Cancer patient caregiver sees faith as way forward during illness

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Flor de Maria Pun de Rivera.

A volunteer who has spent 19 years helping cancer patients at a hospital in Lima believes that faith in God is the way out of any difficult situation, “much more so in the case of an illness like cancer.”

Flor de Maria Pun de Rivera, the president of a corps of 500 women who volunteer to care for cancer patients, spoke with EWTN News on July 4, as the group marked 25 years of service. 

“Faith in God is very important, it is the backbone of each person for moving forward in any situation, much more so in the case of an illness such as cancer, and that is what we have tried to convey to each patient in all these years of service,” the head of the Alliance of Support for the National Institute of Cancerous Diseases said.

Rivera said that many people diagnosed with cancer “feel abandoned, and the first thing they ask is, ‘Why me?’”

“That’s where we try to help them see that cancer is not a condemnation, there is a solution. On the one hand, doctors do their part, the patient has do to his as well, but faith does a lot to help the patient bear his illness and move forward.”

Recalling Blessed John Paul II, who bore Alzheimer’s disease with great strength and spoke often of the Rosary as his favorite prayer to draw close to the Virgin Mary, Rivera underscored the importance of the Mother of God “for our faith and for our patients.”

Our Lady is the way to helping the sick overcome the difficult situation they are enduring, she said.

Rivera reflected on how serving cancer patients is very satisfying but is also “not an easy” job, since they have many emotional and personal needs. She encouraged the family members of those suffering from cancer to give them hope and faith.

“A cancer patient is a special person, they need to be given enthusiasm, hope, strength and faith, and it is very important that this work be done by family members, apart from what the doctors do. This illness affects not only those who suffer from it, but also the entire family, which needs to come together to give them that hope that everything will be okay and that they are in God’s hands,” Rivera said.

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