A WOMAN hopped from one table to another to embrace friends and exchange pleasantries with guests. She was animatedly conversing with them, calling on one of her daughters from time to time to take a photo for a memento, all in between bites of lunch.
Unknown to the restaurant’s servers and a few of the guests, the woman who was grabbing everyone’s attention once stayed in her bed, terribly ill, and ready to die.
Cecille Paschner is a 51-year-old retired publisher. Her life used to revolve around the pursuit of money so she could provide a comfortable future for her family.
At her prime 25 years ago, Paschner was the publisher of several local magazines.
The mother of three migrated to the US. But the move strained what was left of her faith.
“I had no relationship with God because in the US, you have to work in order to survive. Life there as a single mom is expensive,” Paschner said.
It was in March 2013 when doctors found a 29-centimeter malignant tumor in her right breast. She was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer.
Refusing chemo and radiation therapy, Cecille packed her bags to return to Cebu, steadfast on not dying in a “stranger’s land.”
“I took it as a preparation. Well, if I’m going to die, then so be it. I had the tumor surgically removed. But the cancer entered metastasis in November 2015, reaching my liver and lower back bones. I was immobile for a while. The oncology doctor graded it as stage four,” she said.
It was during this low point in her life that Paschner reconnected with the Lord, attending daily masses and revisiting the blessed sacraments.
Although it was her career as a publisher that took her astray from God, she is now using her skills and talent to help spread the word of the Lord.
Wanting to encourage others, Paschner published a prayer book and decided to change the connotation of cancer into something “positive.”
“Cancer is a scary word. But if you put Christ in it, you can do all things,” she added.
For Paschner, cancer stands for Christ, Adoration, Novena, Confession, Eucharist and Rosary.
“My daily medication was the Eucharist. I never believed in the rosary before, but I have been finding myself sleeping better with the rosary in my hands. Cancer is a very painful journey, but I don’t take any pain medication because I have the rosary,” she said.
Last March 24, Paschner’s oncologist told her that she was cancer-free.
In thanksgiving, she is giving away copies of her prayer book.