Berlin Tew

I thank and praise God for gracing me with the courage to share with you the wonders He, our Divine Physician, has done for me.

In 2004, I experienced very bad constipation and also started losing weight at an alarming rate. The doctor ordered an urgent scope to be carried out. I was not a Catholic but God had already started caring for and loving me. He had prepared me to receive the bad news calmly and with peace in my heart. When I met my doctor to receive the results of my biopsy, I did not ask if I had cancer. I simply asked, “What stage is it?”

And so, in March 2004, I was diagnosed with 3rd stage cancer of the rectum and was operated on that month.  I had to undergo chemo for three months and 28 sessions of radiation.  I had to wear a colostomy bag for half a year. My weight plunged from 48 kg to 37 kg. I was in and out of hospital for very bad diarrhoea due to the side effects of the chemo treatments.  I lost a lot of potassium and sodium through the diarrhoea and had to be put on drips. Although I did not know God then, I saw God working through my oncologist, a Christian. He advised me to stop the treatment because I was losing too much weight.

I was a non-Christian but God reached out to me through my eldest brother and sister-in-law, who are Catholics. They brought me a statue of Mother Mary, a Rosary and a prayer card for Intercession by St Jude.  My sister-in-law taught me how to pray the Rosary and I started praying devoutly for our dear Mother’s intercession. I also started attending the devotion to our Mother Mary at Novena Church on Saturdays. I was blessed with the loving support of my family members and siblings. On hindsight, I realised that though I was not a Catholic, God loved me through the people who journeyed with me as I battled my illness. I was able to pull through because I drew strength from their love and support.

During a CT Scan, my doctor discovered a tumour on my left pelvic. The cancer had spread to my lymph nodes on my left pelvic. I had to rely on painkillers to stop the excruciating pain on my left leg.  In my suffering, I persisted in my prayers to God, asking Him to be with me and to alleviate my pain. My third sister-in-law who was nursing me often prayed the Rosary with me. I want to thank God for gracing her with care and love for me. I prayed especially to St. Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer patients. I also sought the intercession of St Jude, the patron saint of hopeless cases, and most certainly, I continued imploring Mother Mary for her maternal care and protection while bearing the pain.

One night, I had a dream. I vividly saw three figures standing beside my left pelvic where the tumour was. They seemed to be praying for me. Were they Mother Mary, St Peregrine and St Jude ministering to me? Was Jesus among them?  I may not be sure who they were, but I knew their heavenly presence had brought about my miraculous healing: When I went for the next CT Scan, the tumour had disappeared and of course, the pain was gone too! I was so relieved and knew for sure that I was healed through divine intervention. All praise and thanks to our great God!

I am forever grateful to Mother Mary, St Jude and St Peregrine for their intercession. Mother Mary brought me closer to Jesus.  Finally, I was baptised in Dec 2005. And by God’s grace, in 2008 my husband was also baptised. Praise The Lord!

On my last check-up in January 2010, my doctor confirmed that the cancer is in remission. God has healed me.  I thank and Praise the Lord!

Through my illness, I had come to know God. I realised that He not only wants to heal me physically, He wants to touch me spiritually as well. I attended CER 3 and was very moved by the love of God through the brothers and sisters serving atCSC. I was hesitant to attend the Retreat at first because I had to be cautious about my diet due to my illness. However, a sister here atCSCgave me the assurance that my special needs would be taken care of.  So I attended the Retreat. True enough, that sister arranged to share the same room with me so that she could look out for me. A few sisters atCSCtook turns to serve me filtered water and I even got a special cushion for my seat as I couldn’t sit too long due to the side effect of radiation. My husband cooked my meals at home and delivered them to me. I felt truly blessed as God had surrounded me with His great love through people around me. Moved by God’s love, I committed to serve at the Media Ministry after the Retreat and have been with it for about five years. When I joined a Cell Group two years ago, I felt God’s calling for a closer walk with Him through a deeper prayer life. Through my daily prayers, I could feel Him journeying alongside me each day.

While at prayer, He revealed to me that He has prepared for me a ‘fertile land’. He further revealed that where my heart is, there shall be the ‘fertile land’. I certainly know where my heart is… Cancer patients are a group of people close to my heart and I know that God wants me to make use of my personal struggles to reach out to them and bring them hope in Him. God has made use of a seemingly unfortunate illness in my life to reach out to cancer sufferers so that His Light may shine forth. I can empathise fully with cancer sufferers because I had been one myself. During my difficult journey, God had sent me companions to help lighten my burden. Now I want to do the same for others!

I have since joined Cancer Support Group to pray and lend support and encouragement to cancer survivors and their caregivers. I am able to share my first-hand account of my battle with cancer and how I have overcome it. During my difficult moments struggling with the illness, God had sent an angel, a Catholic, to journey with me, giving me motivation and support, and my faith in God has increased. This ‘angel’ and I have since become great friends. Now it is my turn to be an angel to others. Together with my friend, I have been journeying with other cancer sufferers, bringing them God’s peace and compassion. As I think back, I can now clearly see God’s wise plans in my life. My illness was indeed a blessing in disguise. Through it, I can reach out to others and bring God’s love into their hearts.

God’s mercy and love for me is beyond description.  It is by His Grace that I am still here to testify that He not only healed me physically but spiritually.  His love and Word sustain me and give me peace and joy.  I cling on to His Word in Proverbs 17:22: A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.  I praise and thank God for giving me a cheerful heart and a new lease of life.  Alleluai!

Berlin Tew
CER 3