We interrupt this regularly scheduled life… with a brain tumor

I honestly feel like I am gonna throw up. My hands are shaking. My face is getting flush. My heart is beating… SO… HARD.

I have avoided writing this post for a little over 4 months. Why? Because writing about it and saying it out load makes me realize two things. 1. I am not dreaming. 2. This is my new normal. That is a hard thing. Really hard.

But how many of you know that we have to do the hard things?

So here we go…..

Saturday mornings are my favorite. My one day that I get to sleep in. Stay under the covers just- a -little- longer. This particular Saturday, December 15th something was stolen from me and not just my sleep. My whole world was turned upside down.

Enter Doug @ 5:30am- “Honey, get up, you have to drive me to the Emergency room, I think I had a stroke.” His whole right arm was numb and he was unable to grasp anything with his hand.( ie: he couldn’t grab his toothbrush let alone hold it.)

I flew out of bed quickly got dressed (because going to the ER in my pj’s isn’t a good idea.) I woke up my oldest, who had just gotten home from college for Christmas break to let her know what was going on. Then Doug and I jumped in the car (literally). I ran every red light and drove as fast as I could without feeling like I was going to kill us or someone else in my race to the hospital. The hospital which was 45 min. away. The longest ride of my life so far. (Little did I know there would be more long rides to come.)

Of course when we arrived they took him right back. (There is a 4 hour window if you suspect you have had a stroke to reverse its affects.) About 6 hours later, after all the blood was taken, the scans were done a doctor walked in and sat down. How many of you know it is not a good sign when the doctor sits down? It is also not a good thing when he begins talking with the phrase “I have some bad news”

“You have a brain tumor”

I can’t tell you everything he said after that point because I mentally emotionally and physically froze. And if I am being honest, parts of me are still frozen today.

The tumor was small. Located on the left side of his brain in the area that affects motor skills on the right side of the body. Thus, the numbness in his arm which was beginning to go to his face.

Enter the neurologist….. ” It is too hard to tell what type of tumor or if it is a tumor at all” “It may be a cavernous hemangioma” Which basically is a mass of blood vessels. Harmless. After 4 days in the hospital, Doug was given medication to help with the numbness and prevent a stroke. We were sent home with instructions. “If your symptoms worsen come immediately to the ER, otherwise we will see you in 4 weeks for a repeat MRI to see if it is growing.” I sighed relief and believed God that it would not be an actual tumor but a mass of blood vessels. That was December 15th 10 days before Christmas.

The next 2 weeks were not easy for me as I tried my best to navigate through the holidays. Keeping a smile on face. Crying when no one was looking. Feeling sick to my stomach with fear & trusting God… at the same time

Christmas came and went and we did our best to live in the moment and ignore the fact that we had this unknown diagnosis hanging over us. About 5 days before New Years Eve Doug’s symptoms began to worsen. He made the decision that instead of waiting the full month he would go to the ER for another MRI now to see what was going on. Thats when we found out the news we didn’t want to hear. The mass had grown and it was indeed a tumor.

How God? How did this happen? I have prayed. Believed. Fell on my face before you. Trusted you?

Even in the midst of my questions God showed up over and over to let us know HE was in control and watching over the whole situation. Genesis 50:20 “What the devil meant for evil, God will use it for good. A nurse who was a Christian taking the time to pray with us. The perfect timing of closing doors to lead to the one perfect door that would open and lead us to the Doctor He had hand picked for us. The timing of a scripture. A worship song on a playlist. He showed up with strength and peace like only He can give. And sunsets like this to remind us of His goodness.

The surgeon was chosen. The date was set. January 9th 2019. I decided to set my mind on this one thing, “we are starting our year with a victory!” In Jesus name! But victory is not a straight line and doesn’t always look and feel the way we planned. But I remind myself, God has a plan.

We went to the hospital crazy early in the morning. (my sister in law came too)(My sister would meet us later) . I love to use humor to relax me and defuse a potential anxious moment. So doug and I played “I would rather” We began to make a list of things we would rather be doing instead of having brain surgery. Having a root canal and giving birth at the same time was at the top of my list. ha!

