Somewhere around the middle of 2012 was when I first began to realize that something might be wrong. There were no major symptoms, but just a series of incidents that were significant enough to begin to cause some concern, such as some memory loss, a couple of severe headaches, and a dizzy spell or two that all seemed unusual. From the very beginning, God’s hand was amazingly evident in every detail! First of all, our family has a friend who is a neurologist, and she was the one who, after hearing about the incidents I had, was able to get me a referral to see a neurologist in Des Moines in early October. He did an EEG and an MRI, which revealed a small mass in my right temporal lobe that was causing some minor seizure-like activity in my brain. He was of the opinion that it needed to be removed, even though it appeared benign, and he referred me to Dr. Matt Howard at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City, because of the world-class excellence of the neurosurgery department there. I first saw him on October 22, and he was able to get me scheduled me for surgery on November 14. God graciously allowed me to continue teaching right up until the day before my surgery and make preparations for my aid, who took over the classroom in my absence. Shari was another clear evidence of God’s sovereign provision, since she has been a part of our classroom since the beginning of the year and works wonderfully well with the kids!
The surgery lasted 7 hours and went very well, however they had to leave a small part of the tumor, because it was located so near to the brain stem. We had been told that very likely I would have to do further treatment at some point or possibly have another surgery later in the future. I was released from the hospital 4 days after surgery and permitted to go to Ankeny (where my family lives) for the recovery time. God’s timing was so perfect, as the time recommended for recovery took me right up to Christmas break, and it was such a blessing to be able to be with my family during that time!
When the pathology report came back, I was told that it was the best possible news I could have received! Not only was the tumor benign, but amazingly they do not believe that I will ever have to worry about it again, even though they couldn’t remove it entirely! I was totally overwhelmed by God’s goodness and mercy in giving me such complete healing! The prayers of so many people on my behalf during this time were truly humbling and encouraging, and it was wonderful to be able to share this news, for when many people pray, many thanks can be rendered to God for His answer!
As I daily recovered my strength, it was great to be able to resume more and more normal activities, and when school started back up in January, I was able to go back to teaching. It really only took about a week before I really felt like I was back into the swing of things, and in fact, in many ways I felt even better than I had before the surgery! God has continued to give me many opportunities to share what He did through all of this, and to Him be all the glory for everything, for He is truly sovereign in every detail of life and wonderfully good in everything that He allows! I would not trade this experience, because I learned so much through it – especially about what the Body of Christ looks like when it is truly functioning as God intends it to, the nearness of God that we can most fully experience when we are hurting the most or feeling the most needy, and His absolute sovereignty in every detail of our lives! I praise Him for entrusting me with this small trial, so that I can be better able to be an encouragement to others with the same comfort that God gave to me during this time! One of the verses that became especially precious to me through all this is Psalm 59:16 – “I will sing of Your strength and will joyfully proclaim Your faithful love in the morning. For You have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble.” Truly, God is my strength, my joy, and my refuge, and life’s trials only serve to make that truth more real and more precious than ever!