Just this past year my mother was diagnosed with cancer that sent a shock wave through our family. I remember vividly the night my parents called me and told me my mom needed to have some testing done. When I was leaving a Bible study that evening, I had multiple missed calls from my parents. I knew instantly something was wrong and my heart began to race. They said the doctors found a tumor on her kidney and needed to confirm whether it was cancerous.
Months before all this, my parents had planned a pilgrimage to Lourdes, Fatima and Spain for the 100 year Anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions in Fatima. A few weeks before they were scheduled to leave for their trip, my mom began a series of tests. The day my parents were on their flight to Fatima, we received the test results. My older sister received the results from the doctor and called me to confirm that the tumor on my mom’s kidney came back positive for cancer. She then proceeded to tell me the test also showed traces of cancer in my mom’s lungs. We were devastated. My mom was a thousand miles away on her flight and we had to figure out how to tell her the news when she landed.
I remember talking to my dad after they landed in Fatima and, as he choked back tears, he said, “Your mom is in the best place she could be right now, Drewe. This is a place where so much healing has occurred. We are going to pray that she is healed.” God knew that on the day our world would be flipped upside down, my parents would be in one of the most grace-filled places on earth. God was working and we had to trust that His timing was perfect. During the trip my mom was surrounded by reminders of our Lord’s faithfulness. She went to Mass every day, had priests administer the Anointing of the Sick and was able to go into the healing baths at Lourdes. We prayed she would come back healed, but we knew even if she did not receive a physical healing, she was being strengthened and healed in other ways.
While my parents were gone, my sisters and I talked about ways we could support her when she got home to keep her hope and trust in the Lord strong. I emailed over 100 religious orders asking for prayers, we had close to thirty Masses said over the course of six months, we sent out a novena to our family and friends to pray to Saint Peregrine (patron saint of cancer patients), and we packed a bag filled with Scripture verses, holy water, rosaries and prayer cards for any future hospital stays. We wanted to do whatever we could do to surround my mom with hope and grace. It is in moments like these I thank God for our Catholic faith. The Sacraments, the Saints, all the sacramentals we have, the power of prayer and intercession; what would we have in moments of suffering and uncertainty if we didn’t have our Lord and His Church to run to?
My mom did not come back physically healed from her pilgrimage, but she was healed in many other ways, and, if you were to ask her, she would say she was healed in more important ways. The other day in adoration I was reflecting on this whole journey and started crying thinking of all the ways God has carried my mom and my family through the last ten months. I think often of all the families that are in the same situation, watching their loved ones suffer or those who will receive a phone call today informing them of a diagnosis that will flip their world upside down. I pray all the time for their comfort and strength, because I know how one test can change your whole life. We need to remember how important it is to pray for each other and to pray for those who are carrying similar crosses. Interceding for each other is a powerful gift.
I am currently praying another novena to St. Peregrine for my mom, for my friend’s mother who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and for all those that are battling cancer right now. I pray for those who are in the beginning stages of this battle, those who are at the end preparing to meet our Lord, and for the souls of those who have passed on from cancer, especially my grandparents. I wanted to share part of the novena prayer because it is so powerful and so beautiful:
Pray for us, that we will not let sickness bring us to despair. Pray for us, that we may persevere in hope. Pray for us, that we will have the courage to offer up our suffering in unity with the Cross. Pray for us, that the loneliness of our suffering will be consoled. We know, St. Peregrine, that you are a powerful intercessor because your life was completely given to God. We know that in as much as you pray for our healing, you are praying even more for our salvation. A life of holiness like yours is more important than a life free of suffering and disease. Pray for our healing, but pray even more that we might come as close to Our Lord as you are.
Whatever sufferings you or your loved ones are going through right now, know Our Lord sees you, He loves you and He will be faithful to give the grace you need to walk through this and to draw near to Him. I say this with firm faith, because He has done the same for my family.
Thank you Jesus for your goodness and faithfulness. Thank you for healing us in ways that we often do not even see. St. Peregrine, pray for us.
I love you Mom! You are an inspiration to me every day.
© 2018 Drewe DeJesus
Photo from my wedding with my beautiful mother