Despite Cancer, Student Shines Her Light


Maria Maciel

A student of Southwestern Adventist University has taken her leave due to breast cancer. But even now continues to make an impact on people’s lives.

Maria Maciel, a sophomore dentistry and psychology major, made her announcement during a girl’s dorm worship to leave this weekend to return home to Arkansas.

According to Maciel, she felt a little different since the end of her freshman year of college at SWAU. However, at first she hadn’t thought much of it.

“At the end of July I felt something was very wrong,” says Maciel. “The first week of August I went to get checked.”

Maciel went to see a family doctor. They told her to take an ultrasound, biopsy and a mammogram. She failed each one.

“In the back of my mind I began to think, ‘I failed the mammogram? I’m screwed!’” says Maciel.

She then returned to SWAU the following semester not telling anybody about the results of her trip to the doctor. A couple of weeks into the first semester, she received a phone call from her doctor telling her that she had breast cancer. Even after the phone call, she continued to keep the results a secret from everyone, including her parents.

Maciel says that she would often think of how it was possible that every day could be her last. So she figured that she would hug everyone when she would greet him or her even if she didn’t know them. She decided that she would be a light regardless of the situation that she was going through.

A student such as SeoYeon Park, a sophomore nursing major, is one of the many people that were affected by the light that Maciel had shared.

“She’s so caring!” says Park. “She would spontaneously bring me brownies. And when I was sick, she would bring me medicine. I wouldn’t be surprised if she did that for other people. She likes to compliment people a lot and likes to make people smile by giving compliments and just saying hello every day!”

Eventually she had to tell her family that she had cancer, and that she needed surgery. Throughout the whole experience, she often questioned the presence of God. But on the day of surgery, she heard a voice.

“The voice said ‘Don’t worry, honey, I’ve always been here. I’ve never left you,’” Maciel explains.

That was exactly what she needed to get through the challenges in her life. At that moment she knew God was with her and she felt stronger and able to meet this difficult situation.

Even though she still has cancer and has to return home because of it, she decided to not allow the cancer to ruin her life. She made the personal decision to not let her light die. Maciel claims Psalm 119:17 as her own to keep her strength and spirits up.

When Maciel returns to Arkansas, her and her doctors will see what procedures will need to be done in order to fight the cancer. Afterwards, Maciel wishes to shine her light elsewhere and continue her education at the University of Montemorelos in Mexico.

“God’s opening doors for me there and I feel like should go. I’ll always visit. SWAU is my home and my family is here,” she says.

Maciel wants her SWAU family to know that they have been a big part of her life. She feels that because of them and their gestures of encouragement she has the strength to keep fighting.

“One thing that I’ve learned is that if we say that we have Christ in our hearts, we should share it,” Maciel says.

At all times, Maciel spreads her smile of hope, constantly inspiring people with her acts of kindness. On October 30, Southwestern students decided to show support and love as they all wore pink and white to show thanks and appreciation for the light that she has shone on campus.

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