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Irma's Unshakeable Faith in the Battle for Her Life

“Your tío Mario is getting married!”

When our mom shared this wonderful news to us three sisters, all under the age of seven, our reaction was not what she expected: we all burst into tears. We were heartbroken, and managed to blurt out, “He’s not going to love us the same way anymore! He’ll have his own kids one day and they will replace us!” That may sound strange, but this uncle had been a father-figure to us for two years while our own father paved the way for us, his three daughters and wife, to immigrate to Canada. Tío Mario was ours, and we were not happy about having to share him with a woman we had never met. My mother, bless her heart, pointed out that we would gain a new aunt who would love us, too, but at the time, we were not reassured.

Sure enough, tía Irma embraced us fully. She knew how special we were to our tío and instantly showed us that she loved us, too. (I’ll be honest, my sisters and I were secretly thrilled when they had sons and not daughters, as we could continue to be the daughters our tío never had.)

Tía Irma has a dynamic personality. She owned a kindergarten in El Salvador for more than two decades, and I can see why. She’s outgoing, friendly, excellent with children and an expert in child development. But the most powerful thing is that she’s a woman who not only loves the Word of God but carries it in her heart. This woman knows her Bible inside and out, and it’s both encouraging and challenging to be around her (in the best of ways). Every time I speak with her, I leave wanting to know my Bible better. I can see the joy, comfort and peace she has from having such an intimate relationship with Jesus—one in which she has been building for years by soaking up his Word.

But this past June, tía Irma was given another word, this one by a doctor:


A dreaded word. A feared word. An unwanted word. This word alone has terrified me for years.

Cancer took the life of my beloved tía Any, who left behind three daughters and a husband. My friend Becca’s brother was diagnosed in his 30s. This past year, three people I deeply love were diagnosed with it. Cancer.

Tía Irma has pancreatic cancer paired with another kind, and the outcome does not look good. She recently ended her three weeks of daily radiation and chemo pills. The treatment was brutally hard on her. She’s only in her 50s, and I hope that it’s not the end of her journey with us here on earth.

Photo courtesy of National Cancer Institute - @nci

I’m scared. And I’m sad. But two things are bringing me comfort.

  1. God does not leave when life gets hard. He’s with her. He’s with her sons. He’s with my precious tío Mario.

  2. She is at peace. In fact, I have never heard someone be more at peace with God’s will for her life. In her own words: “God can give me a new pancreas if he wants. But if he considers that my stay on this earth has ended, I will also understand it. He is sovereign and in control.”

I broke down in tears upon hearing of her faith. Her voice in her audio message to me was so calm and full of faith in a good God, and I was challenged in my own faith once again.

I write this with zero knowledge of how God is going to answer our prayers. I pray and hope that this has an ending our family would love and that we get more time with her, but I know that only God sees the full picture. We have absolutely no control over what he will allow.

Photo by Diana Vargas - @dvbarrantes

I share this post with three things in mind:

  1. If you’re the praying kind, could you please say a prayer for my aunt Irma, her two adult sons and my uncle?

  2. If you are also battling with cancer or have someone you love who is, feel free to share in the comments below so that I can also pray for you and your loved one. It would be an honour to support you.

  3. Wherever you are in your journey with Jesus and whatever trial you may be going through, I want you to know that he loves you. And he wants to walk alongside you. It may not turn out how you wish, but I can guarantee you that life with him is far less lonely and far more peaceful than without him. If you want to talk more about any of this, please send me an email and I would be happy to chat with you.

Photo by Diana Simumpande - @dianasimumpande

If there’s one thing you should know today, it’s that you are deeply loved, friend. And you are not alone.


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