Guest Post by Dee Sparacio
Last week, I spent hours in church. Not just the normal one-hour Sunday Mass, but the services on Thursday, Friday and Saturday known as the Easter Triduum. Attending those services gave me time to reflect on my ovarian-cancer journey and my faith.
On Thursday, I attended the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The Mass was bilingual, Spanish and English and I loved listening to my fellow parishioners singing hymns in both languages. I watched as the chrism for the Anointing of the Sick sacrament was brought to the altar by a parishioner with very little hair on her head but a look of reverence on her face. I thought of the times I received the sacrament. I was anointed with chrism before both of my cancer surgeries. Sitting in the pew on Thursday, I once again felt the grace and calm of the anointing. There might not be a scientific study to prove that grace from the sacrament calms and strengthens. What I do know is the calm and strength I felt facing my surgeries.
Friday afternoon I attended the Passion Service with my husband, Nick. We walked into church as the dark clouds and drizzle began. Was that what is was like as Jesus hung on the Cross? After reading the Passion, a group of parishioners walked a large wooden Cross to the altar. Holding it upright the group invited parishioners to come forward. Row by row parishioners- young and old and some in wheelchairs and walkers came forward and genuflected or gave the Cross a light kiss or gentle touch. The church was full so it was a long wait to get to the front of the line and revere the Cross. I expected that I would start to get antsy waiting. But not this time. The waiting was OK. I thought of times after my cancer diagnosis that I needed to wait – for my chemo to begin, to see my doctor, for my scans, the hour I lay in the PET scan machine having my test done, for the pains in my legs to stop, for my fingers to feel less numb, for my appetite to come back. Sometimes you can’t rush the process you just have to wait – patiently. And so I sat. I thought about My Uncle Bruno, my Aunt Dora, a friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and another two friends who have had their ovarian cancer recur. I felt sad and once again in church my eyes filled up. And I prayed for all of them. And I continued to wait.
I thought about my clear scan results, my future grandson, being accepted to a special cancer advocate program and the speech my son, the crew coach, gave at his crew dinner. Life can be tough- Jesus knew that but it can also be very good. So I said a prayer of thanksgiving. It was my turn. Well worth the wait! Two hours later, we quietly walked out of church.
We decided to attend the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night which meant spending even more time in church: two and a half hours to be exact. Not really a long time when you think about the time I was in treatment and was in bed due to fatigue. Two days per cycle, I never left my bed. Two times 15 cycles ( if you include my recurrence) makes 30 days. Those 30 days equal 720 hours. During those hours and many more the chemotherapy drugs were killing off the cancer cells. Two and a half hours celebrating the Easter Vigil was my spiritual medicine.
Happy Easter. Every Day is a Blessing!