March 26, 2017
I met Malou today, Sunday, on her way out of our church. Her face was radiant as she beamed with smile and greeted friends after the mass. "You look great," I managed to shout in the midst of the crowd that separated us in that brief encounter with her. "Yes, the Lord is good," she yelled back.
Upon getting back home, I thought of finally posting the following which had remained a draft in my bunch of unposted drafts.
Feb. 26, 2016
Third Friday of Lent, third Friday of doing the Stations of the Cross at Our Lady of Peace with the parish group. Our need to give, to share, to show the mercy that our Lord, Jesus Christ, has exhorted us to put into action all the days of our lives.
One of my Lenten offerings--sharing the statue of St. Jude Thaddeus, saint of Hopeless Cases, with Malu, a co-parishioner battling cancer. I had bought this statue in Manila during my visit there in 2010 and meant to donate it to OLP, hoping it would find a place in one corner of the church for St. Jude devotees who have been missing the huge statue in our church before the church was vandalized some dozen years or so ago. Imagine having my saint's statue for years since 2010 standing in a corner of my house, still wrapped, because I didn't have the courage to offer it to my church, thinking my pastors (previous and current) might find it too tiny in comparison with the life-sized images that adorned our church so beautifully.
Lately, however, I noticed this co-parishioner of mine wearing gauze mask I that covered her nose and mouth. I learned from the deacon's wife, that it was because she was diagnosed terminally ill, battling colon cancer. What an opportune time for me to finally be able to share this image of St. Jude and get others the chance to venerate the Saint with the 40-day novena that I resorted to some fifty years ago.
Half a century ago, I had what the doctors suspected was cancerous growth on my left jaw. I had just delivered a baby in Manila, and my husband was thousands of miles away in Iowa, United States. The lump on my jaw started as a small-size growth that slowly grew in size till it was like a ball that was beginning to plague me with pain. I finally allowed myself to undergo a biopsy procedure performed by two doctors at the San Lazaro Hospital. The doctors, or at least one of them, was supposed to be a relative of the executive assistant of the then Secretary of Health in whose office I was working as Information Officer. So. I trusted I was in good hands. While on the operating table, I heard one of the doctors saying in the dialect Pampango that he could not go deeper because the knife was not sharp enough. They just assumed I would not understand. (My family happens to come from Tarlac where Pampango is one of the dialects spoken.) The biopsy done, one of these doctors told me to return the following day, prepare blood for transfusion because if they find the cyst malignant, they would do a major surgery. With what I overheard them say in the dialect while doing the procedure on me, I must admit I lost complete confidence in their being properly equipped somehow. Still, I was alone (my husband at the University of Iowa where he was sent by the American Embassy as a Fulbright scholar), I had two babies I didn't want to leave motherless, could not afford to go to a private doctor, so what choice did I have? I had to take a chance.
When my father learned I had gone through that procedure without telling anybody in my family, he was upset. I did't want to worry anyone, least of all my family and my husband in far-away Iowa. But my father would not let me go back to the hospital without him just like when I delivered my Melissa. At that time, there was the whole family: my parents, brothers sharing in the excitement of birthing my baby. But this time, it was anxiety written all over the faces of my parents. There was reason to worry. As I was to learn later on, numerous tumor types, both benign and malignant, originate in the jaw and could turn into cancer.
It was my faith I had to fall back on. I turned to St. Jude I had heard about as the patron of hopeless cases. I went everyday to the Holy Spirit Church where a statue of St. Jude stood. Luckily, the church was just across the street from my place of work (Department of Health). What powerful intercessor was St. Jude to have raised my prayer to Mother Mary and to the Lord. The lump on my left jaw, that had grown to fist proportion for weeks, slowly subsided until completely gone on the fortieth day.
They say there's always a clinical explanation for anything we look at as miracle. But whatever the explanation was, the circumstance that brings it about I consider as miracle itself. God makes those circumstances possible; God paves the way. Were the doctors who did the biopsy wrong? Was our chance meeting with that doctor friend of my father on our way to another consultation paved by the traffic hand of God? The doctor friend prescribed a medication that induced me to get that much needed sleep I was deprived of because of caring for two babies and earning a living at the same time. Stress, lack of sleep, worries that can eat up your health. Whatever the circumstance that brought about the healing, I know was brought about by Divine Providence. I don't believe it was just my fear that prevented me from undergoing what could have been a major surgery scheduled for me. It was not just chance that my father and I met that doctor friend of his who, after feeling the growing lump, dismissed it as just a growth that must have resulted from stress and lack of sleep.
To share St. Jude as my intercessor to the miracle I had experienced is the least I can do to make known to others St. Jude. The image I have had for almost five years in my house, still wrapped since the time I had bought it from Manila in 2010 suddenly opened my eyes to start sharing the 40-day novena I prayed for St Jude's intercession during that critical stage of my life of being alone to shoulder all the burden of caring for my two babies while my husband was in Iowa. Malou was dying of colon cancer. Why not share my faith and trust in the Lord?
Malou thankfully accepted the St. Jude's image I lent her with her promise she would do the 40-day novena I copy-furnished her. After petitioning God through St. Jude for forty days, she informed me the doctor told her her cancer has been "sleeping," whatever that means. She further gave the good news that her doctor decided it best not to perform surgery on her lest "the cancer will activate and spread." Is it the intercession of St. Jude that is prolonging her life? She said she had prayed through a few other saints. But whatever it is, the fact remains that prayers have proved to be the powerful tools in reaching our Lord. And saints have proven, time and again, as succors praying for us if we call on them to intercede for us. The Lord listens, though whatever He wills, we must abide by. He knows best when to call us. In the meantime, we serve in gratefulness, humility, and love.