A Testimony on Suffering

Jesus Christ has ennobled and divinized suffering

in his own person.

Since his death, human suffering

ennobled and divinized by him,

ennobles and divinizes

those who make good use of it.

Maxim of Love 5:3
Jean-Pierre Medaille, SJ

Sharing our stories...

I suddenly became seriously ill during the spring of 2010. Within a short time I was examined at the Hospital Emergency and received a CAT scan. When I received a diagnosis, I overheard the doctors at the hospital emergency expressing shock in viewing the CAT scan results with the words, “We never saw such a huge brain tumor.” They were truly amazed at what they saw on the scan. When the head doctor in Emerg disclosed the reality to me, suddenly, as I heard the verdict that I had a brain tumor, it seemed like I was surrounded by a sacred presence.


In essence, the brain tumor turned out to be benign and I needed to be monitored by MRI in the future. Mid-summer I had an appointment with the neurologist at the Neurology Department. Through the computer I was shown slides of my brain tumor and informed it was impossible for me to have an operation as the brain tumor was attached to my brain - unbelievable. At that time I had no choice but to live with a huge benign brain tumor.


Through the summer and into the fall, strangely I felt very ill. I was let go from work as I had difficulty processing, even walking, and sometimes I would have mini strokes …problems speaking and comprehending everyday life in communication. I had difficulty walking due to poor balance. Some people noticed that looking at my mouth which showed being crooked, indicating that I had another stroke/mini seizure. So many people were deeply concerned for me. Inevitably, one doctor at a walk-in clinic highly advised me to return to the hospital emergency. The doctors on call observed that I had recently had a stroke. The neurology department was contacted but there was no response to help me or even what to do. As a result, I was referred to the Urgent Neurology Clinic. All in all the doctors who examined me were completely perplexed with my situation. An EEG was scheduled for me.


Surprisingly, I was fast going downhill and many of my friends, people in healthcare, simply stated that I required hospitalization. I was totally frustrated. So on a Saturday, I phoned my son in Calgary to please come down to London as I was ill. He immediately said “Yes.”   Hence, he travelled on the red eye flight and arrived at 6:00 a.m. London. Upon his arrival he took a taxi to the Hospital Emergency.

The day before, friends and neighbours in my community observed me so an ambulance was called. As I was being transported to the hospital, the paramedics took my vitals and communicated with the Emergency Hospital staff. A bed was ready in Emerg when I arrived. It was like a miracle for this happening. I received examination and various tests were performed. I was quite surprised when one neurologist kept stating, “You will be alright Elizabeth.” Actually my brain tumour had grown immensely and I suffered a stroke on the left side of my body much to everyone’s amazement especially in neurology dept. My son spent many hours at the hospital with me.


One member of my Small Faith Group at St. Peter’s Cathedral requested a priest to anoint me with the prayers for the sick. To this day, I can still recall Father saying the Prayers of the Church. I was anointed with the holy oil – at that moment, I experienced a sacred touch of heaven (God) just like an arrow went through my body. We were invited to pray the Our Father. I was overcome with tears streaming down my face.


A series of tests were given to me. The neurologists and surgeons gathered and studied all the test results in preparation for the six hour operation. On that day, my hospital bed was rolled into the operating room. It was like being located in an underground. I was wide-eyed at what I saw. Members of the operating team came to my side greatly reassuring me that everything will go well. I spotted one doctor at one computer who was studying the file of my brain tumor test results. There were several doctors present during the operation. I was informed that when my head was open to perform the brain tumour surgery that all the neurologists/surgeons were shocked at what they saw. During the six hour surgery, members of my Small Faith Community Prayer Group were praying for me. After the surgery the surgeon told my son that the tumor was removed and some may remain.


The next day after the surgery I had the use of the left side of my body and my speech was clear when I spoke. The brain tumor was examined and this revealed that the original brain tumor was from breast cancer which had matatized into a brain tumor. Further diagnosis revealed that I had several tumors from my neck to the organ areas. All in all I had bone cancer too. During my recovery, my son stayed with me for seven weeks. The doctors showed him how to help me in my rehabilitation. My brain tumor was located on the right side of my head – the place of my short-term memory (the place of processing in my brain. Since the operation I have had to relearn many tasks which has been a major challenge. My son stated, “Mom you are rewiring your brain." Thing was I asked God, “Why am I alive? What is your dream for me?

Jesus Christ has ennobled and divinized suffering
in his own person.
Since his death, human suffering ennobled and divinized by him,
ennobles and divinizes those who make good use of it.


Throughout the years, many times whenever I experienced difficulties i.e. workplace and also challenges along my life journey in the midst of our rapid and demanding fast changing world, I would pray to be united with Jesus in the struggle. In particular, with the recent diagnoses of my three cancers – brain tumor, breast cancer and bone cancer. I sought consolation in the way of prayer.


Before I was discharged from the hospital, I was told that I would not be able to live alone and look after myself. The words of Jean-Pierre Medaille above, “Jesus Christ has ennobled and divinized suffering in his own person... and I too could make good use of this suffering.” I include here that I received numerous negative statements.  One experience I received was upon my first visit with the cancer oncologist, she frankly told me that “Not all cancer is treatable. What do you think of this?” My response was, “I believe in possibilities.” A few months later at the Cancer Clinic, whenever the cancer oncologist saw me, she looked intently at me and smiled and remarked, “Elizabeth, you always look great. You are doing so well.”


In essence, with all my health experiences, this part of the Maxim of Love kept haunting me and inspiring me to reach for this ultimate union with God:

human suffering ennobled and divinized by him,
ennobles and divinizes those who make good use of it.
These past four years have transformed me as I abandoned myself to Jesus – entrusting my entire being to God, particularly in my encounters with doctors, nurses, occupational therapist and physiotherapist. (Including my angel friends)

Upon reflection, I consider myself a walking miracle. I am inspired by cancer patients with their stories along with the drivers who volunteer for the Cancer Clinic. When I wake up each day, I am grateful for the gift of a new day. Whenever I am at the Cancer Clinic, my heart reaches to each person in prayer. I remain deeply grateful to all prayers by many people for my healing and path to recovery.

                                                                                                       Betty Mellon
London, ON.


#1 arletteh 2014-02-25 11:02
Oh, Betty, how can I thank you for this loving sharing! What faith and courage in such dark, dark times. Thank you for the step-by-step telling of your story. It gives such hope and courage to me who am going journeying with my husband through dementia and resultant health challenges of my own.Arlette

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