Sr Lilianne McGraw from New Brunswick, Canada, shares with us how her experience of having been a cancer patient filled her with gratitude for the precious gift of life.
In January 2017, I had to put my commitments on hold following a cancer diagnosis. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma had been sapping my energy for quite some time. Unaware of my condition, I had continued my pastoral activities despite my diminishing energy.
The thunder bolt
Then the verdict was pronounced! Aggressive stage 3b lymphoma. At my first meeting with the oncologist, my spontaneous expression was “Whether I live… or I die…” For me: a time of uncertainty in the days to come…!
However, a light bursts forth after he assures me that he is able to cure this aggressive form of cancer and to put to sleep the slow form. So with courage, I began the 6 series of chemotherapy treatments from January to May, and for two following years thereafter, the maintenance treatments every 3 months. It’s amazing how the human body can handle all that without leaving too many serious consequences!
A new lease on life
In the fall of 2017, filled with gratitude and the desire to pursue my pastoral involvements, I was able to resume the commitments left on hold.
Today I still go to the oncology department every 5 or 6 months for follow-ups… and everything is fine. Thank God!
A new look on life
I believe that such ordeals bring changes to one’s personal life. Isn’t it a way of living the paschal mystery? A new outlook on life now helps me appreciate much more what is given to us so freely. Life in all its forms is a gift to be acknowledged and respected. One must be thankful and grateful.
I now discover more meaning in all that happens. The signs of God’s presence are more palpable. During the oncology appointments, I could perceive a healing ministry at work. The Acts of the General Chapter 2016, page 11, express this very well when we are called: “to recognize the active presence of God there where we least expected it.” To listen more attentively to what is happening helps me to better discover the signs of His active presence in the smallest of gestures.
Give to the next
Such wonderful testimonials were manifested by the staff: heartfelt attentiveness, kindness, deep concern, and a compassionate gaze towards all vulnerable people.
These images remain deep within me. They invite me to continue along this path of humanity and humanization. Give to others what you so freely received!
Sr Lilianne McGraw dj
Moncton New Brunswick, Canada