CANCER HEALED THROUGH THE POWERFUL INTERCESSION OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
The personal testimony given by Fr. Agi Paul Kappiyarumalayil CSC
I was born on 20th June 1972 as the first child of Mr. Paul Varkey and Mrs. Leelaamma Paul at Kallorkad, Movattupuzha, Ernakulam District, Kerala, South India. I have three younger brothers Fr. Anil Paul, SVD, Mr. Anoop Paul and Mr. Arun Paul. Fr. Anil works as a missionary in Ireland, Anoop got married to Saumya and both are at Delhi. The youngest brother Arun is working at Kollam, Kerala. I joined the Fathers of Holy Cross in the year 1989 and made my final profession on 5th October 2001 and was ordained a priest on the 11th of May 2002 along with my brother.
It was in the year 1980, when I was 8 years old and studying in class IV. My parents say that I developed high temperature which lasted for many days along with ceaseless cough. In the beginning, the spittle contained blood stains. I used to hide it for fear of going to the hospital. But once, when I was hiding it, my mother noticed it and I was taken to a hospital at Kallorkkad, very near my home. The doctor (name is protected) examined me and said that I was suffering form tuberculosis and had to be administered 110 intra-venal injections which made me suffer so much, since it was continuously given on both the thighs alternatively every day, until I completed the full treatment. After 110 injections, my illness didn’t seem to subside, but I became more tired and weak and the quantity of blood stains in the spittle seemed to be very high.
That particular day, the doctor took three X-Rays and in all the three my left lung showed signs that it didn’t take oxygen in. The left lung remained white on the X-Ray. He then realized that it was a wrong diagnosis done by him and had given me the wrong treatment which could have destroyed some of the vital organs in my body. Then he advised my father to take me to another hospital at Thodupuzha. The doctor there examined me and could not diagnose what the illness was. Then he asked my father to take me to another hospital in Moovattupuzha, where the doctor gave me just one week’s treatment and told my father to rush me to the Medical Hospital at Kolanchery, very close to Ernakulam (Cochin).
There they did the X-Ray screening test, as scanning was not very popular and was not available there, and informed my father that there was something struck in the left lung and it had to be sucked out, but they didn’t have the instrument to do that. Therefore, they advised them to take me to Ernakulam Medical Trust Hospital. Being economically below the middle class, my parents had to borrow a lot of money and I was taken by public transport to the hospital. While traveling in the bus I was ceaselessly coughing and spitting out blood. A person, who was sitting behind them, shouted at my parents saying, “Take this creature out and allow us to travel safely”. My mom says she held that sorrow in her heart and said nothing to anyone.
I was admitted in the Medical Trust Hospital, Ernakulam (Cochin) and, on the 14th of December 1980, I was taken to the operation theater to see if they could suck out the growth in the lung, but soon the doctor called my father over the phone. He was with my mother in the room. The doctor told him that they failed in the attempt and that I had to be operated immediately, since I was already unconscious. My father and mother prayed to Our Lady of Vallarpadam, Cochin, and gave their permission to the doctor to conduct the operation on me. The surgery was done and my left lung’s lower portion and some parts of the upper portion were removed. The removed parts were shown to us in the hospital and preserved for the studies of the students in the nursing college at the hospital. Part of it was sent to Lissy Hospital, Ernakulam for biopsy and the result came – advanced stage of LUNG CANCER! My father was out to buy food and medicines when doctor Joseph called my mother to his duty room and informed her that a cancer of the lung was confirmed and that I would live a maximum of 6 months and not more. My mother said she gave a loud cry and asked the doctor to save my life. He said, “Everything is in the hands of God. You pray. We are doing the best we can”.
How true the following words from the Bible are when I look back into my life today: “I know the plans I have for you… plans for peace, not disaster” (Jer. 29:11) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I have appointed you as prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1: 5). ”It was you who created my inmost self, and put me together in my mother’s womb… You know me through and through, from having watched my bones take shape when I was being formed in secret, knitted together in the limbo of the womb” (Ps.139: 13, 15)
My mother says that after I fell sick she began to pray the holy rosary on her knees the whole night and go for the Holy Eucharist every day. Usually, when she went for the Holy Mass on Sundays she would find a place right at the back of the church, but my sickness brought her to a place right in front of the altar that too every day. She made many promises to Our Lady of Vallarpadam on my behalf. She promised that once I got well she would go along with me to 13 houses every year in the month of December and beg for some donations and bring the whole money to the church at Vallarpadam, Cochin, which I did until I joined the Seminary. She also promised that in the church at Vallarpadam I would be dedicated to Our Lady as her servant. She made a promise to her that my photo, along with my written testimony, would be placed near her picture in the church. Then every year, at our home, 12 children would be given food as a special offering which is very common in Kerala and popularly known as the “twelve apostles’ meal.” On my first visit, after my first chemothera- py, we fulfilled all that was promised to her by my mother.
