It has been exactly three years since my cancer miracle took place during the 2013 "Year of Faith" when Pope Francis began his papacy honoring Holy Mother Mary with prayers and a bouquet of roses. I feel inspired to share my Marian experience with others who may need gifts of grace with renewed faith, hope and love. I completely understand skepticism of miracles but sometimes it can be the only rational explanation. I respect and love people of all religions or no religion. But coming upon this personal anniversary at a time when there is much pain and despair in the world inspires the need for added physical and spiritual strength. I feel compelled to bear witness to the loving healing power of Jesus Christ and offer gratitude for the many graces received by Him through devotion to Holy Mother Mary.
The month of August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Just as the Holy Mother of Jesus intervened for the first miracle her Son performed at "The Wedding at Cana" recorded in the Gospel According to John (2:1-11), our family has received many graces from God by requesting her prayers and gifts of sacramentals including her miraculous medal, rosary and scapulars. Beautiful inexplicable accounts of miracles have happened by asking Mary, "Our Lady of Grace" to be "on the case." It seems evident that God uses her to unite us. Mary is a good Jewish Mother, first Christian and beloved in Islam and other faith traditions.
Kiwi Story First
My 25-year-old brother Kiwi was in a devastating car accident on July 19, 2008. During the following days the doctors in Bakersfield told us he was "brain-dead," so without permission they removed his life support and pushed for his organs to be donated. He was in a deep coma and not moving. Providentially, Father Ralph from St. Francis of Assisi Church baptized him. We then placed a holy relic of Mother Teresa on Kiwi and we all prayed to her to jointly intercede with the Immaculate Heart of Mary to ask Jesus to help Kiwi, according to God's Will. Kiwi instantly responded, the pupil in his eye came back, he moved his leg and then he breathed on his own. This startled his skeptical doctors and made them realize that "faith and science" are a team, but faith comes first. Kiwi survived and to this day he continues to improve, illustrating "where there is life, there is always hope" and "where there is hope with faith and prayers, there is always love and life." Please remember Kiwi in your kind prayers.
Five years later to the exact same date, on July 19, 2013, I received frantic messages from my Persian-Jewish gynecologist at UCLA. As she was arriving at the airport to leave for Italy, I returned her call while leaving my office. She spoke in a consoling voice telling me that the result of the biopsy she took was read that day by several pathologists and it was very bad so I needed to have major surgery by an oncologist surgeon as soon as possible. She would return in a week and would help in the operating room and we would see where we go from there. She already secured an appointment for me to meet the surgeon at UCLA early Monday morning. We hung up, I took a deep breath and said a mental prayer. I remember how surprised yet how calm I felt as I got off the freeway on my way home. First I stopped at St. Michael The Archangel Orthodox Chapel where I lit a candle and prayed at the Sacred Icon of Holy Mother Mary. I placed my prayer intention on the altar. Next stopping at the Pauline Bookstore Chapel, I sat in contemplation and deep prayer with The Blessed Sacrament. Afterwards, I went home and put a "green scapular" around my neck saying the prayer inscribed on it, "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen." From the moment I heard the scary news I said that prayer repeatedly. I remember how much deep peace I felt immediately. I was in the Holy Mother's reassuring hands, placing my heart in her Immaculate Heart and my sick womb in her pure womb. I informed my husband of the news and then spent the weekend in quiet prayer of the rosary and I went to Mass to receive the Holy Eucharist.
Monday morning, I was gently led into the surgeon's private office, where his assistant sat with her head bowed down and softly said to me, "I am so sorry for your sad news." I comforted her and pulled my "green scapular" out of my blouse and smiled responding, "Thank you for your kind concern but do not be troubled for I have given everything to Our Lady of Grace, the Holy Mother Mary and her Immaculate Heart. Whatever her Son desires, I support." The oncologist came in wearing his scrubs and casually sat on the credenza behind the desk and blurted out, "How did you get this problem? You do not fit the profile." I smiled and said, "Guess am supposed to have it for some reason, yet to be revealed." I told the good doctor what I had informed his assistant of my total surrender and consecration to Our Lord through Holy Mother Mary and he said, "You must be Catholic." I said, "I am." And he said, "So is my wife." And then he went on to share his recent experience visiting Rome and Assisi with her and how he was inspired by it and was given a rosary by his mother-in law. I said, "I will pray the rosary to Our Lady of Grace and I give my health entirely to God, the Divine Physician. I will let you do what you need to do for me with your God-given talent as a surgeon."
