.- After a decade of struggling with cancer and other illnesses, a 58-year-old woman from Madrid has found comfort and renewed strength from a recent encounter with Pope Francis.
“Now I am living with joy, happiness and above all, gratitude,” said Elena Alba, according to the newspaper La Razon.
For the past 10 years, Alba has been battling several illnesses, including two bouts with cancer, most recently in her brain. Surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation have been unsuccessful in treating her.
Faced with a dim prognosis from her doctors, Alba decided that one of the things she wanted to do while still alive was to see the Pope. Despite the risks that such a journey might pose to her health, she traveled to the Vatican with the help of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Alba was able to share a few minutes with the Pope during a private audience he gave to those with grave illnesses. She recalled that at the time, she was experiencing paralysis on the left side of her body. But upon arriving at the Vatican, “I began to regain my mobility,” she said.
The Pope arrived at the audience and began hugging and blessing the children and other people present.
“His face began to change,” Alba recalled. “When he came to me, he took out his handkerchief and I saw him sob and wipe away his tears.”
Alba wanted to read him a letter, but it was impossible for the Pope to stop for any longer. She gave the letter to him, and he said he would read it later and answer her.
“I felt the Holy Spirit invade me at that moment,” she said.
Despite her health challenges, Alba said she now feels a renewed sense of joy and gratitude for life and believes that “with God's strength,” she can carry on for “as long as God wants.”