Evangelist Billy Graham, scheduled to give a brief message and the closing prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Thursday, announced today he will be unable to participate this year, due to his recovery from an elective outpatient procedure and additional health complications of his wife, Ruth.
Billy Graham, 81, and Ruth, 79, are both under care of their respective doctors following recent medical procedures. Last Thursday, while at the Mayo Clinic where he was undergoing treatment and therapy for Parkinson's disease, Mr. Graham had a CAT scan, which revealed a large sinus polyp. He then had elective outpatient surgery by an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist to remove the mass, which had caused obstruction and pain. Subsequent histological sectioning showed the polyp to be benign.
Mayo doctors are encouraged by Mr. Graham's recovery, but have advised him to restrict travel and speaking engagements for the next few weeks to avoid any complications. Though he has experienced some weakening and loss of balance this winter, Mr. Graham's Parkinson's condition, for which he has been treated for nearly a decade, remains stable.
Ruth Graham has been hospitalized several times over the past year for severe back and hip pain. She remains a patient at Mission St. Joseph's Health System in Asheville, N.C., following hip replacement surgery last week, her third in 20 years. Her problems began in 1979, when she sustained an injury following a fall from a tree while building a swing for her grandchildren. She continues to rest and recuperate under heavy medication for pain.
Mr. Graham participated in the first National Prayer Breakfast (then Presidential Prayer Breakfast) with President Eisenhower in 1953. He has participated in nearly every one since, with very few exceptions (such as during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, when he went to spend Christmas with the troops). "I feel my responsibility this year is to focus my prayers and concerns on my wife," he said.
For more Billy Graham news, see the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Web site.
Copyright © 2000 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.