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Jessica Hanna and her familyGoFundMe

(LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic mother who refused abortion while battling cancer and was “miraculously” declared cancer-free two weeks after giving birth to her healthy son in 2021 used social media to highlight the power of redemptive suffering. The sizable social media following that she amassed during her first fight against cancer prayed for and with her when her cancer unexpectedly returned in 2022, and is now grieving the news that she died on April 6.

Jessica Hanna had noticed a “dent” in her breast in 2020, but a doctor told her it was nothing to worry about.

Two weeks later, she became pregnant with her fourth child, and when she was 14 weeks’ pregnant was diagnosed with breast cancer. Several doctors urged her to abort her child, but she refused and safely pursued chemotherapy “with some modifications” while pregnant. Jessica repeatedly emphasized that it was her son who saved her life, because had she not been pregnant, she wouldn’t receive the cancer diagnosis and been able to begin treatment when she did.

“She was determined to bring her son into the world and conquer cancer with the help of God’s immense mercy and grace,” her GoFundMe explained. “Surgery while pregnant revealed she had a large tumour with 43 lymph nodes positive and was deemed likely terminal. After boldly uniting her Cross with Christ, running to the Sacraments and help from the power of prayer, Jessica was miraculously clear of all cancer two weeks after her son Thomas was born.”

But about a year and a half later, Jessica learned on December 12, 2022 – the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe – that her cancer had returned and was terminal. In 2024, her health declined and the cancer spread to her brain.

“She received Extreme Unction and the Apostolic Pardon from Fr. Canon Sharpe Thursday. On Saturday she was very peaceful and surrounded by her loving family, she breathed her last. The cancer was just too aggressive. She suffered joyfully, and without fear in her last days,” her husband wrote on Jessica’s popular Instagram account, @blessed_by_cancer.


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A post shared by Jessica Hanna (@blessed_by_cancer)

Redemptive suffering

“He’s the one that actually saved my life,” Jessica told EWTN of her baby, Thomas Solanus, in September 2022. “If it wasn’t for me getting pregnant, I never would have double-checked” the breast issue, which turned out to indicate cancer.

“And from then on, it was just a journey of, wow, now you’ve talked the talk, the pro-life talk, now you’ve become the woman that everybody uses in their arguments – what if the woman’s life is in danger? And now it’s time for me to walk the walk,” she recalled.

In 1962, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, a pregnant pediatrician, declined to sacrifice her daughter’s life to save her own. She died a week after giving birth.

Like St. Gianna, Jessica was also a medical professional – a pharmacist.

“Never, ever go with one opinion,” Jessica advised. “I would not take one medical opinion for gold.” She said she got about eight to 10 opinions before doing anything. “A couple doctors” told her to “terminate” but “it actually was not necessary at all.”

Jessica said that she turned to Blessed Solanus Casey and St. Gianna for inspiration and intercession. Jessica prayed at the former’s tomb, which is in Detroit, after every chemotherapy treatment, “for me to be miraculously healed and for my son to come out beautiful and healthy.” St. Gianna’s daughter sent Jessica a relic card during her treatments.

Jessica urged anyone suffering to unite their sufferings with Christ and take their fears to the blessed Virgin Mary, who “knows what it’s like” to have sorrows and fears when it comes a child. “If you go to her, she will take those fears, she will bring them to her son, and she will beg with you in order for Him to deliver.”

Jessica used her large social media following to share the redemptive power of suffering and promote the Catholic faith.


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A post shared by Jessica Hanna (@blessed_by_cancer)

“Jessica had a unique way to make everybody she came across feel loved, cared for, and important. In her last years this genuine love for others spread like wildfire as an online ministry to help save souls. With God’s grace she succeeded beyond what even she could have imagined. Her witness of redemptive suffering has helped thousands around the world strengthen their faith, and will continue to do so after her death,” the final post on her GoFundMe said.