Thanks Again


(ref: Luke 17: 11-19)

Ten lepers were healed

By Christ’s words that day.

He said, “You are new,”

And sent them away.

They danced and they sang

With their limbs now anew.

Showed friends their new health

And all they could do

One returned thanks,

The others took for granted;

But Jesus gave freely

His gifts not recanted.

Sorrows and distraction

Pull focus of our eyes

Pirating the gratitude

For blessings realized.

Lord, help me to be

The one of the ten

Who thinks to come back

and say, “thank you,” again.

-Terri Brady

May God bless you with much, and may you bless Him with thanks.

– Terri

Luke 17:17-19 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Good Grief

Dear Lindsey,

Two new holes were left in my heart this past winter, and last weekend represented the first events where these loved ones “would have been there.”  I had been dreading the events without them.

First, I lost my 42-year-old brother, Mike, (from Colorado) completely unexpectedly, after his medication cocktail (due to back pain) proved lethal. Weeks later, my dear friend Jackie Lewis (from Michigan)– also unexpectedly – went to be with the Lord at age 32 after a short week’s illness.

When my uncle, Buck Seitz, received France’s Legion of Honor medal in Denver, CO, last week it was the first time that I was at a family event…without Mike. Afterward, I flew out of Denver, directly to Florida, for a business event. It was at this business convention where Jackie and I would have shared the stage at night, sat together by the pool during the day, or been boating in the ocean together as in past years.

It brought to me an irony of grief: “good grief,” I guess you could call it.

Beginning (every day) with the end in mind has been an effort of mine for years. Physical

Mike Estes …...1971 - 2014

Mike Estes ……1971 – 2014

death is not “unexpected,” as no one has avoided it as of yet. And when I know heaven awaits for those who trust solely in the Lord Jesus, I would want it to hasten its call for believers. That is the “good” part of the grief. But oh, how it aches to have that hole in my heart of one that once was here…not here anymore. To know my lifetime ahead will happen absent of these loved ones cuts deeply into me, and even more deeply when I look at the children and spouses, and those closer to the deceased than I.

The degree of grief has taken so many different forms within me. I am no psychology major, but I know that what I experienced is probably not unique to me alone.


The depth of raw heartache cannot be described. What once was…no longer is. There is nothing I can do to change it for the future. There is nothing I can do to change any past, although with these two, there was nothing I would have changed. If my mind ever wanders from the sorrow, something comes to remind me of it: a waiter named Mike, a bookmark bearing Jackie’s signature, a song that instigates a flash flood of tears. It is amazing to me how I see the resemblance of their faces in SO many people – like a mirage due to a deep longing to see them again.  My heart skips a beat when I see a red head. (They both were.)

Pure Joy:

I say, “pure,” because it is the true sense of the word.  Joy: that despises

Jackie Lewis 1981- 2014

Jackie Lewis 1981- 2014

circumstances. My pure joy: in knowing that Jackie is with her Savior in heaven. There is no more crying, no more pain, no need to wait for a sun to brighten her day, because the eternal Light is always there.  There is such pure joy in knowing that she finished her life at such a peak. Her husband raves about their marriage  –which gives me joy to thank God for the timing of her death to be at such a high! She was a speaker on stages across the country, and her desire for excellence was an influence on thousands of lives to live better.  The wrinkle fairy had not yet waved her wand in Jackie’s direction. Haha! She was beautiful, so beautiful. Her love for the Lord exuded her being in all that she did, and her testimony video was recorded just this year. What a high! I have a joy in knowing that although the dash between her birth-date and her death-date was too short for my liking, its brevity is what interested tens of thousands to watch her story, which could have eternally impacted them. I have joy in knowing that though 32 years seems so short, and I wish she had lived to be 105, I can look at the grand scheme of tens of thousands of years in eternity, and the difference in a few decades on earth is so, so small.


I know some experience guilt after the death of someone due to words that were said, or not said… Visits that were not made… Time that had passed taking for granted the love and friendship of the newly deceased. Those feelings hopefully spur us to be reminded of the preciousness and finiteness of time with loved ones.  But my guilt was different. It was as though every smile I gave brought with it a weight. Wasn’t I sad? Does my brother know I miss him? If I smile, will he think I don’t? What about other friends and family – am I offending them if I smile when they are not? I know it’s a strange subliminal guilt – my brother cannot “think” anything anymore. He is gone. But inside me, there is a pang, like a weight from below that feels good and right being sad, and guilty being happy. This “guilt” is probably most dangerous, because it is not from God. He is the one who allowed a weight to lift…and probably listened to the prayers of many to give me that moment of lifted weight…and yet I sometimes regretfully have given the unfounded guilt power in my day. I tend to think I need to “justify” my happiness, “Well, Jackie would have loved that I can laugh at this video now.” Or “Mike would have been laughing with me at this.” That justification may be true, but I just don’t want to miss the opportunity to say instead, “Thank you, God, for making the sun rise on my life again, because that night was long.”

