Terrie Steeno was my 2nd grade teacher. She died recently after a 3 year battle with cancer at age 48. Terrie was a member of our parish and I actually spoke more with her husband Bob because I had him as a coach in high school. Later I joined Bob as a colleague in the teaching profession.
What I gained from Terrie was how impressed I was with her patience as a teacher and how she was able to recognize and give thanks for things most of us could not.
In the early stages of her cancer she obviously fell ill. A friend would bring her the Eucharist to her home everyday when she fell ill. That developed into Terrie attending daily Mass with this friend. More devotions followed including regular visits to a local perpetual Eucharistic adoration chapel and a trip to see the relics of her patron---St. Therese of the Child Jesus (or Little Flower).
Terrie developed a tremendous gift of being thankful. The day before she died she gathered her friends and family together and asked for our parish priest to come and give her last rites. She thanked God for the GIFT of cancer.
It brought her closer to God. To have that kind of mature spirituality is one I can only hope to obtain. I know I am supposed to be thankful in all things, but some things in the eyes of the world (and too often my own) seem horrible.
Her husband said she never complained once throughout the whole ordeal.
I pray her suffering will bear great fruits. That thankfulness and humility has left an indelible mark on me.