Priest: What dying has taught me about living

November is National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

The insidious cancer has been in the news recently. Apple CEO Steve Jobs ultimately died from complications related to it.

Now Fr. Everett Hemann, a longtime campus priest at Iowa State University, has pancreatic cancer and has written a reflection on what it has taught him even on the eve of going home to God.

Hemann is pastor of St. Patrick Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He has been a priest in the Dubuque Archdiocese for 37 years. He loves to fly and has a commercial pilot license. He has served two terms as the president of the National Association of Priest Pilots, and continues to fly as an instructor.

Here is the beginning of his reflection published in the Des Moines Register:

"I have fatal pancreatic cancer. I am dying. You are dying as well. The difference is that my date is more imminent. That changes how I reflect on my life.

One of my earliest memories is of a neighbor losing his hand in the corn picker. It was Halloween. The thought of him with a hook on his stub arm was frightening. But what I most remember is my father delaying the harvest of our corn to organize and join other farmers in picking this neighbor's corn."

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