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By His Wounds, We Are Healed
U. S. A. | NEWS | NEWS
Cancer survivor James Littleton shares his story of survival and spiritual growth through adversity in his new book

The Littleton Family
The Littleton Familly

No pain, no gain.

This simple adage aptly describes the life philosophy of one man who has seen more of life’s crosses, and, consequently, blessings (as he would say) than most people in a lifetime.

James Littleton, husband and father of nineteen children (five in Heaven), cancer survivor, and a businessman who has experienced both loss and success, has many stories to tell.  Along with his wife, Kathleen, they have been sharing those stories with faith-filled and experiential wisdom.  The two authored a book published in 2007, Better by the Dozen, Plus Two: Anecdotes and a Philosophy of Life from a Family of Sixteen (Lulu Publications, 2007.)  Those who enjoyed this offering can soon obtain the next installment -- Kathleen is writing a sequel expected to be available in about six months.  (Stay tuned to the RC website for future details…)

The newest book from the Littleton library is Jim’s Healed Through Cancer and other Adversities.  In the book, he shares the details of his recent bout with and subsequent healing from stage 4 chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  Click here to see a YouTube video about the book. (For the RC website story about Jim’s battle, click here.)

Following is an interview with the author, which he answered mostly with excerpts from his new book.

You talk a little in your prologue about the “kick” God gave you to finally start writing the book.  Can you tell us that story?

(Excerpted from Healed Through Cancer and other Adversities)

I co-authored with my wife, Kathleen, a previous book, published in 2007, Better by the Dozen, Plus Two: Anecdotes and a Philosophy of Life from a Family of Sixteen, when I was, or thought I was, in good health—though I suspect this disease may have been with me for years prior to diagnosis. We wrote about the cross, but little did we know that a new cross was in store for us in a few years.

I had procrastinated writing a second book for a bit, but God put it in my heart to get moving. I received encouragement from others including Kathleen. I had been accumulating some random notes with ideas, but I had not gotten down to the hard work of writing in a systematic way. Then in August 2010 Kathleen and I were at Northwestern Hospital in the waiting area prior to my treatment when a man approached us. He commented on the St. Benedict Crucifix and the pin of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mary, Mother of God) I was wearing and on the fact that
James Littleton
James Littleton
I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours. There is a great practical advantage of wearing outward signs of faith, as they open doors to conversations with strangers. It turned out this was Fr. Michael, a Dominican priest. After we had a pleasant conversation, I gave him my business card. He called me the next day sharing that he was moved to call. Knowing that I had previously written a book, he said that I should write a book about my experience with cancer, giving hope and fortitude to others. He had hit on exactly what I was already planning but had been dragging my feet on.

Sometimes God needs to give us a little kick to get us going with the mission to complete His plan of love for which He is counting on us. I took this as a prompting from God to get started. Fr. Michael said that he would be praying and fasting for me. It is interesting that I received a flood of inspirations for this book the next day, which I attribute to Fr. Michael’s intercession.

Please give us an update on your current health as of today.

(Excerpted from the Epilogue of Healed Through Cancer and other Adversities.)

Thanks be to God as of July 2, 1012 my health is exceptional. I am cancer free and living full and joyfully without any physical restrictions. As a matter of fact I walked and jogged a 5K race with my family just two days ago. After learning my place in the race I was consoled by Jesus’s words, “Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.” (Matthew 20:16, JB) But what a joy to just participate!

Diary excerpt – Nov. 1, 2011 - If I remain cancer free at the three year mark following the bone marrow transplant date I will be considered cured completely.

 I was also told that 98% of the cells in the bone marrow are now from the donor, which is as good as it gets.

I do want to profoundly thank and credit Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen as the primary intercessor in heaven through the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Jesus for my healing, as I and many others prayed to him for my healing from the beginning of my illness. He is at work in heaven helping us, even more so than when he lived his remarkably fruitful life on earth.

I have heard you quote the first letter of Peter “By His Wounds, We are Healed.” (1Peter: 2:24) describing your battle against cancer. Can you give us a little overview of the ways your struggle has “healed” you? 

In more ways than I can count, but I address about 25 different ways in detail as indicated by the Chapter titles, as follows:

Healing through God, But Does He Exist?

Healing through Poverty

Healing through Darkness

Healing for Soul and Spirit

Healing in Body

Healing in Mind

Healing through Trust and Surrender

Healing As Regards Family and Friends

Healing As Regards Others

Healing through Accepting God’s Ways

Healing in the Gift of Life

Healing through Humility

Healing through Mercy and Forgiveness

Healing in Accepting Myself

Healing in Accepting Others

Healing from Oppression and Fear

Healing through the Breath of Prayer

Healing through a New Language

Healing by the Bread of Life

Healing through Death

Healing through Redemption and Resurrection

Healing through Pouring

Healing through a Sense of Humor

Healing through Our Mother, Mary, Leading to the Word

Healing Scripture Passages 

You speak strongly about the value of “crosses” in life.  Why?

