When Denise Archuleta was battling cancer, she had the unmistakable feeling that her cancer – while it could rob her of earthly life – pointed to the greater truth of eternal life. Only, she noticed that when she brought it up with other cancer patients and survivors at secular retreats and support groups, that it made them visibly uncomfortable.
“I could immediately sense this tension when I would bring up God or eternity,” says Denise, and she longed for a community with whom she could discuss these deeper truths. “So I searched, and searched, and searched for a Christ-centered retreat for women dealing with cancer. But I couldn’t find one.”
Instead, Denise attended an Ignatian retreat, where she felt moved to ask the leaders if they would be willing to put on a retreat for female cancer patients and survivors. The Ignatian retreat leaders referred Denise to Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, a nun, cancer survivor, and retreat leader from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity in Iowa. The two women talked about the need for a conference for Christian women facing cancer – a time that would specifically focus on the reality of our immortal souls.