Important health news about Canon Stefani Schatz

Posted on June 14, 2016

Originally posted to Canon Stefani Schatz's CaringBridge site, you can subscribe to regular updates there to keep up with her health journey with posts from Stefani and her husband, the Rev. Joseph Duggan.

Stefani speaking: Today the hospital chaplain visited (he's Church of Scotland/Presbyterian) and a beautiful spirit.  One of his questions was, "what has been nurturing you?" My response was the nurses (as you've read about again and again.) From tonight's night shift of nurses, one amazing nurse called Tracy anticipated my need for my "as requested" oral morphine which I was literally just about to ask for because she said, "we get to know our patients" ... that was wonderful and just grace. And, synchronistically, the new student nurse is named Calum which he said is a version of Columba — to whose island this whole pilgrimage started.

While we don't have any word on traveling home, health wise I have some news which I've been waiting to share until it "aged" appropriately for me and Joe.

The Eve of St Columba of Iona

Dear Friends,

In the past month, I have been made aware of the many, manyfriends Joe and I have around the world. With my family, you have supported us through the immediacy of the lung clots, through the hospitalization at my home-away-from-home at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and hopefully “soon” through travel back to home — although that is still an undefined date. The enormous cloud of prayers, thoughts, notes on Facebook, Caring Bridge, and emails has been support I could never have imagined.

I realize that Joe and I (my mom too) have been sharing quite a bit of this journey of journeys with our international circle of friends. I’ve done so because it’s my practice to share much of my life and work on social media, it’s been simpler to reach all of you at one time, and the reactions back have been so positive. I’m now going to ask for your support with another health-related journey.  Part of my admission to the GRI was the desire by the medical team to find the cause of these very large number of clots as well as the pesky fluid in my lung you’veheard so much about. My case has been part of tests and even a multi-disciplinary consultation just like any Scottish citizen.

There is a tumor in my pelvis and the diagnosis is that I have ovarian cancer. I’ve now learned that blood clots can be associated with cancer, so among the doctors this diagnosis is not unexpected, but to me it has come as quite a shock. On the other hand, ovarian cancer is one of the silent cancers among women and the blessing in having experienced the blood clots after the long flight from the US to the UK is the early diagnosis of the tumor.

What’s next? Since we learned of the cancer it was always understood that my care would happen at “home”. This includes travel back to the SF/Bay Area and my health for that travel has been the top priority and also complicated. As much as I’m ready to be out of hospital, travel will be from my hospital in Glasgow to a hospital and excellent oncologists in SF. The rest of my treatment plan and other timelines will be determined once we’re in CA.

I have noted over and over that there can be no better place for me to work at this time than the Diocese of California. Bishop Marc and Sheila provided immediate prayer and encouragement that Joe and I continue to trust in so many ways. Additionally, the bishop’s staff — my colleagues — has been super in literally making “things” happen that couldn’thave moved without them. And, knowing that “the diocese” is praying has sustained me when I could not pray myself. Together with Bishop Marc we’ll have more information on my work as soon as it’s available.

I have been consistently moved to tears with the care you’ve shown across the miles this past month. As your support has been an essential part of my good spirit and healing this past month, I expect to continue to rely on all that same love in the upcoming months. I cannot express how grateful Joe and I have been and will continue to remain to each one of you wherever you are located. It is in that frame of mind that we’ll meet this next challenge.

 We will continue to use the Caring Bridge as our main form of communication — probably not daily, but consistently. While we’re unable to respond directly back to you, Joe and I have cherished your responses. And of course we’ll always have Facebook (as I’m able). 

Thank you and peace, 


Update on Canon Stefani’s journey back to the Bay Area as of Tuesday, June 14:

Stefani speaking: It is a time for a slight optimism. We are the closest we've been yet to getting home - see below. Both Joe and I have shared about being patient and giving up control but I today I think we named the absolute hardest: being patient toward an end that is uncertain. That has been the absolute frustration of this past week! We were so focused on confirming the possibility of flying home that we almost didn't realize today/Tuesday marks the end of five weeks — tomorrow we begin six weeks. Again, we could never have made it to this date without each other, your prayers, and not knowing what was ahead. Now however I'm really ready to know what's ahead and I want to trust we're going to fly home soon... we've bought the thank you cards to write to the staff here!

Joe speaking: My day started with a complete sense of frustration, lack of progress and topped out on creative approaches to get home. I typed into my Google browser I want to go home! Google could be one path to God's heart! Unlike prayer where one needs to wait for an answer for sometimes days or longer, I had an immediate answer! Up came Johnny Cash's song I wanna go home! I took the Google result as a sign as Stefani loves Johnny Cash. So I sent her the song on YouTube and in minutes Stefani confirmed, yes that is our song and suggested I put it on Facebook. I posted our song and asked our friends to sing the song all the day long coupled with their prayers. As much as I believe in prayer, I also believe in song and humor as fashioned in me these last 15 years with Stefani! So if you are not on Facebook, sing along with us as you pray! So by the middle of the day, we felt like maybe the power of the song coupled with prayers around the world and the insistent persistence of several key people (you know who you are) at the Diocese of California, CPG, insurance provider, doctors and nurses here at RGI and more were making things happen. Sparing you the details it looks like we will fly home soon, business class with a doctor. We are still waiting for a final flight schedule, but looking good based on the messages we have seen from several sources. We reserve a little right of cautious hope until we take a selfie on the plane on take-off and another on landing in SFO!