Wanting to hide/avoid:

This part of grief seemed to have an undaunted allure. Do I have to attend that event? Everyone will be looking at me to see how I am handling it. What if there are expectations of how I am supposed to “look” and “act” in mourning? There will be others there grieving; I hate to look at others and see the pain I know will be in their eyes from their loss.   Events with people who didn’t know the deceased were even more difficult: it seemed disrespectful to be with people who didn’t even know or care about the ones I miss so deeply. My local church family didn’t know or love my brother. Couldn’t I use a few more hours of sleep? Couldn’t the world just turn without me for a while? I am hurting.

Doubt (with a capital “D”):

Have you ever prayed so intensely that it hurt? Physically, hurt? Have you ever lost entire nights of sleep or days of meals while praying for someone’s life to be saved? Have you ever visualized the victory so deeply, that you almost forgot whether the prayers had been answered yet or not, because you trusted that much that victory was imminent? Have you ever felt like you sweat blood?

Have you ever prayed that much and God still answered, “no.”

And that was His “final answer.”

Not, “No, check back with me next week.”

Not, “Wait… I like how you are depending on Me. Keep depending on Me. Let Me work on it.”

Just, “No.”

“She’s gone.”

Or “We lost him.”

Did you ever go back and doubt that your hours upon hours of fervent prayers were even heard?

I have.

Is doubt sin?  YES

Am I proud?  NO

The Bible talks about doubt:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. James 1:5-8”

But there was a time a few years ago when I doubted my prayers were heard, and I am ashamed. I have to tell you a little secret though:

I told God about it.

A. Weatherell Johnson, in her autobiography, Created for Commitment had this to say about a time of doubt in her life:

“I went to God and bluntly said, ‘God, I’m sorry but I don’t believe You always answer prayer.’ Immediately after I had spoken those words aloud, I corrected them. ‘God, I do believe but I don’t understand.’ God then gave me His loving assurance. He said, ‘My child, wait for Me. I have not finished.’ My very voicing of unbelief (to God alone) delivered me. I started to praise Him.”

Reading that, I remembered my own gut-wrenching tearful surrender that was so similar.

However, since answers to prayers do not always take the same shape of the mirages I have created, I believe we have to have the attitude my friend Diana had when she admittedly felt like prayers bounced off the ceiling back to the sickbed where she lay.

“I don’t understand, but I trust.”

The truth of the matter is that we cannot be afraid to speak out our doubts honestly, and immediately to the Lord. The very voicing of the sin can deliver us from it. How can a drowning victim be saved if she won’t admit she’s drowning? Besides, do we think He doesn’t already know our heart?  Do we think He doesn’t see behind the fig leaves with which we cover?  Are we surprised when He asks, “Who told you that you were naked?” (Gen 3:11) He already knows.

Jesus, Himself, prayed for His circumstances to change so earnestly that His sweat was like drops of blood, (Luke 22:44) yet He humbly submitted when God said, “no,” so His life was used to save mine.

The Lord holds our tears in a bottle. (Ps 56:8)

If we can just …hold on to Him a little while longer. (Haggai 2:6-7)

When God Says, “No”

Just recently, Pastor Stephen Davey shared about the topic, “When the Answer is No.” (I love it when I have a blog half-written and someone else covers the exact topic!) You can read his message: here or listen to the audio here.

He taught five components to our response to God when He answers “no” to our fervent prayers. We should respond with humility, gratitude, surrender, praise and readiness.

The Bible is clear that there is a time for mourning, a time for tears. (Ecc 3:4) Even Jesus wept at the loss of his friend.  (John 11:35)

And yet, the fact that Ecclesiastes says, “there is a time,” to me, says that the time is finite. It ends. Yes, I will miss these loved ones, but there is more.  There is more to come in this life than mourning….when I respond with humility – recognizing that my desires do not include the whole world like God’s desires do. When I respond with gratitude – recognizing that the fact I miss these loved ones means I have some memories for which to be thankful. When I respond with surrender – recognizing that I am not in control…and really never was. When I respond with praise – recognizing that I do LOVE the One who IS in control. And when I respond with readiness – recognizing that there is more to come. This is not the end.  I want to be ready to serve the Lord as Jackie was, to spread laughter as Mike would have done.

