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Family 'surprised' by Robert Schuller cancer treatment prognosis

The family of Robert H. Schuller was "surprised" by the diagnosis that treatment for life-threatening cancer could give the famed evangelist another two more years, according to the church headed by his daughter.

The 89-year-old has a growth in his esophagus and was initially told he had three months to live, said his daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, who first shared the news with worshipers during a sermon in late August.

In follow-up exams, an oncologist advised Schuller that although the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, he was "a good candidate for chemotherapy and radiation treatment that could extend his life," according to an online update on the Hope Center of Christ's website, the church headed by Schuller Coleman.

Schuller, the author of 37 books, likes to keep fit, his family said, but fell in the middle of the night in July while at his home in Orange and was hospitalized for more than a week.

When physicians first speculated that Schuller might have only months to life, his family accepted the diagnosis as "inevitable," according to the Hope Center website. Later, they were "surprised" by the oncologist who believed he was strong enough to undergo treatment.

Schuller, once one of America's most prominent evangelical preachers, rose to fame as the founder of the Crystal Cathedral and the face and voice of its "Hour of Power" television program.

Schuller's ministry was launched in 1955 and stemmed from the Reformed Church in America. His upbeat religious messages eventually reached a global audience, thanks to the weekly TV broadcasts which, at their peak, attracted more than 20 million viewers worldwide.

The towering glass-paned cathedral that he and his supporters built was dedicated in 1980. More than three decades later, Schuller resigned from the church's board in 2012 after the organization filed for bankruptcy.

In 2012, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange bought the church property; it operates it as the Christ Cathedral campus.

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anh.do@latimes.com

Twitter: @newsterrier

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