Daughter: Televangelist Schuller has cancer

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (AP) — Crystal Cathedral founder and former televangelist the Rev. Robert H. Schuller has been diagnosed with cancer, his daughter said Thursday.

Carol Schuller Milner told The Associated Press that Schuller, 86, has a fist-sized tumor in his esophagus that has spread to his lymph nodes. Schuller’s oncologists said the tumor was either at or near stage 4 — the most serious cancer classification — but it has yet to reach his vital organs and he has been strong enough for treatment.

Milner said her father “doesn’t have a lot of energy” but has been “very reflective, very peaceful and truly beautiful.”

“He’s closer to heaven than he is to this tangible world,” Milner said.

Another daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, first revealed news that Schuller was undergoing treatment in an Aug. 25 sermon at her new church, the Hope Center of Christ.

The elder Schuller decided to pursue the treatment after praying with his wife, Arvella, and other family members, Schuller Coleman said. Doctors said the televangelist had three months to live, but then said he could live for two years with radiation and chemotherapy.

Schuller began preaching in 1955 from the top of a drive-in movie theater concession stand in Orange County and by 1970 had launched a TV ministry with the “Hour of Power.” He built the landmark cathedral in 1980.

At its peak, the broadcast attracted 20 million viewers around the world but in recent years, Schuller’s ministry was hamstrung by a disastrous leadership transition and a decline in viewership and donations. The once-popular televangelist resigned from the church’s board in 2012, two years after the ministry filed for bankruptcy.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange bought the cathedral in bankruptcy proceedings and renamed the building Christ Cathedral.

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