I never in a million years would have chosen to write a brain tumor into my story. And yet I would never write it out.
It is part of who I am and I would not be who I am today without that chapter. It took months of doctors visits and tests and a whole lot of people thinking I was making it all up, but eventually June 30, 2010 came and with it came a diagnosis.
At the age of 17, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was the size of a golf ball.
We finally had an answer. One would think I would be emotional, a basket case, but I surprised even myself. I cried only twice – once when my mom cried at the news and again in the hospital from the pain after surgery. God had prepared me in so many different ways and I knew He wasn’t going anywhere.
Quite honestly, the news of a tumor wasn’t scary. It was a relief. After months of doctors visits, blood work, and many days of unexplainable sickness, we finally had an answer. I wasn’t thankful for the tumor, but I was extremely grateful to simply know. To not have to wonder anymore. To no longer look back at the doctors and say “I promise, something is wrong and I’m not making this up. You’ve got to figure it out.” One week later, on July 6, 2010, I had brain surgery. A few weeks after I got the (amazing) news that I was cancer free!
It’s been several years now and while it isn’t a part of daily conversation by any means, it will always be a part of me. Because I’ve been blogging for several years, I blogged through the health journey. I have never been one to be short of words, and although there are many of them written on this chapter of my story, I’m grateful to have them to reflect back on. I’m thankful for the Story He has given me to tell.
If you’d like the read the longer version of my health story, simply continue reading below. Because yes, I like to use all the words. You’re welcome.
When I wrote my first post after being sick, I had no idea the journey I was in for. We thought I simply had food poisoning since I had worked the previous evening and had eaten dinner there. Exactly three weeks later it happened again, then two weeks later, and on and on.
When it became every week they had me get my blood taken and I was hopeful they would find something. That was the day I found out blood work and I do not mix. At all. I kinda maybe sorta passed out.
The blood work results came back normal and the doctor told me I was faking everything. You can imagine has pleased I was to hear this. Ahem.
When the sickness continued, I was given the option of getting an MRI or a spinal tap. Now I’m not a medical student but I’ve watched enough Grey’s Anatomy that I know this: choose the MRI. Every time, choose the MRI.
I had an MRI on Tuesday night and was scheduled to come back to the doctor on Thursday for the results. But then they called Wednesday and I knew something had to be very wrong.
After finding about the tumor, I wrote my first post with all the thoughts. To go back and read it now is just the weirdest… but I am so glad to have these words.
In between the diagnosis and the surgery I wrote a few posts and updates, one of them simply declaring how God is so good. Still. Always. Forever. (Even with a brain tumor diagnosis.)
Surgery was scheduled for Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 7:15am. I wrote a short post the night before, not knowing if it would be my last post or not, but certain that God would get the glory. I was able to write from the hospital after surgery and went home on Saturday. Which is basically crazy.
A while later I was able to write a post with the words “boo yah” because NO CANCER ALERT. Praise.
Once I felt up to it, I wrote out as much as I could remember from the day I found out the news. It’s a hard one for me to re-read, but another post I’m so glad to have.
In September of 2010 I got sick again and faced the guilt of the cost of surgery, but eventually I began to share my health story with strangers. In May of 2011 I found out I had eye problems, possibly related to surgery, and would likely be diagnosed with glaucoma later on in life. Still, though, it’s nothing compared to what could have been!
I wrote about it again exactly one year after surgery. I was fine. I was good. Health wise, I really was doing well. I left for college and purposely chose to not tell anyone about the tumor. I know that sounds ridiculous… but I wanted them to like me for me, not out of sympathy for the road I had walked. I was tired of being looked at with pity.
And then things went wrong. Real wrong. I would find myself sitting in class as a freshman in college and suddenly everything would go black. I couldn’t see a thing and the first time it happened I thought someone turned the lights out as a joke. Except no one was laughing.
It happened again and again – always in class – and as pinpricks of light would come back I would stare at the notes I had been taking until the swirls became letters and everything was clear again. I was so scared to tell anyone. After all, no one at school knew my health story and my parents were hours away, unable to help. My scan from a few months prior had shown that something was in my brain that shouldn’t be there. Which, as I’m sure you can imagine, was super comforting.
My neurosurgeon had decided to wait until summer to do anything and so of course, these “black outs” freaked me out. But time passes and summer came… the scans showed absolutely nothing wrong! I’ve been dizzy countless times in the past years. It has affected my life in so many ways. But thankfully I haven’t had another “black out” since!
Three years after surgery, I wrote these words:
I bear the scar of something that humanly seems terrible, but it is a scar that tells of His goodness, pointing the glory right back up to Him.
And then four years after surgery, these words:
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 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?
And now, five years later, I want to tell you I am good. I am so good. Sometimes I still get dizzy and have terrible headaches. Some days the scar aches. But 99% of the days are good ones. I realize that so many people aren’t able to say that, and I cannot figure out why I have been blessed and given the opportunity to live this story. But I am so thankful for it.
He has healed me in so many ways and to tell the story is to tell of HIS faithfulness and His goodness. I’m learning to dance and live and breathe with the scar un-hidden. Because scars can be beautiful. Scars are signs of survival and so I am finding the beauty underneath.
I’ve parted my hair in front of thousands and I’ve let it show, this piece of me that can look so ugly but tells such a story of glory. Because He does miracles and He can do anything, including turning a mess into a masterpiece and a scar into a story of blessing.
Thanks for sharing your experience! :)
What a lovely story of God’s mercy and grace! Scars are a testimony to His goodness in our lives. And He has been good to you! Thank you for sharing. May you always be so blessed that it overflows to those around you, both in ministry online and in person.
Thank you for turning your experience into a wonderful testimony for our Lord’s goodness and grace. Your parents much be proud of the wonderful young woman you are, and thankful to still have you in their lives.
Thankful for you and that God made you a woman of words. Your story tells His, on so many levels, and He’s just begun to use you for His glory. A blessing to know you.
What a powerful story! Are you a fan of Mandisa? Her songs, Stronger and Overcomer are two of my favorites. And she has one called “What Scars Are For” that I love too. Keep pressing on! I know God is so so proud! Blessings!
Scars ARE signs of survival! My husband actually has a port in his head that we affectionally call the ‘Nike bump pump.’ I’m so glad you’re well and thriving.