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Bishop Wester returns to diocese after cancer surgery

Published: Friday, May 15 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Bishop Wester

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Five weeks after undergoing prostate cancer surgery, the Most Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, is easing back into his regular work routine.

"It was no picnic," quipped Bishop Wester on Thursday of the April 8 surgery and recovery.

A slight elevation of PSA levels was noted during a routine physical exam earlier this year, followed by the discovery of a small malignancy on the prostate gland.

Performed by Dr. Blake Johnson at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center, the robotics surgery used to remove the prostate gland was less intrusive and allowed for a faster recovery period, Bishop Wester said.

The early detection and subsequent surgery meant no radiation or chemotherapy treatments were needed.

Following the surgery, the 58-year-old Bishop Wester spent the first two weeks convalescing in Salt Lake City and the next two-plus weeks in his native San Francisco with his mother.

Flying back to Salt Lake City on Wednesday morning, he spent the day at the diocese and then attended an awards banquet later that evening, being honored by the Sutherland Institute for his work in building bridges in Utah's faith communities.

"You get chomping at the bit," said Bishop Wester of wanting to return to work during his recovery period but understanding he was not well to withstand the daily rigors. Instead, he spent his time resting, taking walks, reading "and a lot of prayer."

With a smile and a twinkle in his eye, Bishop Wester also confessed "I disobeyed" and "I cheated" on doctor-mandated instructions during recovery — inadvertently disobeying a ban on heavy lifting when he hefted a large metal can while cleaning out a fireplace his first day home. He also fudged against directives to avoid office work by using his laptop and the Internet to check e-mail and interact with diocese personnel.

Bishop Wester is in his third year in Utah, appointed in January 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI as the ninth bishop to serve the Diocese of Salt Lake City and installed two months later.

E-MAIL: taylor@desnews.com

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