My story is one that no one ever wants as their own, yet many would give their right arm for.
There isn’t a soul who wants to be diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of seventeen, but there are plenty of people who are praying and pleading for a miracle and the news that their body – or the body of their spouse, child, parent, or friend – is free of cancer.
Both of those lines are a piece of my story, and if I’m being really honest I don’t always know how to reconcile the two.
I never wanted a brain tumor, of course. But I’m thankful I had one. Not for the pain or the surgery, the cost or the worried looks on the faces I love. But I am grateful for the lessons He taught me and the way He healed me.
I’m thankful that a brain tumor was written into the pages of my story.
I’m thankful for the song He gave me during that time.
I’m thankful for the verse that became “mine.”
I’m thankful for July 6, 2010 and the hands of a skilled surgeon.
I’m thankful for the news that I didn’t have cancer.
More than anything, I want my story to always reflect The Story and the One holding the pen. I want my history to be His legacy, my life shining only one Name.
The truth of the brain tumor is something I live with every day – but it’s not a story I tell very often. It has simply become a piece of who I am.
Almost everyone I know is aware of this chapter in my life, and my closest friends have heard many of the details. This is not something I hide, but it also is not a part of me that I hang on the front door of my heart.
It is personal to me and I long to carry this story well. I desire so deeply to share His joy and love with the world. He has healed me in more ways than one, and the scar on the back of my head only tells a piece of the story.
I can not – will not – apologize for the place my hair no longer grows. The night before leaving for Haiti, one of my sweet friends was playing with my hair. I could feel her fingers coming close to the scar. Later that night I texted her and awkwardly said, “PS for all future reference, there’s a scar and it’s not pretty but I love it. But one of these days you’ll probably find it playing with my hair. So like, heads up 7up, whoop there it is.”
“I found it. I love it too.”
I wrote back about how the piece she had been playing with hadn’t even been there three years ago, and how God had been so good to give me this story.
Last month on vacation, I asked this beautiful friend to braid my hair. Knowing she had never seen the scar, I tried to casually warn her that it was there but that I wasn’t going to apologize for it, since it tells His story.
She interrupted me with just one word. “Good.”
Good that I won’t apologize for it. Because why would I ever silence the story or quiet my lips or muffle the grace of He Who is faithful?
There have been other scares and more MRI’s than I ever wished to have. I’ve been poked and prodded and put under. There are tests and scans of my brain and they’ll all tell the same story: I was broken and I have been healed.
But that story was already mine long before an early July morning rid me of a brain tumor.
My soul knew the truth: He came because He loved me. He died because He loved me. And He lives to make every promise true.
He is alive and I am alive in Him – no matter my physical diagnosis.
My story includes a chapter titled July 6, 2010, but it’s actually His Story.
I just get to tell it.
And although I love it and am grateful to live each day soaking it in – the smell of grass and the sound of a baby’s laugh, and all of the countless little things I never want to take for granted again – when I’m real honest there are days that I sit and struggle.
I wrestle with the fact that I’m alive and countless others with the same diagnosis are not.
With every check-up I walk the hospital halls and purposely look at the faces of the children and parents sitting in the waiting room, praying they would receive the same news that I did four years ago.
Soon after surgery, I went through a season of pain and wondering over why I was healed. With every piece of me, I was grateful. And with every piece of me, I asked “why me?”
Why was I healed and not someone else? Why do little children have to experience the deep physical pain that I went through?
I remember laying in the hospital bed thanking Him over and over that He allowed me to carry a brain tumor instead of a young child. I whispered it to Him again and again, “At least I understand why this hurts. Oh, all these littles that I pass in the halls – how can they understand the throbbing inside? Thank you that it’s me. Thank you that it’s me. Thank you that it’s me.”
I whisper it again every time I return.
When I was teaching my legs to walk again, I made it around the nurses desk and was doing my best to go all the way down the hall. As I went to turn left, I moved over to avoid walking into a little boy on my right. His entire head was covered in gauze and I could barely keep from throwing up, much less keep the tears from leaking and my feet moving.
He was so little.
And so I’ve carried with me the pain and the healing, the wonderings and the gratefulness, and all of it is mixed together into the story He has given me to share.
I don’t know why He chose to write this into my history, and I surely cannot understand all the “whys” – but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I trust the One who is writing every story.
Even the story of the little boy on the right side of the hallway.
I will never see him again, but every time I walk those halls I pray for the ones waiting for results and asking for healing. I read the emails and the tweets about another brain tumor diagnosis and my stomach aches.
All I know to do is pray.
There is nothing else.
There is nothing but Jesus and He is Healer.
So today, on this fourth year of physical healing, I am praising Him for the only healing that could ever set me free. I am nothing without Him and my only boast is found in the One who is freedom.
I have been healed physically – and because many have asked, yes, my MRI scans came back clean earlier this month – but I praise Him most for the healing that really matters.
Please, pause for just a minute or two and give thanks to the Author and Healer. And then pray for those who are still in the chapter of asking and hoping.
Pray for the littles who cannot possibly understand why their head hurts. Pray for the parents who can do nothing but sit by the bedside. Pray that human medicine will be an instrument that leads to true healing.
And then count the gifts. List them and write each one down, all the small ways He is loving you each day.
You’ll never be able to count them all.
Today I am adding #1246 to my never-ending, ever-growing list of thanks:
Four pictures, four sets of 365 days that tell the story of His healing. The story is mine but the glory is His.
I am more grateful than words can say for the healing He has given me, and as I type I can only ask for grace over this jumbled string of words. There have been serious times of wondering but they do not stand when held against His absolute truth and faithfulness. I may never understand and likely I will not, but I know that He is good in all things, at all times, in all ways – and so I write today for a fourth year and the only two words that matter are thank you.
Related: My Health Story