Skip to comments.Mother chooses life of child over cancer treatment (tissue alert!)
Posted on 07/24/2009 1:44:40 PM PDT by NYer
.- Though Mayra Sandoval died of cancer on July 8, her son Samuel is alive and healthy thanks to her insistence on choosing life, against the advice of doctors who urged her to abort. Now, Mayras husband and friends remember her as a powerful witness to the immeasurable value of life.
In an interview with the Denver Catholic Register, Mayras husband, Ricardo Flores, recalled the battle of faith and trust that the couple underwent in the months leading up to her death.
Both Ricardo and Mayra were born in Mexico. They moved to U.S., where they met three years ago, began to date, and eventually moved in together. At the time, neither had a strong faith, but they were nevertheless overjoyed when, in October 2008, Mayra became pregnant.
Months later, doctors detected a cancerous tumor in Mayras lungs that was already in an advanced stage and was still continuing to grow. Mayra was advised to abort the baby on the spot, so that she could start a treatment to halt the cancer growth.
But Ricardo and Mayra chose life. Although it was difficult, Ricardo said he never had any second thoughts in the decision to choose life. When the option of abortion was presented, "We always said no. We couldnt do that," he explained. "God gave life and God takes it away."
"And we can trust in God and let His will be done," he continued, explaining the peace that the couple found in abandoning themselves to the Lords will. "We can accept whatever God sends us, good or bad."
While Mayras cancer continued to take its toll, the couple was beginning to learn more about their faith. Mayras sister, Aida, recalled the couples spiritual journey. She described how God had not always played a prominent role in her sisters life. "She believed, but like many Catholics, did not know her faith," she said.
The road was difficult, but Ricardo and Mayra were not alone. They received prayerful support and solidarity from the Catholic community, including prayer groups from St. Anthony of Padua and St. Josephs parish.
Particularly memorable for Ricardo was the loving presence of Fr. John Gregory, who helped the couple through their struggle. "He was always close to us," he said, "teaching us, helping us, supporting us, strengthening us, speaking to us about God, of all that God had done for us."
The sickness brought many trials, but also moments of light and hope. One time, the couple passed by St. Josephs Church as they were on their way to the hospital. Mayra was experiencing sharp pains and having difficulty breathing, but she asked to stop at the Church.
"Without thinking about it, we got out and as we entered we saw the image of the Divine Mercy and she started to cry right there," Ricardo said, noting Mayras devotion to the image of Divine Mercy.
They stayed at the Church praying for about two hours, first alone and then with members of a prayer group who arrived and offered to pray with them. Mayras pain soon disappeared.
"As we went home, we were reflecting on all that had happened: we were going to the hospital but ended up in the Church," Ricardo said. "That was another incredible thing that consoled us and brought us peace. Again we realized that we werent alone."
Six and a half months into the pregnancy, Mayra began chemotherapy. About six weeks later, however, doctors determined that the treatments were not working, and they had to perform an immediate caesarean section.
The operation involved a high risk of death for both Mayra and her son. It was an intense day of prayers and trust, Father John Gregory explained, and it affected even the hospital workers. "The nurses said, This the first time we have seen something so strong, the blending of life and death."
Mayra survived the C-section, and Samuel was born, healthy for a premature baby. After a few weeks, the family was able to go home, but Mayras condition continued to decline, until she had to return to the hospital, where the pain could be controlled.
Despite radiation therapy, the cancer overtook Mayras body and eventually, she was unable to eat or even breathe on her own.
On June 21, while she was in the hospital, Mayra and Ricardo were married. As they had grown in their faith and received guidance from Fr. John Gregory, they had come to see the meaning of marriage.
"We got married in a room in the hospital. It was beautiful," Ricardo said. "Afterwards, we felt peaceful, in Gods grace. We also did it for Samuel, so that he could also receive Gods blessing of having his parents married."
As her condition grew worse, Mayras family prepared for the end of her earthly life. Aida described the beauty that shone through the pain of her sisters last days on earth. "At the end, I saw her like Christ, with so many wounds and bruises on her arms and her side," she said.
Those who knew Mayra will remember her beautiful witness to life. Fr. John Gregory described the opportunity to accompany Mayra along this difficult journey as "an incredible path of faith" for his own life.
"[T]his experience has given me more strength to preach what death really is, because she gave me a witness of a new birth," he said. "It has given me more enthusiasm and helped me to understand that I have to explain that the true death is sin, not physical death."
Ricardo said that Mayras sickness and death taught him about the existence and love of God. "Through all this, God made me know that He exists, that He is with us," he said.
Ricardo wants to give back to the Catholic community that has and continues to support him. But for now, his primary focus is his new son, whom he wants to raise and educate in Gods love. "Now I have to look after Samuel, and tell him that his mommy gave her life for him," he said.
Although coping with Mayras death is still difficult, Ricardo finds strength in the Lord as he moves forward. "Now Im at peace," he said. "I have hope and continue trusting in God. It has changed my life."
God welcomes the soul of that brave, brave woman into his fold.
Very powerful. Thank you for the post!
Now, that is how it is done.
This is a story of a very courageous, moral woman, who chose love of her son over selfishness.
I am sure God is smiling on her now and showering her with his love.
In the early 90s we had a presvytera who became pregnant while battling a sort of bone cancer. The pregnancy was a miracle. She of course immediately went off the treatments and some months later delivered a healthy baby boy. The cancer in the meantime had exploded all through her and she died about 3 months after the birth. Her son is now about 18, a fine young man and the pride and joy and comfort of his father, our former parish priest.
A mother’s love is a wonder!
As is a mother's sacrifice.
I need to take my monitor back to the store.
For some reason it’s all blurry after I read this.
She sounds like she was never fearful, knowing at all times God was with her. Eternal rest to this woman!
God bless this little boy and his father.
What a beautiful real life story. Thank you.
God bless her!
We used to call this “heroic virtue.”
I hope she will pray for me.
“She sounds like she was never fearful, knowing at all times God was with her.”
There are some things in the Bible that are literally true. It was quite a surprise (to me) to learn that one of those is, “Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...”
My child and I are here today because a priest helped my great-grandmother choose the life of her child (my grandfather) over her own life during a difficult birth. Thank you, sainted Grandmother.
A dear friends daughter had to make the same choice.
Fortunately her delaying chemo didn’t cost her life.
Mom and baby both doing well.