Smith mentally prepared for death.
"But for some reason He was nice enough to leave me here," she said, laughing.
Smith says the doctors did what they could to keep her comfortable. They even tried surgery to repair a huge hole that had opened between her stomach and intestine, but it didn't work. That's when the Franciscan sisters stepped in.
"My friend was sitting in the waiting room with my longtime roommate Pat while I was in surgery," Smith said. "The doctor came in to tell them, 'She is not going to breathe on her own again.' My roommate came in and said goodbye, and then my other friend came in and told her that this lady in the waiting room gave her a prayer card with Mother Marianne on it and suggested they pray for her help.
"They did, and I woke up. I started breathing on my own," Smith said.
The nuns paid regular visits to Smith, who is not Catholic. They kept her company. They prayed with her. They brought her communion. Then Sister Michaeleen Cabral pinned a small plastic bag on Smith's hospital gown. Inside was dirt from around Mother Marianne's grave -- known in the church as a relic.
"When they pinned that relic on me, I started feeling a little better," Smith said. "A little while later, when I opened my eyes, my doctor started pulling out my tubes.
"When he started pulling out the last one, I said to myself, 'This is it.' But instead he said, 'Now I want you to order a sandwich.' I didn't think I heard him right. I hadn't eaten in nine months. I said, 'Are you kidding me?' But he said, 'No, order anything you want to eat. I don't know what happened, but the hole I couldn't fix between your stomach and intestine has healed itself. Your inflammation is gone. You're better.'"
Mother Marianne had helped one last patient.
Smith finally left the hospital in January of 2006. "I had never heard of Mother Marianne before this, but all those prayers with the help of God and Mother Marianne's intercession, I survived," Smith said. "I'm still flabbergasted."
'You are our miracle'
To give back to the sisters who helped her, Smith started regularly volunteering at Francis House, a medical facility the sisters run to care for the terminally ill. Smith spends much of her time there cleaning rooms and visiting patients.
As she walked out of a patient's room one day, she ran into the nun who used to bring her communion at the hospital.
"She said, 'Oh my God, are you the girl I saw in the hospital who was so sick?'" Smith said. "I thought Sister Michaeleen was going to pass out.
"She told me, 'You've got to see Sister Mary Laurence. You are our miracle. I know you are.' They dragged me up to Sister Mary Laurence, who was amazed. They thought they had their miracle."
And so it was, the Catholic Church concluded. After multiple doctors examined her medical records and could find no other explanation, the case went on to Pope Benedict XVI. In December 2011 he announced Mother Marianne would become a saint.
This weekend, Mahoney and Smith are both at the Vatican for the canonization service. Smith will present Pope Benedict XVI with a cross that contains a dirt relic from Mother Marianne's grave. To this day, Smith wonders why she has been chosen to be a part of something so big.
"I can't imagine that someone like me would experience a miracle. I'm an ordinary person," Smith said. "But the sisters explained that's who God and the saints use."
Sister Burkard is at the Vatican, as well.
"Every time I think about the large banner with her image that will hang on the Vatican for the ceremony, I get chills," she said.
"People tend to think of saints as these very special otherworldly people, but so much of (Mother Marianne's) life parallels so many other good people we know today," Burkard said.
"She probably could have done anything with her natural talents for leadership and organization, but she chose to make the world a better place. She would not let people's fear determine what she did or how people should be treated.
"She is a wonderful example for these difficult times. She gave people that others feared hope. She restored their dignity. That is the path she chose to walk."