Cancer Survivor Finding Peace at St Mary’s Place by the Sea

(POTJS Note: I am doing a series this week on Mary’s Place by the Sea, Ocean Grove. It is a respite home for women who are being treated with cancer. Since 2009, when they first opened their doors, almost 8,000 women with cancer have become guests. Thanks to ongoing donations, there is no cost to the guests who stay. The stories this week are based on interviews I conducted over the weekend.)

“In March of 2016, I was diagnosed with glioblastoma, which there is no cure for. But so far I am doing really well. I do have my dark days sometimes. This is not the life I had planned for myself. In the back of my mind, with glioblastoma, it is not if the tumor will return, it is when it will return. I try to stay positive with so many good things happening in my life. I have a big support system, my husband of 37 years has been tremendously supportive. And my daughter is expecting our first grandchild, my son just recently got married, and all of this in the last year. I have so much to live for in my life, and I pray every day that God will not let me die, so my kids will not have to be sad. I am not sad for me, I am sad for my family. I just keep positive as best as I can. God has been very good to me. He has a bigger plan for me still, I know it.

“I believe a part of his plan for me is to be a mender of broken relationships with friends and family. Like the friend I lost touch with because we had hurt each other. She flew up from Myrtle Beach this weekend and visited with me. We just cried and laughed the entire time we were together. Or mending strained relationships I had with some of my family. I just let the grievances go. When you get a diagnosis like this, the little things that used to annoy you don’t matter anymore. Now with everyone worried about me, everyone is coming together. We had 25 people over for Thanksgiving, and no one argued. That is my purpose in life, to bring healing to people.

“But I still have my days when I don’t want to get out of bed. It can be really hard sometimes, and I can get scared. When I heard about Mary’s Place by the Sea, I wasn’t sure about it at first. I was hesitant, and was like, ‘Do I want to go to a place where everyone else is suffering too? Is it going to be depressing?’ But when I got there, it all felt so peaceful, almost surreal. There was so much serenity there, and it was so amazing. There were seven of us in our group, all different ages, all different backgrounds, but everyone was in such a positive state of mind. It was all so uplifting. And everyone who works here is so caring.

It is so nice for women to have this because we are always so busy taking care of everyone else – our kids, our husbands, our parents, and a woman never gets a chance just to take care of herself. This place allowed us to do that. They offer so many wonderful programs, from a meditation class, to a full body massage, which I hadn’t had since I don’t know when, and individual counseling. I needed all of this. We would sit around the fireplace and laugh and talk, and all had such a nice connection with each other. It is such a wonderful place.

“I have always been a happy person, but I am even happier now in life than I thought was possible. Every day is truly a precious gift. Every single day. I am very blessed.”

(POTJS Note: If anyone would like to know more, please visit their website: https://www.marysplacebythesea.org/missionandhistory)

 — in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

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