The next chapter

It’s been a while since I wrote. It’s not for lack of wanting to, but since surgery that left hand thing is legitimately frustrating.

First, if you aren’t following along with our medical updates, we are posting more of the medical journey updates on CaringBridge. This is the best way to get real-time updates on prayer needs and other updates/medical needs as we go through this. For those of you who want all the fun medical stuff, check out that site. There’s more details about the surgery itself and some of the challenges we’ve faced along the way with recovery, too.

Medically, surgery was as successful as our sweet neurosurgeon wanted it to be. My tumor was 90% in my right parietal lobe (specifically the somatosensory cortex) and 10% in my primary motor cortex. The part in my primary motor cortex remains. While there are surgeries that can be done to remove this, it’s not something they do while you’re asleep (and more specifically my doctor does not do awake craniotomies). Lots of details here if you’re interested in the breakdown.

This post isn’t about the recovery process though. You can read all those updates on caringbridge if you’re interested. What this is about is our next chapter.

We knew going into this surgery that our doctor had preliminarily diagnosed our tumor as a grade 2 malignant glioma. It had likely been there for years, laying dormant. A car wreck had exposed it and brought December 26th to sharp reality that we were likely facing a cancer diagnosis. Since then, I’ve had so many emotions. Am I dying? Am I leaving my husband without a wife? How do we write wills? What about school tuition? How do I ensure things are taken care of? Will I die in surgery? If I can’t take care of things, what happens next? Will I lose my job? Will I be the same? What if I fail?

The truth to all of that is that these are human emotions. And since my car accident, God has shown up repeatedly. February 19th, we asked for people to come to church with us and pray. And God brought them. My church and friends surrounded me, laid hands on me, and I cried. I was scared, but strong. I was worried, but comfortable. I felt God’s presence as I listened to children pray over me and as I heard my pastor tell others how hard it was NOT to see God in this as he had since the very beginning.

The most awesome thing about all of this is that God has been so clear in His plan. I did not feel for one minute we would walk away from this without some type of story God was trying to tell. I knew God was going to take this journey and blow it up much bigger than I could imagine. He hasn’t brought me out of the storm. As a matter of fact, He has me right in the deepest parts of it.

The day of surgery, specifically at 7:50 AM, one of the moms at MCA called me with 40 3rd graders on the phone to pray over me. It was at that time that 2 nurses in the room, 2 anesthesia consultants and someone else were talking to me about risk, my husband and our pastor was there and the reality that I could die set in. I tried to keep it together, but fear absolutely took over and I tried to breathe and realized I could be saying goodbye. Breathing is a chore when you’re thoughts are racing and it was the first time I took a deep breath and told God to step in and breathe for me. Shortly after that, they started rolling me back and I knew at this point, God took over. I wasn’t at peace, but I had a sense of “this isn’t going to stop and I’ve got it from here” come over me. If you want the full story of OR lights and the 30 people in what felt like a small room, ask me sometime. It might make you never want to have brain surgery. But, God met me in that OR. And when I came to at the end, the anesthesiologist asked me if I could hear him and I remember the tears in my eyes as I proclaimed, “Praise God!” My first words – and I remember looking up and realizing God performed that surgery. No one else.

God has met me every step of the way. He hasn’t cured me. But He has met me at every step.

Last week, we received the news that we were expecting. The tumor in my brain was confirmed as Grade 2 cancer, Specifically an oligodendroglioma. Do yourself a favor, don’t google the statistics on that. Google isn’t favorable of statistics and I haven’t painted God into a box. We knew walking into this that the tumor would regrow. We also knew walking into this that there are things we can do to slow down regrowth. There are more surgeries we can have if needed. There are IDH inhibitors in clinical trials. There are supplements. There are chemo and radiation options depending on regrowth location (no radiation can be done on the primary motor cortex for what’s left as that is really dangerous). But more importantly, we knew walking into this that our faith can heal us and that God is still in the miracle business. And while God doesn’t heal everyone’s illness, the miracles He can perform through our stories is ENDLESS and we should be marveled at the story we are sharing in as part of HIS love. God DOES love us. Immensely. And all He wants is for us to worship and love Him. But He won’t force us. He has given us free will.

But, even in sharing this cancer diagnosis, we aren’t scared. I absolutely rest (as my husband and kids do) in God’s plan. There is SO MUCH that God can do. For years, that tumor laid dormant and this could be enough to awaken my brain and things freak out and start fighting it. Likewise, new treatments can happen. Or better yet, God can decide to tell a huge story of healing along the way and use our story to save HUNDREDS of souls. That’s kind of the cool thing about God. He can take something devastating like cancer and use it for GOOD.

The conversations we have had with our children, with each other, and with other believers and non-believers is intentional and purposeful. Sometimes, we are the ONLY Bible someone reads. We should make sure we are reflection of His great and unfailing love.

Richard and I spent a lot of time in recovery learning that God expects our trust and faith in Him. Before we got back into church, we battled with so much. I am confident that if God can pull us through that and those lows and we come out on top with a super cool story to tell, God can take a teeny tiny tumor and make a pretty cool story out of it. You would not believe the number of people who saw me at church on Sunday surprised to see me there on day 4 post-op. There are going to be hard days. Not every day is going to be easy. I’ve battled some pretty hard emotions coming out of surgery. I’m so grateful to be alive. I am so grateful to be used by God who has personally pulled my life out of millions of souls and say, “I’m going to use this for my Kingdom.” It’s an honor. It’s not fun, but how cool to be chosen to share a story by the very Father who breathed life into me?

The reality is, our days are all numbered. God will call us home when our tasks are complete. This is something that we tell our kids often – and this is a conversation we’ve had a LOT more lately, too. Being called home is like taking a pause in the conversation. You know the kind. Think about a bad cell phone signal. You lose connection for one second until you hit that next cell tower when the conversation picks back up. Leaving earth is a lot like that. You take one breath here and the next breath is standing in Heaven. Likely without being able to speak and just in awe.

So for now, we move forward. God has the next chapter planned out and we will walk faithfully in His plan. Whether that is for days, weeks, months or years. We will ask how we are to use this diagnosis to grow and further His kingdom. And we will love like we are not promised the next breath.

We love you all,

Kristin and Richard

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