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No greater love: Mother with cancer who refused to abort her child dies on Christmas

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What a witness.

Details: 

A 43-year-old Catholic nurse in India died on Christmas Day from breast cancer, two years after she refused her doctor’s advice to get an abortion, so she could begin chemotherapy.

Sapna Tracy, who already had seven children, refused to sacrifice the life of her child, giving birth to her daughter Philomena in December 2015.

“I visited the family on Christmas Day, the day she died, and her husband was carrying the baby in his arms, saying ‘Praise be to Jesus.’ Sapna stood for life. Sapna stood for being pro-life. She wasn’t afraid,” Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhath, of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Archdiocese of Thrissur, told Crux.

The nurse lived with her husband, Chittilappally Joju, and her children, all under the age of 15.

Both had been active in various Catholic organizations as young people, and had been working with pro-life advocacy in their married life.

She worked as a nurse at the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Faridabad gave an award to the couple to honor them for their large family.

“This Catholic couple was inspirational in their witness of the Gospel message,” said Faridabad Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara.

Read more. 

Additional background: 

Indian Express, among the major national newspapers, reports that the woman had received numerous warnings from the treating physicians that if she had delayed the start of chemotherapy, in all likelihood she would leave the other seven little children orphans. But Sapna answered the doctors: “I can only give life to this creature that grows in my womb. There are many good-hearted people who will take care of my seven other children “.

Sapna, originally from Thalayolaparambu (Kerala), worked as a specialist nurse at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. She was married to Chittilappilly Joju, originally from Chittattukara, in the Thrissur district. Here the woman, after the tumor diagnosis, had decided to return with the whole family, to allow for the birth of the eighth child, a little girl named Philomena, in the serenity of family warmth.

Related: Who will take the pope’s road to canonization—offering one’s life? 

During her third month, she was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors advise her to have an abortion and start treatment immediately. Even friends and relatives agreed with the doctors. But she opposed the foeticide. “She told the doctors that if her life was worthy of value, then the same was true for that of her unborn daughter”, reports Msgr. Bharanikulangara.

During the sixth month of pregnancy she had a breast mastectomy. Only after giving birth she began radiation therapy. Because of her courageous choice against abortion, the Catholic mother received the “Pro-Life Award” from the eparchy of Faridabad. In addition to her husband, Sapna leaves James, 15; Teresa, 14; Jose, 11; Sebastian, 9; Francis, 8; Mary, 6; Antony, 4, and Philomena, a year and a half. Her funeral was held at St. Sebastian’s Church in Chittattukara.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord … 

Deacon Greg Kandra
The Deacon's Bench
Deacon Greg Kandra is a Roman Catholic deacon in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. For nearly three decades, he was a writer and producer for CBS News, where he contributed to a variety of programs and was honored with every major award in broadcasting. Deacon Greg now serves as Multimedia Editor for Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA.) He and his wife live in Forest Hills, New York.
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