What I learned living with a cancer patient


As we’ve learned from our professors and by experience, a virtuous friend is among the greatest gifts this life has to offer. By chance or a miracle, Agnes Maloney, a senior education major,  asked me to move in with her and I gained an exemplary role-model and a lifelong friend. Our friendship has been a poignant reminder of how God reveals his infinite love for us through finite human relationships. 

Agnes is one of those women who is naturally so beautiful that everyone asks, “Who is that girl?” Her character that I have come to know over the past nine months of being roommates speaks to a much deeper beauty. 

Agnes radiates what it means to be a woman. The essence of a woman unveils the beauty of God and exemplifies His tender love for us. Women are relational to their core — and so is God. Byron said, “Man’s love is of a man’s life, a thing apart. Tis’ a woman’s whole existence.” It is our duty to unveil our beauty to the world and allure others into the heart of Jesus Christ. Anyone who has connected with Agnes feels His love.

In our first semester together Agnes taught me that daily Mass fits in every schedule, she got me up for 6 am hot yoga, she taught me to bring people together and she nannied 3 kids more than full time — sometimes driving back and forth to Dallas four times a day to get to class. As time marched on and I learned about Agnes I realized more and more how selfless, caring and saintly she is. Why do these things happen to the best people?

One Sunday afternoon, Agnes threw a wonderful party, as she does, and she ate too much of a delicious artichoke & jalapeno dip from Costco. In what can only be called a miracle, it gave her such terrible heartburn that on Monday, Jan. 23, she made the uncharacteristic decision to go to the hospital. 

The doctors found a 2.5 inch mass in her chest and 4 more soon after. On Feb. 15, Agnes was diagnosed with Primary Mediastinal B-cell Lymphoma, a fast growing blood cancer. The doctors told Agnes the tumors had only been growing for a month but, if they hadn’t caught it, she would not have survived until July.  

Not once, it seems, over the past 14 weeks, has Agnes’ joy been exhausted. She continues to attend class, set an example and offer her maternal soul to our community here at the University of Dallas and to so many beyond Irving’s borders. All the while being selfless, lending her ear and her heart to anyone who walks through our door, even whilst carrying her 24-hour chemo bag.

When she was diagnosed, I was terrified I wouldn’t have the strength to be there for her. Boy was I wrong! All I have to do is mirror the strength in her. Agnes manages cancer with grace and peacefulness, of course there are challenging days, but her joy remains. She shows what a woman is truly capable of when they walk with God. I must also attribute these qualities to Agnes’ amazing mom, Deedee Maloney, who has been by her side every minute and the most comforting addition to our little in-unit family. 

Maybe these things happen to people like Agnes so we can look to them for the right ways to deal with adversity. Give it all to God, fall deeper into a relationship with him, never lose your cheerfulness, stay connected to your community and to your mother. Agnes has endured three rounds of chemo already but she has three more to go. Please keep her in your hearts and continue to lift her up with your prayers. I know she is praying for all of you.


  1. What an exemplary article, Kelly, about an extraordinary young woman. Thank you for sharing. May God bless Agnes and her family in their suffering (and young Michael, for whom they always ask prayers!)


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