The doctors who conducted the surgery and treated me were Dr. T.N. Joseph and his wife Dr. Saumini Joseph. I spent some 20 days in the Intensive Care Unit with different kinds of tubes hanging all round my body. I could see blood-stained fluid running out of my body for many days. Then afterwards I was sent back to my room where I spent many days under observation and treatment. My parents say that I spent almost two months in that hospital! One doctor, whose name was Dr. Unnimenon, took my biopsy result and went to Velloor Medical College to get some medical advise on what type of chemotherapy should be administered to me. The Velloor Hospital advised him that intravenous chemotherapy would be too dangerous, as I was too young to take it. So, it was suggested that I take pills and go through that medication four times. My father says that there were many types of pills and capsules given to me. Yet, the doctor privately reminded my parents that my life was not going to be for too long: a maximum of six months! I took the first chemotherapy at the hospital and then I was discharged and came home.
My parents say that I started vomiting profusely, and my body became very weak, I refused to take any food, my hair started to fall off, which I remember so well. My mom says she used to collect it from my pillow every day and throw it outside. My teeth became almost as dark as charcoal! It’s the same teeth that I have even today! I couldn’t believe it when my mother told me this on the 10th of May 2011. She requested all those whom she met for prayers, because she knew that it was the only hope left for my survival. She continued to be on her knees for the whole night praying the holy rosary and taking part in the Holy Eucharist.
Since my condition was deteriorating and the first chemotherapy itself was causing more health problems, they took me back to the hospital again and consulted the doctor. He suggested that the chemotherapy be continued, but my parents refused and left the rest of the pills and capsules, bought for the other four sessions of chemo, at the hospital to be used by poor people. My mom and father decided to take me to the church of Our Lady at Vallarpadam, Cochin. After reaching there I remember my father and my mother praying the holy rosary in tears. My mom says I asked them, “Are you both so mad to cry like this?” I never knew as a young child why they were crying, but they knew they were at the feet of Mary and their tears had such a value. A priest from the shrine was called in to dedicate me to Mary as her servant. The money collected from 13 houses was offered to Our Lady there. Then my mom offered some oil to the shrine and took oil from a lamp which was burning there 24 hours a day in front of the statue of Our Lady and the sanctuary of the Lord. She applied it on my head then and there and said, “ My son you belong to her, and she is in charge of you. From now on, she will look after you; nothing to worry.”
We came home, and my mom says that from that time onwards not a single hair fell down from my head. I was surprised to hear from Sr. Eimy, CMC, who counseled me at Sehion Retreat Centre, Attappady, Palakkad, when I went there for a retreat from the 3rd to the 8th of April 2011, telling me: “Our Lady says to you Father : ‘Son when you were too young and when I saved you from a very serious sickness, your mother dedicated you to me and I have taken you as mine forever. And until today I was protecting you, hiding you from danger, holding you close to my heart. Even when you met with the accident in 2003 it was me who carried you to safety’”. This incident too inspired me to serve in the Rosary Ministry that I was already contemplating to propagate.
I was then taken to a homeo doctor at Kurinji, in Kottayam district, Kerala. The doctor’s name was Dr. A.M. Varghese (Late). He also used to be a professor for medical students. He began his treatment. Many were wondering what homeo medicines can do in such a serious situation where other medicines have failed. And that was indeed true. “No medicine or ointment cured them. They were restored to health by your word, O Lord” (Wis.16, 12). But that was indeed some solace for my parents who didn’t know what to do next. After some 14 days of our visit to Our Lady’s church, as my mom and dad say, one day it was 6 p.m. in the evening. I was still lying on my bed tired and weak because of the effects of the chemotherapy. I suddenly got up, jumped out of my bed and ran to the kitchen where my parents were. I took the cooked rice and began to eat it without any curry.
My hunger returned. I began to put on weight, my ESR count began to come down and soon became normal. The doctors, at the Medical Trust Hospital, were surprised, knowing that something miraculous had happened to me. They even asked my mother what medicine they gave to me and she replied, “My medicine is the Holy Rosary”. No one could ever believe that I was well again and back on my feet. The color of my teeth became white again, my hair began to grow again. She says that she would carry me to the church every day for daily Mass and especially to the Novena of Our Lady at St. Mary’s Church, Nakappuzha, on Saturdays. I think it was from then on that I was regular for my daily Mass along with my family, until I joined the seminary at Aymanam in 1989. My picture with my written testimony were placed at Our Lady of Ransom church, Vallarpadam.
All these kinds of medicines and treatments affected my studies very much. I was finding it difficult to memorize things. Often I got less marks in Mathematics and English. At times, I failed. Other subjects too were affected. Yet somehow I passed for the final exams and proceeded to the next class. When I reached class X, I knew it was going to be difficult. I used to leave my second younger brother at the nursery school, at Kaloor, St. Johns’ church campus, very close to my school. I decided to enter the church every day after leaving him at the nursery and pray one Our Father, three Hail Marys and one Glory be to the Father for success in my studies. When the model exam was over, I was confident. I got first class. Then in the final exam I had the highest marks among all those who got first class in the school. I knew very well it was just the result of the power of prayer.
When I was in class VII, I had lots of warts on both my palms: almost some 60 or more of them. It was not getting cured. We made an offering in the chapel nearby. I think it was that evening itself, I was having a bath, along with my brother, near our well on a cemented platform. After applying the bathing soap I looked at both my palms and none of the warts were there. They had fallen off my hands leaving some marks. My brother joined in to pick them up from the floor and put them in a coffee leaf in order to carry them home and show them to our parents.
