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Memphis Daily News
Finding God In the Midst Of Cancer
March 8, 2018
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

Anthony Maranise walked into my office to take over my job that day. He was 8 years old and had been battling cancer for the past three years of his young life. He carried an attaché case almost half his size and had a smile as wide as his face.

He very ceremoniously took his seat in the chair behind my desk and asked what I would be doing since he was the superintendent of schools for the day. I assured him I’d be around to assist him, if needed.

Anthony was a student at Holy Rosary School and had won the opportunity to spend a day in my shoes running the Catholic Schools in West Tennessee. The day consisted of meetings with the staff; making some (pre-arranged) calls to principals; having lunch with the bishop and myself; and sitting at the superintendent’s desk, writing about his experience.

It was a big job for a little guy, but not as big as the one he had as a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancers.

After being diagnosed at the age of 5, Anthony received continuous treatment at St. Jude and endured the effects of the pain and medication with an unquenchable hope. After 3 1/2 years – thanks to the great work of the doctors and staff at St. Jude; the love, support, and prayers of his family and friends; and his own resilient spirit – Anthony was declared cancer-free. He is a survivor.

Now, 20 years later, Anthony is still cancer-free. He is very aware of what that experience means to him and to others.

“I have an opportunity to share my experience with leukemia in a way that encourages others with cancer to trust in God,” he told me. Anthony, who is now an instructor in religious studies at the University of Memphis, has even taken it a step further.

Anthony wrote a book that he refers to as his love letter to St. Jude. He knows full well about the emotional distress and persistent cancer-related fears that cancer causes to patients and their loved ones as they travel an uncertain and frightening path.

In his book, titled “Cross of a Different Kind,” he uses his own experiences and unique perspective to assist those who are battling cancer, those whose loved ones have cancer and those who are cancer survivors.

He gives his readers a depth of compassion and understanding that is both spiritual and practical and serves as a comforting guide through the challenges, sufferings and even triumphs of the cancer experience.

His total commitment to assisting others who are touched by cancer in any way extends even further. All royalties and proceeds from the sales of his book will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in his advocacy for cancer research.

I recently attended Anthony’s book signing at Novel bookstore.

“It’s my turn now,” he said, “to show the face of God to others.”

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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