"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose". (Romans 8,28)
In May/2013, I received a news that 520,000 Brazilians receive every year: cancer diagnosis. In my case, a type of blood cancer, called Hodgkin Lymphoma. The prognostics was good, with a big chance of cure and the initial treatment were 12 sessions of chemotherapy, one every 15 days and then 20 sessions of radiotherapy. Even though the prognosis was good, this kind of news always frightens us. I kept thinking what the good Lord and our dear Blessed Mother wanted from me: the most obvious answer was that I should suffer all that the best way I could, causing joy for the Father and offering everything to Him.
The treatment was very hard. The side effects of chemo were very strong, and before initiating the radiotherapy, the doctors discovered another type of cancer, now in my thyroid. The treatment was surgical, removing all the thyroid. There were the possibility of the need to undergo a treatment with radioactive iodine.
As I initiated the radiotherapy, the lymphoma came back, so I needed to follow a second treatment which was the self transplant of my bone marrow. I had to stay almost 3 months in the hospital, with high doses of chemo, but at the end, everything was fine, the transplant succeeded well and fortunately I fulled recovered for it.
I would like to share with you how our family dealt with all that. With everything that was happening, I wasn't the only one suffering. My whole family, especially my husband and my kids Gabriel (11 years old at that time), Nicole (8) and Matias (7) were all affected by this change in the routine. And then I had to learn how to be a mother and a wife in this situation.
The first thing that happens is to stop everything: the care for the house, children education, all the plans with apostolate. Everything had to stop so I could follow the treatment. And this was already very hard for me, because I've always been a very active person.
Then I had to find out a way to live like that, so I have realized that the strength of the Covenant of Love (a type of consecration), sealed with the Blessed Mother and the reality of having a Home Shrine where she truly established herself, were truly real. If I have sealed a Covenant of Love, I belong to the Mother and She belongs to me, then it was time to ask Her to take my place and to do what I could't do.
I remembered a lot Mrs. Catarina Kentenich, mother of Fr. Kentenich, Founder of Schoenstatt Movement, who needed to leave him in an orphanage when he was 9 years old and consecrated him to Mary, asking that She would take care of her son's education. My children were also consecrated to Mary, since my womb, and also in the day of each one's Baptism.
So, even staying in bed most of the time, I knew that my chores were being completed the best way possible, because is the Mother that was there in my place. If my son needs to study for a test, the Mother was there helping him, if I should be at a meeting, the Mother was there in my place, in the end, I was constantly asking the Mother to do what I couldn´t do now. And this brought me some tranquility.
I also had to deal with several questions from my children: "Mommy, when are you going to die?"; "Mommy I don´t want you to get bald!"; "Mommy, please don´t go to chemo tomorrow, I need you to help me with my homework." And also had the question the teacher made to Matias about his mother´s profession and he answered: "She does nothing; she only stays in bed, sick and suffering".
So, we need also to teach our children to suffer and to offer everything to the Good Lord. Actually, we all need to learn to transform our suffering in sacrifice. Sacrifice comes from Latin sacrum facere, which means to pass something to God´s sphere, in other words, make something sacred, consecrate. So, when we transform our suffering in sacrifice, we pass everything to God´s sphere, changing our pain in offerings to our dear Father and this way everything has a sense, a higher purpose.
I need to say one more thing: when we are suffering, the most we struggle to get rid of it, the more we sink in it. It´s the same as sinking in quicksand. The more you debate, the more you sink. So, what we need to do is simply take a breath and calm ourselves, accept this ordeal, this suffering "without a cause", give everything to Blessed Mother´s hand, that everything gets better. I tried and it really worked!
Now my treatment is over and thanks God I am totally cured. I´ve learned a lot and I´m a much mature person after all this, and so are my husband and children. I don´t know what the future will bring to us, but I´m sure that all will be for the greater glory of God!