÕs Bible study group that meets at the church on Tuesday mornings and that Pastor MarkÕs wife, LuAnn, regularly attends included Pastor Mark and his battle with cancer in their prayers during his illness. On Feb. 5, the groupÕs topic was answered prayer. Coming off Pastor MarkÕs announcement to the church the prior Sunday that he was winning his battle with cancer, the women kept him and his good news in their prayers. Among those gathered were, clockwise from top left, Liz Randolph of Huntingburg, Geneva Brang of Schnellville and Norma Trent and Kathleen Hanebutt, both of Huntingburg. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Because chemotherapy treatments wiped out his immune system, making him vulnerable to sickness, Pastor Mark West could not visit church members in hospitals or nursing homes or visit hom-bound members. Other members of the church stepped in to fill those roles, including Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner who conducted a service at The Waters of Huntingburg on Jan. 21 for the residents. Spinner, a member of Salem church, had his license with the United Church of Christ in Spencer County transferred so he could conduct services in Pastor MarkÕs absence. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    In November, Pastor Mark fell just outside the parsonage, cracking his femur in two places. He said the doctor was never able to say whether the fall broke the bone or whether the bone broke and that caused him to fall. Pastor Mark worked with physical therapist Theresa Tretter of Huntingburg on Jan. 23 to help him strengthen his leg. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Minutes after hearing from his doctor that there was no longer any signs of cancerous activity in his body, Pastor Mark was hugged by his daughter, Kate Leichhardt of Louisville, when he shared his news with her Jan. 30 at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Pastor Mark fixed his tie in the parsonage before heading over to the church for Sunday services Feb. 3. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Ever since Pastor Mark broke his leg outside the parsonage, he has a different appreciation for the care needed to walk on ice. He carefully made his way back from the church to the parsonage with the help of his wife, LuAnn, following the Sunday service Feb. 3. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Pastor Mark reached over what he called his Ópreaching chairÓ to grab a piece of paper as the Sunday morning service began Feb. 2. Since Pastor Mark could not stand and preach for Sunday services, the church found him the tall wooden chair from which he could preach. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    During the Sunday church service Feb. 3, Pastor Mark announced to the congregation that his most recent scan revealed there were no signs of cancer in his body. Following the service, Pastor MarkÕs wife, LuAnn, right, received a celebratory hug from Sandi Trusty of Huntingburg. Sandi was one of many church members who assisted the Wests in various capacities throughout Pastor MarkÕs battle with cancer. One way Sandi assisted was walking the WestsÕ dog, Frodo. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    With the chemotherapy treatments wiping out Pastor MarkÕs immune system, he could not make visits to homebound members until he was through with his treatments. Pastor Mark visited Jack and Jean Powell of Huntingburg on April 23 to administer Communion. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Following the Sunday service May 5, Pastor Mark greeted members including Lee Broeker of Huntingburg as they exited the sanctuary. Pastor Mark customarily greets members at the back of church at the conclusion of services, but during his chemotherapy treatments, he could no longer greet members in such a way. Another way he limited his exposure to germs that could further weaken his immune system was trading handshakes in favor of occasional elbow bumps. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Early on in Pastor MarkÕs battle with cancer, he made it a goal to walk in the survivors lap of the Relay for Life. He had hoped to join members of his previous congregation at the Relay event in Ripon, Wis., but the distance made that not feasible. The next-best option, he said, was to carry the dozens and dozens of cards of support he received in a large, plastic shopping bag in the Relay for Life of Dubois County on May 31. As he and his wife, LuAnn, waited for the lap to begin in the Jasper Middle School gym, they looked through some of the cards to remember the notes of encouragement and support they had received. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald