January 9, 2015
By Catherine Walsh, Northeast Communications Specialist
This is the first in a series of profiles of sisters living with serious illness.
Sister Patricia F. was sent home from the hospital to die in early August. She had metastatic ovarian cancer compounded by bowel and stomach blockages and opted for hospice over chemotherapy and other invasive treatments. The local funeral director and three priests came to see her to help her prepare for her final journey.
But then something happened. Sister Pat had no sooner made peace with her illness and surrendered to the God with whom she has walked in Mercy for 63 years, when she began to feel better.
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Sister Pat relaxes by her “wall of love” while wearing a special feather necklace. “This feather reminds me of what it is that I strive for, to be a feather on the breath of God,” she says. Photo by Catherine Walsh/Northeast Communications.
Four weeks after she left the hospital, Sister Pat walked into her surgeon’s office for a follow-up appointment and watched him do a double-take. “He kept saying, ‘Look at you! Look at you! What’s happening with you?’” recalls Sister Pat with a laugh. “He said, ‘Even though I was born and brought up Catholic, I’m not a very good one at this point. But this looks to me like this could be divine intervention.’”
Christine, a colleague of Sister Pat’s, talks about the impact of Sister Pat’s illness on her five-year-old son.
Sister Pat’s first reaction to her newfound wellness was to celebrate her 80th birthday with friends at two elegant luncheons and a three-day trip to Ogunquit, Maine. So what if she had to eat pureed food at first and depend on others for her care? “When I first came home from the hospital, I thought it was my responsibility to prepare to die, and that’s what I did for about three weeks,” she muses. “Then when I realized that death wasn’t imminent, I decided to engage myself in living.”
Her doctor’s new instruction to her—“Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing!” —was one she took to heart. When friends offered to treat her and Sister Chris, her roommate and friend, to a trip to Bruges, Belgium, in October, she accepted and had a wonderful time. Since then, she’s tried to do one new, out-of-the-ordinary activity a month, including going to plays in Boston, Massachusetts, and New York City, New York, and going on a retreat at Mercy Center in Madison, Connecticut. Read More