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Jessica Hanna, Catholic Mother Who Chose Life Amid Cancer Battle, Dies

Posted on April 12, 2024 in: News

Jessica Hanna, Catholic Mother Who Chose Life Amid Cancer Battle, Dies

Jessica Hanna, a Catholic mother of four and pro-life advocate who chose to forgo cancer treatments for the sake of her unborn child, died on April 6, her family has announced.

Her husband, Lamar, shared the news of her passing on her Instagram account, where she went by the handle @blessed_by_cancer. 

“At 8:02 p.m. on Saturday, April 6, my beautiful bride Jessica peacefully went to her eternal reward,” Lamar Hanna wrote. “She received extreme unction and the apostolic pardon from Father Canon Sharpe [on] Thursday. On Saturday she was very peaceful, and surrounded by her loving family, she breathed her last. The cancer was just too aggressive. She suffered joyfully and without fear in her last days. Please keep our family in your prayers.”

In 2022, Hanna joined “EWTN Pro-Life Weekly” to share her pro-life testimony. Two years before, while 14 weeks pregnant with her youngest son, Thomas, she received a breast cancer diagnosis. Several doctors advised her to have an abortion, but she declined.

After undergoing surgery, she was told the tumor was 13 centimeters, while cancer was also found in 43 lymph nodes in the area. Due to her pregnancy, doctors could not scan the rest of the body to see if the cancer had spread.

A devout Catholic, Hanna turned to her faith for support during the trial. She had a special devotion to Blessed Father Solanus Casey. During her battle with breast cancer while pregnant, she prayed at Casey’s Detroit-area tomb after each chemotherapy treatment. 

After she gave birth, her scans came back clear, with no signs that her cancer had spread to any other organs or lymph nodes, which she attributed to the intercession of Casey. However, in 2022, the cancer returned, this time as stage 4. 

Social media created community of faith around cancer battle

At the time of her diagnosis, Hanna had felt God was calling her to something. Unsure of her own future, she made a social media account two days after her diagnosis to share her journey with others and create a prayer community where she could pray with her followers and offer up her suffering for their intentions. 

“I thought no suffering should ever go to waste,” Hanna told “EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.” “I don’t know where God is taking me. Is he going to take me to the path where I need to show people how to die gracefully, with his grace and mercy? Or is he going to show a miracle?”

“I decided to use the social media to show people that no matter what you think is going to happen, it’s trust in God that is the most important … That you are going to abandon your own desires and wants and you’re going to leave it at the foot of the cross and let him take care of it.”

Over the years, Hanna’s Instagram account grew to more than 45,000 followers. It was here that she shared updates on her health, prayed for others who reached out to her with intentions, and showed her followers what it means to offer up your sufferings and suffer graciously. 

On March 29 she wrote: “I’m here, in my Good Friday. During this Lent I have experienced emergency heart issues resulting in a drain and then surgery around the heart. I went from the ICU to the regular floor with more surgery on my lung and many other complications.”

“The difference between [my Good Friday] and that of Jesus’ is that I indeed deserve my time here walking to Calvary and he certainly did not,” she wrote. “In fact, it was my sins that led to many of his excruciating pains. For myself, my suffering is an offering given back to him not only to atone for the crimes I committed in my life but also to cooperate with the body of Christ to offer atonement for others as well.” 

“If I was bold enough to commit such crimes of sin in my life, I should also be bold enough to accept my penance,” she wrote. 

“However, be sure to remember — with every Good Friday comes an Easter Sunday,” she pointed out. “With death comes resurrection — Christ made it so.”

Hanna leaves behind her husband and their four children.

 

By Francesca Pollio Fenton

 

This article was originally published by Catholic News Agency on April 8, 2024.


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