When my dad was in his mid-eighties he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I saw the x-ray; not a pretty sight! The large tumor had grown around the main stem bronchus to the left lung and the arteries and veins serving that essential organ. The surgeon told us it could not be safely removed. The oncologist agreed and suggested a short course of chemo might give him a couple of years.
Dad had two treatments but because of side effects declined further chemo treatments. However, x-ray and MRI showed no tumor remained. When the doctor showed him the pictures of the clear lungs Dad, my mother, and my sister – who accompanied him – washed their faces with tears.
Noting that, the doctor said, “The trouble with the Irish is their kidneys are attached to their eyes.” Humor brought laughter and a group hug broke out.
Fr. Greg Boyle had a different take on “happy tears”. He said in his book Tattoos on the Heart, “When the heart is filled with love, it overflows through the eyes.”
I should tell you a bit more about Dad’s chemo experience. After his first treatment his blood count dropped and caused him to have a heart attack. He was give blood and there was no residual damage to his heart. After his second treatment his blood count again dropped (that’s one of the usual effects of most chemo). This time he had a mild stroke and, after some more fresh blood. made a full recovery. That’s why he oped out of more treatment.
Neither the surgeon, the oncologist, nor the internist could give a medical explanation, and if I had not seen the x-ray and the path report, I would have thought the doctors misdiagnosed his cancer.
Dad had an easy explanation. “All the family prayed for St. Peregrine to intercede with Christ and cure my cancer.” He and Mom had 33 grand kids, as many great grand kids, and 9 children all who prayed daily for his healing.
St Peregrine (c. 1260 – 1345) is an Italian saint of the Servite Order (Friar Order Servants of Mary) and the patron saint of cancer patients. His story is that he had cancer on his leg and prayed for a miraculous recovery. Jesus came to him in a dream and touched his leg. In the morning his cancer was gone.
Dad died some ten years after his cancer was cured with no signs of lung cancer. He was 94 and just wore out.
The family used some of the funeral money donated by his friends and relatives to buy a statue of St. Peregrine and had it placed in Holy Trinity Cathedral in New Ulm, Minnesota. Monsignor Richter said at his funeral that Daddy’s cancer cure was a true miracle.
No one needs to believe Dad’s cancer cure was a miracle, but we all need to heed the words of St. Matthew when he says, “You are the light of the world … let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” And may they see our hearts so filled with love that it runs out our eyes in tears and happiness.