.- A 66-year-old grandmother whose inexplicable recovery from advanced cancer became the second miracle attributed to Bl. Mary MacKillop has broken her silence to tell her story. The miracle paved the way for Mary MacKillop to become Australia’s first canonized saint. Kathleen Evans, a mother of five and grandmother of 20, is from Windale near Lake Macquarie in the southeast Australian state of New South Wales.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1995, at the age of 49.
“My youngest was only 13,” Evans said, according to the Archdiocese of Sydney.
At first her surgeon thought he could add five or six years to her life by removing her right lung. This would be enough to see her son through high school.
However, Evans’ cancer was particularly virulent and spread fast into her glandular system and the base of her brain.
This barred any possibility of surgery and chemotherapy was ruled out because the cancer was too advanced. Evans was told radiation would only treat the side effects of the aggressive disease and would add only a few weeks to her life, the Archdiocese of Sydney reported.
"Radiation meant I'd have to go to hospital for 10 consecutive days. But I was too sick for that. Besides the odds weren't worth it," she said. "So I said, thanks but no thanks and went back to my doctor and asked him to see me through until the end."
By this time she could not dress or bathe herself, suffered from night sweats, had difficulty breathing and could not use the toilet on her own.
She then turned to prayer.
"My husband Barry and I were devout churchgoers but I wouldn't say I spent my life on my knees," Evans explained.
A friend gave her a picture of Bl. Mary MacKillop and attached to the back was a relic, a small piece of Mary’s clothing, the Archdiocese of Sydney says.
"I wore this relic on my nightie and later on my clothing. It never left me," Evans reported.
She also distributed to her friends and family prayer cards from the Sisters of St. Joseph in North Sydney.
"We asked them to pray the same prayer, asking Mary to pray with us to God for nine days on my behalf," she said.
Evans suddenly and unexpectedly began to improve. Instead of becoming weaker and frailer, her color began to return and she began to feel better.
"Every day I thought I was going to lose her, and when she started getting better, well it just blew me apart!" said Barry, her husband.
Ten months after her initial diagnosis, a series of X-rays and scans showed scar tissue on her lungs and brain where the cancer had been, but there was no sign of the disease.
"They asked to do a second series of tests. They couldn't believe there could be nothing there," she explained.
There was no scientific explanation for the disappearance of the cancer. Almost 15 years after its disappearance, Evans is fit and healthy and has not suffered any recurrence, the Archdiocese of Sydney reports.
"I don't believe I will ever get cancer again," she said, joking: "I'll probably die of a heart attack first."
Asked why she thought she had been chosen to be healed by God through Mary MacKillop’s intercession, she remarked, "When I get upstairs that will be the first question I ask."
Evans continues to pray to Bl. Mary MacKillop and feels her presence and believes she is constantly with her.
She said she hopes to be a good ambassador for the future canonized saint and would love to be in Rome for MacKillop’s canonization, which is likely to take place sometime later this year.
"If someone doesn't believe in miracles that is for them and that's fine," she said. "But it just happens I do believe in miracles and through Mary MacKillop's intervention, God saved my life."
Mary MacKillop, who lived from 1842 to 1909, founded and directed the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, who devoted themselves to offering education all over Australia. She was beatified in 1995 after a previous miraculous cure from cancer was attributed to her.