Igor’s life has been marked by suffering and pain for years. He left Ukraine in 2014 at the beginning of the war in Donbass and moved to Poland, where he tried to start over. But a new beginning in a foreign country without knowing the language proved to be very difficult. He had no money, no family, no support. “I was completely penniless, everything became a matter of survival,” Igor tells Aleteia.
Baptized in the Orthodox Church, Igor wasn’t practicing and didn’t pray much. From time to time, he simply walked into an open church, sat on a bench, and prayed as much as he could, driven by doubts and suffering. One day, he says, “I walked into a church. I prayed for help, and help came. A boy I didn’t expect at all lent me money.” At that moment, Igor didn’t yet realize that this helping hand was actually God’s help.
By Christmas 2020, Igor was again alone and broke. “It was so painful to be alone at that time,” he admits. “It was the day before Christmas, and everyone was celebrating with their families while mine was far away. I was seized with great sadness. I told myself that God had abandoned me,” he admits. But Igor eventually found a job and finally got a taste of security. “The situation of not having enough money taught me a lesson: to appreciate what I already have,” he says.
Cancer: A 3-5% chance of survival
But just when Igor thought he was out of the woods, a few months later he was hit hard by illness. Afflicted by very painful aches, Igor was diagnosed with sciatica, then a hernia. “The attacks of pain became more frequent and more intense,” he recalls. “The first time, I cried in pain. I remember 48 hours of constant pain.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a hernia or sciatica. A new and much more alarming diagnosis was made: a malignant tumor measuring over 6 centimeters. Igor’s chance of survival was estimated at between 3% and 5%.
The treatment did nothing. On the contrary, Igor’s health seemed to be deteriorating day by day. A vicious circle was set in motion. “The chemotherapy severely damaged my intestines. I would go to sleep and wake up in unthinkable pain every day. I found myself in a situation where I hadn’t eaten for several days, because every meal caused such pain that I couldn’t swallow anything at all,” says Igor. This time, Igor couldn’t see a way out. He was plagued by suicidal thoughts, until the day he decided to go to Mass.
“I realized that God had simply saved me”
“I sat on a bench, started singing with the people. And at one point I started to cry as I had never cried in my life,” Igor recalls. “The woman next to me gave me tissues. I felt as if all the pain I was holding inside me was starting to leave me. Then I heard a sermon on humility that spoke to me so much. I felt better than ever, safe, supported…”
The next day, Igor’s medical check-up announced very positive results. Every day, the young man felt better and better, not only physically but also mentally. No cancer cells remained in his body.
“I realized that God had simply saved me,” says Igor. “He gave me the hope that I had lost. I’m in remission now. And I hope to be healthy for the rest of my life. I know the sins I commit, but I’m taking action to fight them, and I’m getting stronger every day. I no longer have any suicidal thoughts.” He has found God and wants to continue to get to know him better, which he does by going to Mass more and more often.