God was waiting for us with a message when we arrived at the hospital.

We arrived. Checked in. Blood drawn. One final MRI. The doctor came in, colored on Doug’s head and off he went. As I gave Doug one final kiss before they wheeled him back the tears began to flow. There were so many emotions. I felt so weak. So many things I wanted to say. I wasn’t afraid of losing him in the surgery. I had complete peace and confidence that God had him covered. I was afraid though of the diagnosis and what life was going to look like for us. This was our last kiss before our new normal.

Those few hours in the waiting room were long and hard.. I wanted to run. Run away. Far away. Or have someone slap me so I could wake up from this awful dream I was having.

How did we get here.

God gently reminded me.

I can not remember how long the surgery lasted. Honestly, it is all a blur. But I can remember hearing my name being called. My stomach dropping. Hands shaking. Praying. Extreme fear. Trying to whisper a prayer. Jesus.

The doctor gave us the news. He did remove all of the tumor and the surgery went well. Doug was in recovery. The name of the tumor I will not be sharing but the diagnosis was cancer. I dug so deep down in my soul looking for that rock that I have placed my faith in. And then I called our Pastor. I told him the news and asked him one question. “How am I supposed to live the rest of my life” He answered “with diligence” He was so right. I have to live everyday intentionally. With diligence. In Faith. Watching what I think. What I say.

I gave myself a pep talk on that long walk back to the ICU recovery to see him. “Smile when you see him. Whatever you do don’t cry. Be strong.” I was greeted by this when I saw him. He is the most amazing human I know. I am so blessed to call him my husband.

He finally was moved to a regular room early the next morning. He was doing so great. This was the view from the waiting room on his floor. God showed up. Again.

The day after the surgery my oldest daughter on the left) was going back to school. She stopped by the hospital to say goodbye. Emily (right) stayed with us for the day.

He walked in the hospital Wednesday morning. Had a brain tumor removed. He walked out on Thursday night. (He refused to take a wheelchair down to the car.) Yup! You read that right. The next day! Only God could do that.

In case you are curious. Here are is his incision and staples. Amazing and gross at the same time. (I don’t do blood. staples. stitches. Not my thing) 🙂

30 days later we started a 3 week course of Radiation and traditional Chemotherapy. And a couple of weeks after that ended we began a new clinical trial that incorporates immunotherapy.

And now we live. Right here. In this new place. We laugh and we cry. We praise and we fall to our knees. We let the fear come and we shout it down with the word of God. Speaking His promises of peace, comfort, strength and joy. OF HEALING.

If there is one thing I would want to tell you it is this. If you are facing a really, really hard thing, no mater what it is, it is okay to be afraid, doubt, cry and go to your ugly place. But while you are there remember to whisper the name of Jesus. His grace is there to pull you out, cover you with His love and give you the power to walk through your uncertainty.

A Journal entry from January 5, 2019

I am scared. Scared because life has become so uncertain. I feel guilty. Guilty because it seems like I have no faith ~ because I can’t seem to get a hold of myself right now. Lord, please help me to get to a place of trust. Realizing that my rest is not found when I figure my life out but in trusting the one who does. For my good and His glory.

2 Corinthians 4:7b-10 & 18 ~ Our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 8.We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. v18. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.

One last thing…….

Doug does not have cancer. And we are proclaiming God’s promises over his body daily.

Psalm 118:17 He shall live and not die and declare the glorious works of the Lord.

Psalm 91:16 With Long life I will satisfy him , and show him My salvation.

Karensign

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  1. Hi Karen and Doug!
    Thanks Karen for sharing your Authenticity in your journey; your emotions, the challenges and the victories…I praise God FOR the victory!
    Blessings to you and your family

  2. I read your story and was moved by it
    What nomal dont know God is at work every minutes of the day is the real doctor of them all
    God be with you

  3. Priase God and His Glory Karen and DoUg.
    ThAnk you for sharing this powerful journey and trusting your experience to our hearts and souLs.
    We will cover you all in our prayers.
    God bless this road that leaDs you forward.
    Janet