Facing Cancer with Faith in God Marcia Glover-Banks, a single mother of three young girls, was diagnosed with stomach cancer almost two years ago. Her journey has reinforced her faith in God and her belief that how we bear the trials of life is a reflection of inner grace.
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Facing Cancer with Faith in God

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Facing Cancer with Faith in God

Facing Cancer with Faith in God

Facing Cancer with Faith in God

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Marcia Glover-Banks, center, with her three daughters -- at bottom, Jazzmine, 7, 8-year-old Andrea at left and 14-year-old Shanice. Roy Hurst, NPR hide caption

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Roy Hurst, NPR

Marcia Glover-Banks, center, with her three daughters -- at bottom, Jazzmine, 7, 8-year-old Andrea at left and 14-year-old Shanice.

Roy Hurst, NPR

Ed Gordon shares a laugh with Marcia Glover-Banks at her New Jersey home. Roy Hurst, NPR hide caption

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Roy Hurst, NPR

Ed Gordon shares a laugh with Marcia Glover-Banks at her New Jersey home.

Roy Hurst, NPR

Web Extra: Hear Marcia Glover-Banks and her daughters sing "A Family's Love" created with help from her hospice's music therapy program.

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We all deal with the death of a loved one differently. Some of us depend on friends or family, many of us on faith. But what if you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and had to prepare for your own passing?

I recently read a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a woman facing that very question. And the answer she found -- and the grace with which she found it -- compelled me to meet her.

Everything about the home of Marcia Glover-Banks seems normal. The 42-year-old New Jersey resident is a single mother of three young girls, and the closeness among them is almost palpable.

But life here is not quite as normal as this family would want. Almost two years ago, Marcia was told she had stomach cancer. Her doctors say her case is terminal. None of them expected her to be alive today, and they doubt she'll make it through to Christmas.

But Marcia shows no fear. She sums up her attitude with a favorite mantra: "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."

When I met Marcia Glover-Banks, I quickly learned that the subject of God is always present in her conversations.

"It is amazing what you learn when you go through things," she says. "But you know, when God said 'I will maketh you to lie down in green pastures,' he will. And that means comfort -- he will make it comfortable for you."

Over the past few months, much of Marcia's comfort has come through hospice care, designed to make the process of dying more comfortable for people with chronic illness. At first she was reluctant -- she says she always thought hospice care was about accelerating death, and she's not planning on going anywhere anytime too soon.

But last January a doctor persuaded Marcia to look into the nonprofit hospice organization called Samaritan, and she discovered that hospice care could help with a few essentials, like daily visits from a nurse. They could also take care of her shopping needs, and even provide a much-needed weekly massage.

Now Marcia says hospice care allows her to focus more on her family, and on her own legacy. She's just completed her memoir, titled Embracing the Journey.

"It's amazing to me," she says. "What you would think would be the most vulnerable or horrific time in my life, is the most productive time of my life. Like the preacher man said, 'Either your coming out of a storm, you're in one, or getting ready go into one.' So you might as well saddle up and get ready for the next one. Don't feel like you have to be strong for your children -- get strong for yourself."