After all my treatments, I had developed asthma. It was difficult for me to breathe, because I had only one and a quarter of my lungs. After joining the seminary I never told anyone in Holy Cross about it for fear of being sent home and I didn’t even tell my parents about it, because I was scared they would force me to return home. I suffered all that silently. When I was in our formation house at Museum Road, Bangalore, I used to get sick very often, usually of cold and cough. All of it was because of the sickness that I went through.
The asthmatic attack also increased. I used to be sitting on my bed putting the mosquito net down, so that no one would ever notice me struggling. Only one of my friends knew about it and that too accidentally. On my request, he used to buy some lotion to apply on my chest, which hardly did anything to ease my struggle to breathe. At times, when all used to go to bed I would go to the chapel and sit there with the rosary in my hands. And sometimes I slept there. During my second year of Degree studies in Bangalore, I don’t know when but the asthmatic attacks left me and it has never returned till today. I believe that it was the power of the Holy Rosary and the intercession of my heavenly Mother.
On October 13, 2010, I preached about it in St. Antony’s Friary, after which many came to tell me it inspired them. And after a few weeks I met a lady at St. Mary’s basilica, Shivajinagar, in Bangalore, who said, “Father, I had stopped praying the Holy Rosary after the death of my husband, but after hearing your preaching I picked it up again.” It inspired me so much. I began to think about how to spread the devotion to the Holy Rosary and to Our Lady. I had no clear idea. Then there was a thought that came to my mind: why not preach about it and distribute rosaries to people. But where to find the money for it? Will anyone support that project? Will it be appropriate to do it? Confusion and no answers!
To see if my desire would go through, I decided to request the Holy Cross Family Ministries in India. It was in fact with a divided mind that I asked for it. I gave an application saying I wanted to buy some 6000 rosaries and print the mysteries of the Holy Rosary in 6 languages, along with the Divine Mercy prayer. When my application came for discussion it was rejected saying that we were already getting rosaries from HCFM International and I didn’t need to duplicate that effort. I too agreed with it. But my mind said I want to do it.
Then suddenly I remembered what Fr. Morissette, the Director, had told me when I went along with him to preach on the Rosary to children. He said that the plastic rosaries were for children. I reminded the committee that my plan was to buy rosaries for adults and not for children. Hearing that, the Director pulled out the rejected application and permitted me some funds to buy rosaries to carry out my plan. I knew, after some calculations, that it would help me buy only 2500 rosaries at the rate of Rs.12 a piece and also print the mysteries in 6 different languages. What is that for a city like Bangalore! In the night when I was lying down I got a new idea: why not send an SMS to all my friends in Bangalore and to my relatives informing them that I was planning to do this work for Our Lady. I picked up my mobile phone and sent a message to all. Responses began to flock to my mobile. “Yes Father….go ahead we are there with you.”
In preparation for the ministry of spreading devotion to the Holy Rosary and preaching about the healing that I received, with the permission of my Superior, I went for the priests’ retreat at Sehion Retreat Centre, Attappady, Palakkad, Kerala from the 3rd to the 8th of April 2011. I was tremendously touched by the Lord there. The priest, not knowing what I was engaged in, heard my confession and asked: “Father, I see lots of rosaries in front of you, what is it all about?” I was surprised as to how he came to know about what I was planning to do. And that confirmed me in the ministry that I was about to begin. Then when I went for counseling to Sr. Eimy, CMC, she told me all that happened in my childhood and how Our Lady interceded for me. “ Lord, you examine me and know me, you know if I am standing or sitting, you read my thoughts from far away… The word is not even on my tongue, Lord, before you know all about it” (Ps.139:1-2. 4). That powerful experience all the more confirmed me and made me sure that what I have been thinking for a long time was really something that God wanted me to do.
And I began my first preaching on the Rosary, Mother Mary and family prayer at the Basilica of Our Lady in Shivajinagar,Bangalore, in a most humble way, on the first Saturday after Easter, during a morning Mass. Then I took up the preaching at all the Masses at St. Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, Frazer Town, Bangalore, on 15th May 2011, on 22nd at St. Patrick’s church Bangalore, and on 29th at St. Michael’s church, Bangalore. I distributed rosaries to people and many came directly and also over the phone to tell me that they felt inspired to pray. Some even promising to begin to pray. In my priestly life what more happiness can I get other than by inspiring people to turn to God through the intercession of Mary our heavenly Mother. So, I continue my work, I carry rosaries to parishes after parishes, preach on Mary and give witness to her powerful intercession. I believe that it is her work and not mine. She wants me to stand as a witness to her powerful intercession and bring people to the Holy Eucharist, family prayer and thus closer to Jesus. I am just an instrument in the hands of Mother Mary and her beloved Son. Yes, I will be there beside her all my life.
Fr. Agi Paul Kappiyarumalayil CSC
Holy Cross Fathers
Mob: +91 9900285205 (Bangalore)
+91 9496413737 (Kerala)