He sent me to do all my pre-op with my wonderful primary-care Indian Sikh doctor who ordered a ct- scan. The two health professionals performing the test were cheerful when they greeted me, but hung their heads low after they took the pictures telling me sheepishly "good luck." The results indicated a "mass" was present, and not the Catholic Mass which brings life. I told my dear primary-care doctor what I told the other doctors, "I am in Our Lord's hands and Holy Mother Mary's Immaculate Heart." He said with a smile, "Keep the faith." I told him, "Do not be troubled, I will keep the faith."
Throughout this entire process, I felt as light as a feather, being lifted from one doctor's office or lab or hospital to the next, always feeling joyful and at peace. I was not on any drugs nor drink. I could feel Our Lady of Grace was "on the case." I spent every day in "Adoration" with The Blessed Sacrament, saying the rosary and receiving Holy Eucharist at daily Mass and repeating the efficacious prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I asked that Holy Mother Mary intercede to her Son, desiring only that God's Will be done, not mine unless it was His Will. I received the powerful Sacrament of the Sick trusting in Jesus.
"You Have Had a Miracle"
To make a long story a bit shorter, my surgery was scheduled by the doctors for Tuesday August 6, 2013, the feast-day of "The Transfiguration of Our Lord." The perfect day for me to be "transfigured," figuratively and literally. To illustrate God's goodness and sense of humor: on July 31st, the Wednesday before surgery, the oncologist surgeon did an ultrasound to determine the current growth of the "mass." He kept looking and looking, moving the baton while watching the screen, but could not find it. He finally said "the mass is gone." I responded curiously, "So why are you taking everything out then?" He informed me because the biopsy result is very clear, all must be removed and through a lymph node procedure they can determine whether it has spread.
When I got home I was inspired to call his nurse and ask that the biopsy be reviewed. After all, I thought, if the ct-scan changed maybe the biopsy did too. She said they have already reviewed the biopsy twice including by the head pathologist and it is the same result, but she asked if I wanted a third review. Given the inexplicable change in the ct-scan and that three has a special significance, I said "Sure let's see what The Father, Son and Holy Spirit-the Holy Trinity will say of the results this time."
On Friday morning the doctor's office notified me that the results were determined to be the same so surgery was definite for Tuesday. Then at 5:30 that same evening I received a call from the surgeon personally telling me the surgery was off. That it was an inexplicable mystery, in 30 years at UCLA never had he or the pathology department seen a biopsy change like mine did. The next day, on Saturday morning, my gynecologist called me and her words were more theological in nature. She excitedly exclaimed, "You have had a miracle!" She then informed me that UCLA was abuzz with the inexplicable change which took place in my biopsy and ct-scan. Transfigured, so to speak. God does have a wonderful sense of humor as He pours out infinite graces when we trust Him.
On the day I was scheduled to have surgery instead I delivered a batch of rosaries, miraculous medals and green scapulars to the surgeon's office as gifts from Holy Mother Mary with the message do not be troubled-she won't put you out of business. She will simply bring graces and patience to your patients. The assistant who had been gloomy smiled and happily accepted the maternal gifts of grace.
I give total credit to God alone for everything good in my life, in our family and in our work. But I am also grateful for the help emanating from going to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as both Mother Teresa and Pope Francis encourage us to do. Most importantly during these harrowing times in life, I discovered that the greatest gift of grace is to experience a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Holy Mother Mary together with The Holy Spirit helps make that happen. This and other grace-filled life experiences inspire me to help those who are sick and dying.
For anyone reading this who desires to receive sacramental gifts of grace including the green scapular, the miraculous medal and a rosary, please provide your contact info in the comment section. I will happily send you a heavenly gift of Holy Mother Mary's "care package," with the infinite love of Jesus.
And to sweet skeptics, it can't hurt! God bless you.
Brothers and Sisters, Alleluia. Amen.