United in Prayer, Bound by Loss: How a Social-Media Post Led to a Powerful Bond Between Two Mothers

Both chose life in the face of death and became fast friends sharing in their grief, suffering and steadfast faith.

The LeBlancs lost their two girls the day the conjoined twins were born, living only an hour. Jessica Hanna died this month after a battle with cancer. They both refused abortion and built a meaningful friendship after finding eachother through EWTN reporting.
The LeBlancs lost their two girls the day the conjoined twins were born, living only an hour. Jessica Hanna died this month after a battle with cancer. They both refused abortion and built a meaningful friendship after finding eachother through EWTN reporting. (photo: Courtesy photos / Nicole LeBlanc/Hanna Family)

 “We are all terminal. We are all dying. We all share the same fate — death.” 

 This is something that Jessica Hanna would often say on her social media platforms. I never would have thought to think that my infant daughters were diagnosed as terminal even in the womb.

The day her cancer returned was the same day that I got the official diagnosis that I was pregnant for the first time with conjoined twins, two girls who shared one heart and would die shortly after birth. I was just 10 weeks pregnant when I learned they were fused at the chest, sharing a heart, liver, diaphragm, bowels and umbilical cord. I refused abortion even when the doctors said my life was at risk. 

Jessica was pregnant when she was diagnosed with cancer and she also refused abortion and trusted in God. Miraculously, her son was born perfectly healthy despite her receiving chemotherapy while pregnant. And also, miraculously, after her pregnancy she was cleared of cancer. 

Jessica’s story and mine were shared in various news outlets, including the Register, EWTN, ChurchPop, and many more Catholic and pro-life outlets. We also belonged to the same parish, St. Joseph Shrine in Detroit. While there, I learned about a parishioner who had cancer and was in need of prayers. This parishioner was Jessica Hanna. I found her Instagram account and was immediately drawn to her and how fervently she prayed. Even in the midst of suffering, she was joyful. Especially with my high-risk pregnancy, I really needed a friend like her to learn how to suffer well. 

In the Spring 2023, ChurchPop shared a story about my daughters. Jessica saw this post and shared it on her Instagram. I then messaged her and we started chatting. We would talk about the uncertainties which lay ahead for both of us. Was her cancer progressing? Was I going to be able to live with the grief after knowing that my daughters would soon die after birth? 

My daughters’ C-section was moved to May 16, at 32 weeks gestation. I immediately notified Jessica, since she had prayer warriors ready to pray for my daughters and me. “I’ll be doing my lung biopsy then. Offering it up for you and babies,” Jessica messaged me. 

Maria Therese and Rachel Clare lived for one hour outside of the womb and received the sacraments of baptism and confirmation right on my chest. I messaged Jessica and she responded, “Oh Nicole what a journey…you now have 2 saints in heaven to intercede for you. Your family is in my prayers. I’m so sorry for the heartache you have to endure but I also know there must be great peace knowing they are in the arms of God 🙏.” 

I told her that I was offering up my entire C-section recovery for her. I had comfort in knowing my daughters are saints in heaven and asked for their intercession to pray for Jessica. 

At four weeks postpartum, I was asked to speak at a pro-life event near Jessica’s house. She messaged me saying she had something to give me. A friend of hers had a gift for me but did not know how to get in contact with me. I drove to Jessica’s house, got her some flowers and I wrote a card for her. However, she had just received chemo and was not feeling well, so I left the flowers and card at her doorstep. 

During this past Christmas season, it seemed like Jessica had a lot of energy and was well. My husband and I got the keys to our first home a few days before Christmas. In early February I had an open house party and I invited Jessica but she couldn’t make it. That was the last time we chatted. 

Her condition worsened and eventually was critical. On April 6, I saw that my sweet friend had passed away into her eternal rest. Her battle was finally over. Her suffering was no longer. She was prepared to die and even had recently put out a video on detachment of earthy things. 

Jessica was quite extraordinary. She exuded the holiness of a saint in these modern times — in the way that she received the holy eucharist almost daily, prayed constantly, especially the First Friday and First Saturday devotions, and offered up her sufferings for holy souls in purgatory. She encouraged everyone to pray and would minister to many. She strengthened my prayer life and was a source of light when I was pregnant and then grieving. 

I pray I can become even a fraction of the woman she was. 

I never met Jessica in person, but we did offer up our sufferings and trials for each other. We checked in on each other and would support each other. I had only been chatting with her the last year of her life, but even in such a short time, she changed my life. Her visitation was my first time seeing her in person. She looked absolutely beautiful, and I am certain must have been even more beautiful coming before the throne of God after her earthly life ended. 

She lived her life rooted in a fierce love and devotion to her Catholic faith. Jessica often said, "The Eucharist is my medicine." Knowing her, she would want us to continue having Masses offered for her, and to carry on prayers for both her and her family. 

I laid my rosary on her folded hands and I prayed to God, through the intercession of my infant saints, Maria and Rachel, that Jess be among the saints and accompany my babies until I, prayerfully am reunited with them one day. 

But for now, I wander through this life, forever missing my daughters and Jessica. She truly was a mentor for me, and for all of us, teaching us how to suffer well. We must pick up our cross, follow Christ and say, “Onward.”

Jessica Hanna's funeral was April 15, 2024. Below please find the homily for her funeral Mass. 

Nicole LeBlanc is a mother of two baby saints in Heaven. She and her husband, Austin, own and operate an automotive business in Michigan.