Being Saintly, Holy or Religious during Cancer Treatment

As a practicing Roman Catholic, I have read countless stories about saints, have prayed to saints to ask their prayerful assistance, have celebrated the feast days of saints, and always thought I had what it took to be a saint.  That’s because I was a bit of a religious snob as well.

When I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer while the doctors were on the lookout for Stage 4, my saintly thoughts went out the window.  I did not want to die and go be with the Lord, I was not very saintly, and fear was my main emotion.   But, I went through Cancer Treatment of mastectomy surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and have arrived at the other side almost a year later.  There was much suffering .  I cannot begin to explain how much, but if you are a cancer patient, you know.  If suffering is the only criteria to being a saint, cancer patients are on their way.

But my relationship with God changed.  I used to think I had some answers about God.  Suddenly, I knew I had none.  The only place I could find God was to relegate Jesus to my La-Z-Boy Recliner.   When I was so ill that all I could do was lie on my couch with barely enough strength to go to the bathroom, I found comfort in picturing Jesus sitting across from me in the La-Z-Boy Recliner.  When I would awaken terrified in the middle of the night because of some new side effect, I would glance over and picture Jesus sitting next to me just watching over me in the darkness.

When my hair was falling out because of chemo and hair would be all over my pillow, I pictured Jesus reaching over from the recliner and placing His hands on my bald head to bring me comfort and solace.  When few people understood or if insensitive things were said to me, Jesus would cry with me.

I was not able to go to church because of very low blood counts and cold and flu season.  So Jesus and I would sit together on Sunday mornings, He on the La-Z-Boy and I on my couch.

It was rare that I would be able to have conversations with Jesus.  Mostly I just felt His presence surrounding and protecting me.  I did not ask to be healed, but I felt the healing.  Eventually, I quit holding Jesus hostage as I started to feel better.  I told Him it was okay to leave for awhile and take a little break as I began to feel stronger.  He would leave for a few hours, but when it was time for me to fall asleep, I would look over and knew He was back.

One day a friend of mine told me that when she had a brain tumor, her 5 children were very young.  She said as she was healing from brain surgery, the only place she could find solace was to go sit in the car.  She would picture Jesus along side of her.  I then shared my Jesus in the La-Z-Boy story.  We both understood through our tears.

If you find your relationship with God challenging because of cancer or other reasons, if you can’t pray in your old ways, or if you have never prayed and you can’t seem to find God anywhere, I invite you to try my approach.   He likes any kind of chairs, but prefers recliners!



  1. I am a Chaplain and I have been in a battle with prostate cancer for 21/2 years. Every rosy scenario the doctors have promised has gone unfulfilled. I too have been scared and confused at times when the results I have been praying for and truly expecting have not happened. I do believe everything happens in His timing and for His purposes that we often do not understand. Thank you for an encouraging word received! God bless you! To God be all the glory!

    • Dave, thank you for writing. I am sorry for the rough road you have been on. Thank you for your encouraging words as well. It certainly teaches us all humility and what that means! Prayers go out to you! Denise

  2. Thanks Denise. Your post is quite relevant at this time as I pray Jesus is holding Timmy in his arms as I write. I’m glad your are not keeping Him busy right now because Timmy needs him. Love ya, Auntie M


    • Timmy inspired me to write this post today. He is utterly remarkable. Timmy is a courageous and amazing 7 yr old boy suffering from Klippel Trenaunay Syndrome (KTS) a very rare vascular syndrome. He is undergoing major surgery yet again. Please say a prayer for Timmy.

  3. Denise, Thank you and many blessings for doing what Jesus did for you. Your testimony is the Jesus way. He wants us to tell the world about Him. You did that so well. Jesus was there when you needed Him, just as He is for others who need Him. We just need to recognize His presence through prayer. Jesus did heal me from cancer in 1977 and I was led to a deeper faith because of His goodness. Thus, through prayer and healing I, too, am called to spread the Gospel, as we are directed at the end of Mass.

  4. I just had Jesus standing by me when the nurse was going for her 5 th needle stick for my Muga heart test. He stood there till the test was done. Through all my treatments, I just keep thinking of the unimaginable pain Jesus went through on the cross for us. I talk to him all the time. I know he is with me. His love is great!

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