If you missed the last Ultreya at St Josephs you missed an incredible witness by Pam Centilla. I asked if I could post this and she graciously said yes. The prayer is Pam’s own psalm. What a powerful example Pam is for all of us.
With a Prayer,
February 3, 2012
Hello my brothers and sisters In Christ, my name is Pam Centilli-Raiche.
I want to thank Pat Lawrie for inviting me to speak to you tonight. It is a very special honor for me. She asked me to speak to you about my cancer.
I have stage 4 cancer that has metastasized (spread) to my bones. I thank God every day for that diagnosis. I am very blessed because it has not reached any of my major organs. That is expected to come later on in this disease when God has decided my work on this earth is done.
I was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in Sept of 2009. Every test I took the results was negative, but I never gave up hope. The last test I took was to tell me if the cancer had already spread throughout my body. If it had, the doctors would make me as comfortable as possible till I passed away.
My doctor would call me that night to let me know the results of the test for that day. This night she apologized and said she could not get me the results that night. She urged me to have a couple of glasses of wine and try to sleep. I am a diabetic and could not do that. She told me to do it just this once. I thought about it after she hung up and I realized God gave me this night for thought, reflection, and prayer, not for sleep. I prayed with all my heart. I wanted to live, there was so much more I could do on earth to give back to God. At 11:00 am the next morning she called and told me the first positive news. The cancer had not entered any other parts of my body. From that point on, I knew in my heart God was not going to take me. I had chemotherapy, during which time I lost my mother and a brother in law. I know that God does not give you more than you can bear, but I was truly being tested. I flew home for my mother’s funeral after taking tests prior to surgery and after the last chemo session.
My Mother had a true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary; my mother was small in stature and had great courage. Laying her to rest gave me the strength I needed to get me through what was to come.
My sister Cindy and I would e-mail each other once a week and do a bible study. I was writing an e-mail in return to her thoughts on Psalm 18
This Psalm was a Thanksgiving Psalm from King David to his Lord. He thanked him for saving him from the clutches of his enemies and letting him win the battle. God rewarded him by making him King. This Psalm is talking to me about the biggest battle I have ever waged in my life, Cancer.
“You my God, whom I am in awe of, you are my rock, my fortress in a storm, my savior, I thank thee for saving my life so that I could proclaim your greatness and your mercy to all who will listen to me.
“As I lay in my bed, I fought the battle for my life, I was so sick from the medicines that were to cure me, I turned to you for solace. You were there for me night and day, whenever I called out to you, when I was scared to face one more challenge, you answered me and gave me the strength I needed. You gave me the courage to continue each day. You never let death gather around my door, but you took me to the depths of my soul and shattered many of the myths I had about myself and gave me new goals to try to attain while I am here on this earth. As I lay listless, no strength left to fight for my own life, you my beloved God came down from heaven to earth and you entered into my body feeling like hot lava. I felt it stream through my body each time they gave me a dose of chemotherapy, you spread like wildfire and you devoured everything deadly in your path. My body shook in pain and agony and I was lifeless as you took hold of the disease in my body and excreted it from every orifice in my body. Every last cancerous cell you expelled. When I thought I could endure no more you reached down into the depths of my shell of a body and pulled me up from that disease ridden body and breathed life into my soul for a second time. You rescued me and set me free, free from what I once was. You did this because you love me Most Beloved God not because I was deserving.
“You saw righteousness, and clean hands, where I saw sinfulness and unclean hands, I was disloyal to you and not always honest with you, sin slowly crept into my life and I did nothing to stop it. You, who see all, still thought I was worth saving and giving a second chance to be able to try harder to fight against all sin in my life and this world. I owe my life, all that I am and I all that I will be to your infinite mercy. You have stilled the darkness in my life and brought me a beautiful light. You have made me stronger and able to fight my demons and to evangelize. I now seek out the lost to give them hope and comfort and to help them to find the way back to you. I am trying to give you these gifts and sacrifices in thanksgiving for what you have given me.”
Who is this God, who has chosen to fill my body with new life? He is my rock; he gives me strength that I did not know I possessed. You make me feel young again and you sent me to Cursillo to train me to be your crusader.
Throughout my battle I never once faltered in the belief that I would live. You gave me a protective shield that allowed me to forged ahead to each new day with the knowledge that you were there at my side always, when I stumbled, you picked me up. You gave me the courage to make the decision to have a mastectomy: three weeks later, wounds not healed, I went through radiation. It was a year before I was to know if I have triumphed over cancer. I did not. I fought the battle always knowing that you were near when I needed you. All the indignities, all the pain and suffering I went through, I offered up to others who suffered. I never said “Why Me”, instead I prayed, “THY WILL BE DONE”. You have given me another day to pray, to laugh, to love, and to proclaim to all who will listen that you are the most merciful Lord God, Blessed be his name. End of Psalm 18
God still had more lessons to show me. I had been told that I would have a lumpectomy, where you have a partial part of the breast cut away. While I was going through my pre-op testing the day before my surgery, my surgeon called and said they would have to do a full mastectomy. Each time I received bad news, or bad test results I always say, “Thy Will Be Done”. This time tears streamed down my face as I whispered to myself, Thy will be done.
I had a successful mastectomy and 7 weeks of radiation. At the end of May in 2010 I was told there was no more cancer in my body. I was in remission.
I kept asking God why have you saved me; show me what you want me to do. I attended my Cursillo, went to three prayer groups and attended a Bible study that is truly amazing. I started to do some volunteer work, but it didn’t seem to be enough. I wanted to be closer to God and the Holy Spirit. I felt the Holy Spirit enter my heart while I was at Cursillo. It was the most beautiful experience I have ever had.
If there is one thing out of the many lessons that God has taught me, is that I cannot control my disease, but I can control how I react to it. I vowed never to utter the words “Why Me?” to have people treat me with pity, or feel sorry for me. Thanks to God I am strong and he uses me daily to talk about my cancer and about suffering and how good it can be for you. Of course he has given me the church, family, and friend to help me along my way. Once my cancer returned in April 20111, I realized they are more precious than all the jewels in the world.
When my oncologist told me the results of a bone scan that showed the cancer had come back she said, I wished you had brought someone with you” I told her I did, God was here with me to give me the strength I needed to accept the disease was back, the courage to tell my husband and children that there worst fears were realized and that one again our lives would be turned upside down.
This time is different, I have a chemo treatment every third week and will continue to do so until the chemo drugs no long work in my system. Many people are praying for a miracle and I thank each one of them. If it is God will it will be done. If not then God will take me home.
In the meantime I want to reach out to people who are sick, lost a loved one, and are depressed or just in need of someone to talk to. You see God has asked me to be kind and caring to those who are feeling like no one cares when they are suffering and in pain. I care and will continue to do so until my time on this earth ends. Remember pain and suffering only make you stronger and God is there by your side each and every day
Thank you for taking the time to listen to the amazing journey God has sent me on.