An Invitation to New Life

01/13/2017 .
Clayton Heilman  .  Storyteller

“In the middle of the night my son came up to me and told me he had a nightmare — someone in our family had died of cancer in his dream,” Cece said. It was the second time God had tried to get her attention. She didn’t know it yet, it was a wake up call.

Nervously, she called her doctor the next day and scheduled the appointment. The doctor thought she was fine but Cece insisted they do a test. Her fears were confirmed, Cece was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The fear from her diagnosis caused her to reevaluate her life. Cece believed in God, but didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. When her friend Jacqueline saw the struggle she was going through she reached out and invited her to attend Saddleback Women’s Pray Love Lead event with her at Saddleback Church.

Cece had just finished her chemo and was anxious about her upcoming mastectomy. Jacqueline’s invite gave Cece hope, she was excited to go to church with her long-time friend, Cece knew she had to get there.

“I saw she was struggling and my life had been changed so much at Saddleback, I had to reach out,” Jacqueline said.

The day of the event Cece’s ride fell through. Undeterred, Cece hopped in a car and drove herself the 40 miles to Saddleback Church. “My husband told me he didn’t think I should go, but I knew I had to get there,” Cece Said.

Jacqueline and her small group had arrived early, saving seats on the front row. As the service was about to begin, Jacqueline anxiously wondered if Cece would make it.


“I got a text from Cece when she arrived but she had parked at The Refinery,” Jacqueline said. Cece was too far away from the Worship Center, it would be a daunting walk for someone that had just finished chemotherapy.

Jacqueline ran out on the patio and found a volunteer with a radio. Minutes later a golf cart pulled up to Cece and drove her to the Worship Center.

After the service a woman named Mary Jane approached Cece and asked about her cancer. She offered to pray with Cece and asked about her relationship with God. “I knew in that moment I had to accept Jesus,” Cece said.

Jacqueline had turned her attention away briefly and when she returned she saw the group of women praying for Cece. “The sight was overwhelming,” Jacqueline said. “Cece, Mary Jane, and one other women were holding hands, crying, and praying together.”

“It was breathtaking,” Cece said. “It filled my soul — I didn’t want to leave.”

After that night Cece wanted to make sure she was baptized before her upcoming surgery. A few weeks later, she was back at Saddleback on a Sunday morning, ready to take her next step. Nearly 50 friends and family came with Cece that morning to cheer her on — many from different walks of faith. “My whole family loved it, I was shocked.” Cece said. “My kids had so much fun and my husband said he wanted to come back.”

“Looking back, I can see God directing everything,” Cece said. “ I had so much fear after chemo going into the next phase of my cancer journey. I was afraid I’d die. I walked into my surgery smiling, happy, and full of peace. None of the fear and anxiety that had been there before was in me.”

Friends came to the hospital and prayed with me,” she said. “And the doctor and nurse were Christians as well. They prayed with me as well, just before the anesthesia kicked in.”

“I look forward to continue my journey of getting to know God more,” Cece said. “I want to make sure he is a priority in my life, that’s what was missing before.”

Click HERE to learn more about Saddleback Women and Pray Love Lead.

Related StoriesSee More

Tammi thought she was just making new friends, when her health crisis hit the people around her taught her something she never expected.

Her second marriage was headed for an unfortunate end. But Denise wasn’t quite ready to give up.

Everything seemed to be working out for the young couple, until Anna and E.G. began to face infertility issues.

My wife and I were on a search.