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Fr John Flader: Mrs Peterson’s conversion

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When her Catholic friend Queenie Yu heard she was sick, she went to visit Tammy in the Toronto General Hospital and gave her a rosary blessed by the pope and an image of Our Lady and Jesus in Chinese dress. IMAGE: WIKICOMMONS

It is true, and here are the facts. In 2019 Tammy, who had been baptised a Protestant, was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of kidney cancer which is 100 per cent fatal. The normal expected lifespan is about ten months. No one has survived it.

Tammy’s mother’s family all died young from cancer and other causes, and she accepted that this was her destiny, and she was prepared to accept whatever happened.

When she told her son that she was dying and saw the grief in his eyes, she realised that she didn’t hold her own life as precious as he did, and she felt filled with God’s love for the first time in her life.

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She decided to use whatever time remained to love her family and friends more.

She was operated on successfully to remove the cancer, but afterward fluid began leaking out of her lymph nodes, filling up her body. She had a bag to collect it, but it was extremely uncomfortable.

When her Catholic friend Queenie Yu heard she was sick, she went to visit Tammy in the Toronto General Hospital and gave her a rosary blessed by the pope and an image of Our Lady and Jesus in Chinese dress.

Tammy already had the rosary of her Polish great-grandmother, but she didn’t know how to use it.

Queenie taught her the prayers and the mysteries and they prayed it together every day for the next five weeks in the hospital. During this time they grew closer together, and Tammy ceased to worry about the future.

Jordan explains that Tammy’s situation was like that of Job in the Old Testament, where someone has great suffering through no apparent fault of their own. If the person becomes bitter and resentful, the suffering is only made worse.

Tammy didn’t do that, but rather accepted her pain with great grace. She didn’t pray for a cure but rather that she would accept whatever came her way.

Jordan explains that Queenie was very helpful in three ways: as a conduit to the Catholic faith, as a friend, and as someone who taught Tammy to pray.

As a result, Tammy got better in accepting her condition and she learned to value herself more, as one values someone else they love.

The surgeons in Toronto were unable to find the cause of the leaking fluid but they told Tammy about a doctor in Philadelphia who could help her. Before she left, Queenie arranged for her to meet a priest of Opus Dei, who gave her a blessing and a scapular.

He also gave her a nine-day novena of prayers to St Josemaria Escrivá for the sick and taught her how to pray it, telling her to focus on gratitude.

On her first day in Philadelphia, the first day of the novena, the surgeon did a procedure but he was unable to find the leak. He decided to do another operation, to open Tammy up another day, which would be the fifth.

He told her they would need to do a fat test, so on the fourth day Tammy ate an egg, which has fat in it. When the surgeon came the following day, he checked the bag of fluid and discovered, to his surprise, that the fluid was clear. Her body had processed the fat.

The doctors ran some more tests and then told her she had been cured. Within a half hour she was out of the hospital.

In June of 2019, although she knew she was not going to get better any time soon, Tammy had told Jordan that she would be better on their 30th wedding anniversary, and this was that very day, 19 August.

Tammy says that the most important thing for her has been saying the rosary every morning, with intentions for the various mysteries. It prepares her for whatever God has in store for her that day.

Her new-found faith has also given her courage to do things she would not have done before, like go on stage before thousands of people to introduce Jordan’s talks.

She prepares what she is going to say, prays about it and then gets up without any notes. She has a podcast in which she helps young women find their true identity in a challenging world.
Tammy will be received into the Catholic Church and will be confirmed at Easter 2024. Let us pray that, if it be God’s will, her husband Jordan will follow her one day.

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