(Excerpted from Healed Through Cancer and other Adversities.)

Why the cross? Why suffering? Why pain? Certainly there is some mystery involved. But we can be sure that the cross is purifying and redemptive both for us and others. The old adage applies: No pain, no gain.

It is best to embrace God’s will, which is perfect and always working toward our good. What we can be certain about in reference to His will is that the moment we have before us now is beyond doubt encompassed in His will. We must use each moment well, live life to the full joyfully, have mercy on others and on ourselves, love and serve others at every opportunity. God help me to live this better!

How do you hope your new book will help others?

(Excerpted from Healed through Cancer and other Adversities.)

Anything good and helpful in this book is from the Holy Spirit.  Anything poorly done or prideful is from me, and I am sure there is much. I have tried to write what I believe God wanted me to write. I hope the reader comes away with some helpful insights, encouragement, increased hope, faith, and fortitude, as well as some useful resolutions. I am sure the Holy Spirit has something singular and profound to say to each individual reader.

Click here to read some endorsements about the book:

We celebrated Father’s Day last month.  It would appear that Fatherhood is not valued in our culture as in the past, but you take your responsibility in this area very seriously, it seems.  Why?

(Excerpted from Healed Through Cancer and other Adversities.)

The father of a family is indispensable. He leads and serves. He is the head of the family, but in the sense that he is the head to the degree that he serves and sacrifices. He is the living, active image of Christ on the cross to his wife and children. “Husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy.” (Ephesians 5:25–26, JB)

And a special word for men, since I am one of you. Our wives and children need us. We are irreplaceable. Let’s be the noble knights God wants us to be and stick with our wives no matter what, and that means no exceptions. God made us inherently warriors of a sort. Just watch young boys playing, how they will quite naturally turn sticks into pretend guns or swords. We should channel the fight that is in us to love, sacrifice for, and protect our wives through thick and thin. It is God to whom we made a vow when we became united in matrimony with our wives. “So then, what God has united, man must not divide.” (Mark 10:9–10, JB)

Children need their fathers on numerous levels. For one, he has the God-appointed mission of being the spiritual and moral leader of his family. “Happy are all who fear the LORD,/ who walk in the ways of God./ What your hands provide you will enjoy;/ you will be happy and prosper:/ Like a fruitful vine/ your wife within your home,/ Like olive plants/ your children around your table./ Just so will they be blessed/ who fear the LORD.” (Psalm 128:1–4)

There are many sacrifices a good father offers for his family, such as working hard to provide for them, giving of his time to be with them, doing yard work, you name it. There is something more that must be done, however. He can offer all of his sacrifices—and in the case of having cancer he can offer that up to God—through prayer to be made one with the sacrifice, suffering, and death of Jesus for the spiritual and corporal good of his family. This is a noble thing.

Wives are called to be the heart of their families and to never give up. When a heart stops beating the body dies. When the wife/mom is not present, loving, and serving the family, the body of the family becomes decimated.

(Jim offers his list of the “four greatest gifts parents can give to their children:”)

First of the greatest gifts is to pass on the gift of faith in God, leading by example, including the unswerving practice of one’s faith and religion. The second greatest gift is a secure, enduring, happy marriage between father and mother. The third greatest gift is something children ask for often. The gift is unique, and can never be repeated, but a similar gift can be added approximately every year. Yes, the profound gift is that of another child. The fourth greatest gift is that of the parents, to the best of their ability, and at the cost of sacrificing many things, being present to and loving their children. No money, gifts, sports, or activities will ever be able to substitute for our loving presence with our children.

Humility seems to be a virtue you have strongly cultivated in your life, through God’s grace.  Would you say that is true, and why is that virtue so important?

(Excerpted from Healed Through Cancer and other Adversities.)

To borrow a quip from Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: "If I were to tell you that I had reached St Bernard’s ´twelfth step of humility´ then I am sure I would be very proud of myself."

“The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11–12)  Here we see again that God’s ways are not naturally our ways. We are called to be servants or slaves to others.

Humility is truth, the truth of who we are, including the good and bad. The truth is that we are beloved children of God, each of us, no one excluded. This is assured. The truth is also that God is God, and we are not. He is our creator and savior, and He is all knowing.

In constant battle with the virtue of humility is the ego or self. We have a tendency of being self-centered. I have found through experience that the best means of achieving humility is through humiliations and the cross, especially those that God arranges for us, which tend to cut the deepest into the hidden regions of our being where the ego hides. Humility is a key virtue. Other virtues are difficult if not impossible to acquire without a meaningful measure of humility.

If our cup is full of our ego and pride, then there is no room for God to fill it. If, with God’s help, we empty our cup of self, then there is room for God to fill our cup with Himself and His virtues of faith, hope, love/charity, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. “And from pride preserve your servant, never let it dominate me.” (Psalm 19:13)



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