Heather & Kim and more – UPDATED

Got an update on Heather, the young pregnant woman who was diagnosed with cancer after learning of her pregnancy. On April 1 we learned that Heather had experienced something of a miraculous healing:

The technicians opened her mouth to position the equipment relative to the tumor. Only…this time…there was nothing there. No tumor. No cancer. Nothing anywhere on her tongue, jaw, throat, mouth…nothing. The only evidence that she ever had that cancer was a small cancerous patch on her lymphnode which the doctors expect to respond well to radiation. What’s more…well, the unborn baby grew 1.2 pounds over the last 6 days. So, all doctors are thrilled.

Our latest update:

Heather is doing MUCH better and able to eat pureed foods again! She is still doing the radiation and will complete at least the original course for the spot that remains on the one lymph node. Our current prayer focus is that she will soon be able to swallow pills so that they can remove the IV which is being used for vitamins since her food intake is still limited. Baby is growing normally and expected to go to full-term or close to full-term now.

This is a very different state of affairs than we began with, where it looked like Heather might lose half of her jaw and the baby, with the prognosis very grim for her survival. Keep praying for Heather and her baby!

Also, please keep praying for Kim and her husband, as they mourn the death of their daughter, Joy. I mentioned Kim here:

Kim is 7 months pregnant and has been told since her 18th week that her baby (they cannot tell for sure the sex) has no kidneys and will not live long beyond delivery. Like this young mother, Kim and her husband have chosen to eschew the dubious “blessing” of abortion and to instead pray, have faith, and experience the full-life gift and grief of allowing their child to meet them, of allowing themselves to know and love their child. They’re open to walking through the fire. And they’re open to a miracle, too. Openness is the key to everything.

Today I received this email from Kim:

I wanted to update you on our situation since you have been so kind as to pray and ask for prayers for us. Joy was born on April 13th, six weeks prematurely. While she only lived two hours, she had a lot of love during her brief life. Although we did not get the miracle we prayed for, we did receive many small miracles that showed us God was with us. He has further blessed us with kind hospital staff, wonderful family and friends that are helping us through this.

Kim and her husband named their little, short-lived daughter Joy!
They know the great secret – that they have assisted in Creation, worked with God in order to permit His love to enter into the world, anew, and to become part of all that is eternal, unending. They are, frankly, standing in the light.

This was undoubtedly a heart-shattering experience, joy mixed with sorry, wonder immediately followed by sadness. Joy did not have a long life, but it was the life she had, God-given and greatly loved. Her parents got to meet her, to tell her they loved her and that they would see her again. Joy was allowed to be known. Her parents were allowed to be parents, real parents who know the intense love and devastating sorrow that comes with the job.

Some see nothing good, here, only pain and loss, but clearly in this situation the value of humanity (and human dignity) were given witness, and not only by Joy and her parents but by all of the people Kim mentions, who participated in the paradox of love:

…for all the joy it brings, [love] also brings pain. Love and pain cannot exist exclusive of each other, and joy fits itself, somehow, between the two.

There is truly a Culture of Life and a Culture of Death. As we prayed in the antiphon of Vespers for this second week of Easter, “What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the spirit is spirit. Alleluia.”


Meanwhile, Little Faith, who we have met in this blog is two months old, now, and still a little fighter. Faith’s mom shares with us the news that little Seth lived for ten hours in the light of the love of his family.

I am absolutely astounded, instructed, edified and in all ways humbled in the face of faith this open, courageous and hearty. In a world where society encourages us to avoid the painful realities of life (and all the terrible beauty found therein) to shut ourselves off and remain comfortably anesthetized throughout our lives, these young women and their husbands – with the help of family, friends and faith – say “yes” to the difficult, “yes to the pain, “yes” to what comes their way.

What I see, over and over again in their stories is a peace the world cannot fathom, the “peace beyond all understanding.” As with the Gospels, where a rich young man was attracted to Christ but unwilling to give up his material things, we see here a peace many want, but few have the courage to pursue.

The headlines have very little to teach us, the sophisticates even less. If we are going to learn how to live the faith through challenging times (and yes, we’re set to be greatly challenged in America, as never before) we’re going to have to look away from “the world” and all of its bright little stars, to people like these, and these; largely unknown, unsung and engaged in “foolishness” to the world.

They know Christ Crucified, and have a great deal to teach those who are up for a lifelong course of study in that most challenging of schools, the School of Love.

Speaking of the School of Love, go here and click on “nun news” to see a young women make an ancient choice in an ancient rite, for love of Christ.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Maggie45

    Elizabeth, I’m thrilled that you will be writing for First Things. Yes, you are “(one) of the most interesting and talented writers in America”. You are one of the main influences in getting me back into full communion with the Church. Peace beyond all understanding….ah yes.

  • Mimsy

    Anchoress–First Things, first…congratulations. This is good for both of you. I see that the interesting Spengler also has joined FT. And God Bless and soothe those glorious parents and their precious babies on earth and in heaven. They really know both the joy and the intense ache of God’s creation, as did our Blessed Mother.

  • DonnaC

    We’re almost finished with Philip Yancey’s study on “Prayer, Does It Make A Difference;” and I can see so much, here, confirming what he teaches. Prayer is a very curious thing, and most of us struggle with it; but, clearly, God worked through the prayers of Kim and her husband, and probably many others as well, continuing to do so today.

    What a beautiful story of what Yancey describes as God’s “surprising” answers to prayer. Obviously, this family has not received the answers they envisioned; but could the answers they did receive bring more meaning to their lives than they could ever have imagined?

    They’re in my prayers.

  • dmd25

    My husband is an Ob/Gyn. A number of years ago when caring for a pregnant friend of ours, he realized that something was wrong with the baby. He had a good idea what it was, but sent her on to a specialist at the University for diagnosis. He warned her that if the diagnosis was as he feared, they would probably encourage her to have an abortion. This was a friend whom we were quite sure would not want that. The diagnosis was a chromosomal defect not compatible with life. Indeed, the doctors recommended an abortion. Our friends told the doctor that they wanted to have every moment with this baby alive that they could and would not consider ending her life. The baby died a few months later, shortly before her due date. The family had a lovely funeral.

    I have always remembered this and felt that though difficult, this was an incredibly healthy response. I know that my friends are at peace with this decision.

    We don’t like hard things. Abortion seems like the easy way out for many, but instead, I believe is the much more difficult way to go.

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