Maria Mediatrix Sister Antonia Batseran holds traditional medicine she produces from dried parasitic plants. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari/ucanews.com)
A dream changed the life of Maria Mediatrix nun Antonia Batseran.
Back in 1983, when she was teaching at an elementary school run by her congregation in Indonesia's Maluku province, a doctor diagnosed her as having advanced breast cancer.
"The doctor said that I had little chance to live," she told ucanews.com.
But Sister Batseran, 70, later had surgery eight times over consecutive years and in the last operation her left breast was totally removed.
She kept praying to God for a miracle. And one night, her brother, Akle Ivakdalam, had a dream in which he was called upon to take parasitic plants from a kapok tree and an orange tree in front of their house to make medicine.
The next morning, he collected the plants to dry them before boiling the stems and leaves.
"I regularly drank the potion for three years and felt so much better than before," Sister Batseran relates. "Yet I had to see a doctor to make sure that my breast cancer had gone."
The doctor was surprised by her recovery, she said.
She had remembered a message from her brother's dream that she should help heal others suffering from cancer.
After taking up a new job as a congregational school headmistress, she also attended medical clinics in her district, as well as others in West Java, and even traveled abroad.
She tells of passing cosmic energy or prana to each patient, and also praying to God, before offering the traditional medicine.
"I got the cosmic energy when I was suffering from breast cancer," she said. This 'God’s gift' suddenly came up, and I use it now to help heal my patients."
She never makes patients pay for the traditional medicine. But if a patient has enough money and offers to pay, she uses the money to run her healing service along with support she receives from her congregation.
"It has been more than 30 years now," she says of her healing endeavors.
Among those she has treated is Lie Lie, a 52-year-old Catholic mother of three who has a lump in her left breast.
Lie Lie met the nun for the first time in 2010 at a clinic in North Jakarta.
"I had seen a doctor, but it was still so painful," she said. "A friend of mine told me to see her. I have drunk the potion three times a day and refrained from eating oily food since then. Thanks be to God, the lump has become smaller now."
The nun brought her a feeling of peace.
"I believe prayers heal everything," she says, adding that she will continue to take the traditional medicine until her lump is gone.
Besides serving people with cancer in clinics, Sister Batseran also visits cancer patients in hospitals.
"As a human being, I easily feel tired, off course," she says. "But I cannot just ignore those coming to me to ask for my help. I am only an intermediary. It is God who heals them."