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Amanda Woodiel shares the story of a moment of divine consolation she experienced while waiting to learn whether her teenage son has cancer.

I wrote last month about discovering that our 14-year-old son had a tumor, a tumor which the doctors at our children’s hospital suspect is cancer. It was found on June 17 at a routine physical. We were as blindsided as if we had been hit by a bus. 

A friend organized a corporate novena with other parishioners at our church. It was the surrender novena, and I still find it to be one of the most comforting and powerful novenas I have ever personally prayed. “Oh Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.” 

Jack underwent the surgery and, although he has an incision larger than the width of my hand, was discharged from the hospital four hours after it was finished. For the three-hour ride back to our house, he was horribly nauseated from the anesthesia—that is, until the pain overtook the nausea. He writhed and moaned all during that long, dark trip home. 

I helped my six-foot-tall child into the house and into bed. I then sat for a while to pray. Out of a place of emptiness and sorrow, I cried out. “Lord,” I said, “I have surrendered. I have accepted that this possibly—even probably—is cancer. But we have literally hundreds of people praying for this child. Could you not at least honor those prayers by helping with the nausea and the pain?” 

An answer came into my head for a fleeting moment. “I am saving his life.” 




I considered it for a moment. Well, maybe, I thought. And went to bed. 

The next day a friend of mine related a story in which someone she knew was in a bad car accident. When the medical personnel scanned her neck to see if there was any spinal injury, they found a tumor, which ended up being malignant. They removed it, and she never had a recurrence. “That car accident ended up being such a blessing,” she finished. 

It saved her life, I thought. 

I’ve come to believe that the thought I had that evening was truly a consolation, an answer to my prayer. However, I also know from experience that sometimes the way I interpret what God reveals to me is not the actual meaning. I’ve pondered this phrase “I am saving his life” and have come up with four interpretations, knowing it’s also possible that none of these are correct. 


#1: “I am saving his life” means “I am saving his physical life.”

This, of course, is what I hope for. It means that, although this journey has been difficult, it is the work of divine providence to save his physical life before the tumor overtook him.


#2: “I am saving his life” means “I am saving his eternal life.”

This has no promise attached to saving his physical life. I have always prayed that if my children were to die in a state of mortal sin that the Lord would mercifully take them early. I have had to wrestle with the implications of that prayer. This could be what the Lord is doing: saving his eternal life.


#3: “I am saving his life” means “I am saving the life of his faith.”

Perhaps this struggle is necessary to deepen my son’s faith for the years that lie ahead. Perhaps without it he would have left the faith.


#4: “I am saving his life” means “I am saving someone else’s life through this.”

Perhaps this is a cross given to my son in order to save the life of someone else. Maybe my other son’s faith is strengthened through this ordeal. Maybe someone outside of our family who is praying for us now knows to check for “lumps and bumps” in the groin area and will find a tumor before it is too late for him.


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I know that this is a work of salvation, no matter what it seems like on the outside. #catholicmom


I don’t know which one Our Lord meant when He spoke to my heart that night. Maybe it’s another interpretation entirely. But I do know that this is a work of salvation, no matter what it seems like on the outside. Just as the Cross of Jesus Christ looked like death and instead brought forth new life for mankind, I believe that this cross of my son’s will bring forth life by the grace and power of a good and loving God.



Amanda learned shortly before this article was to be published that Jack does, indeed, have cancer. He is scheduled for another surgery on September 8. The Catholic Mom community is praying for Jack through the intercession of Venerable Patrick Peyton. Please join us!

God, our Father, your wisdom is displayed in all creation and the power of your grace is revealed in the lives of holy people, who inspire us to trust you more fully and to serve others more generously.

In a unique way, you blessed the life and work of your servant Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., and made him a fervent apostle of Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary and Mother of us all.

Through his intercession, we ask for this favor: healing for Jack.

Please grant it, if it is for your honor and glory, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.


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Copyright 2022 Amanda Woodiel
Images: Canva