Just wait, there’s more.

I once heard it said, “Everything will be all right in the end; and if it is not all right, it is not the end.”

Girlfriend, it is not the end. Last weekend as I lived without these two was a sort of victory for me. It wasn’t the end! Yes, I cried again… at the loss… and the change… and the grief of continuing life without them. (I even held my brother’s newborn granddaughter, whom he never met.)  But the victory was in the ability to say, “I am ready, God.  I don’t understand, but I trust.”  I guess that is the good that gets squeezed out of the grief.

“Good” grief!  I couldn’t have said those words together a few short weeks ago. But God knew the day would come.

The world still turns, even though there was a time when its turning seemed impossible.  As I shared at Jackie’s funeral, I feel like God is holding on to my heart, saying, “Just wait. There’s more…”

May we heal through worshipping Him in a real relationship, no holds barred, no doubts hidden, in real communion, as we wait on His “more” to come.

“The difference between waiting on God and wrestling with God is worship.” – Stephen Davey in Nehemiah: Memoirs of an Ordinary Man


– Terri Brady

Related Posts


Psalm 42:3-4 says:  My tears have been my food

day and night,

while people say to me all day long,

“Where is your God?”

These things I remember

as I pour out my soul:

how I used to go to the house of God

under the protection of the Mighty Oned

with shouts of joy and praise

among the festive throng.

Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part III

For those who are just joining, it may be helpful to READ FIRST:

Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part I and

Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part II

Dear Lindsey,

In some ways, 2008 seems like yesterday, but as I recall my history, it seems like a whole different lifetime. As I said in part I and II of this letter, headaches led to MRI’s which revealed a tumor. Although the tumor seemed unrelated to the location of the pain, its speed of growth required surgical removal. When it rains it pours, and so did other “unrelated” health issues of skin cancer, a noise in my ear and swallowing problems which led to coughing issues…but the brain surgery took priority.

My story continues…

The Two Weeks

For the two weeks before surgery, anxiety woke me daily before my alarm.  My 5am quiet times would finish with the Lord’s arms around me like a warm blanket on a frosty morning. (Thanks, Alice Doan, a woman of our church for praying that to happen.)

I was already scheduled to speak in Phoenix, AZ and Louisville, KY those two weekends. I know anyone would have understood if I had decided to cancel due to impending brain surgery, but what happened in those two weeks was a wonderful alignment of priorities.

What is important now?” dominated my thinking.

If I were truly given only two weeks left to live, what would I do? The song says, “I’d go skydiving; Rocky Mountain climbing; ride a bull…” but none of that came to mind.

Although I think the chances of handicapping my voice were greater than the chance of death (The surgeon had said he wouldn’t come close to the life-threatening vein.), it brought the urgency of life to a head, as well as the momentousness of the ability to use my voice.  I wanted to live my life on purpose, and I felt like my message to the stadiums those two weekends was my purpose, or I would never have scheduled to leave my children, even before the diagnosis.

Each weekend, I changed my originally planned speech and told of the upcoming surgery and the heaven that awaited for those who have faith in Jesus Christ – whether the finish line would be October 15 or any time before or after.

During this time, the news of a fatal car accident jarred me to remember that we are all dying. EVERY day is a day that may be the end of our “dash”, and priorities should be lived as such, impending surgery or not.

Telling the Kids

The moment I dreaded had arrived: we needed to tell the kids.  We knew we had one promise we could make: not “Mom will be ok,” nor, “It will be just like always,” but that God is in control.

Pride of being a mother is a difficult thing to fight. Feeling the heavy weight of responsibility yet keeping perspective that if God chooses, it will be relinquished in a moment can only be accomplished by surrender. I surrendered (again) that I was not the one taking care of my children; God was.  If He chose for me to reach my finish line during brain surgery, my children would still be in His care.

True surrender is the most humble act.  I would have told you I surrendered when I was led to Christ at the age of thirteen. Again, a deeper surrender occurred when I “lost control” (which of course was never mine to begin with!) during infertility challenges.  I have often surrendered during my battles with pride.  But I had never before completely surrendered to the thought that the world would just keep turning in my absence. After a funeral and time, hearts who may have missed me would heal, and life would continue as it was…without me.  The church would find another musician; friends would get back to laughing; business would grow. I am the proverbial pea in the ocean. God’s ocean. Removing me was not a big deal. I suppose that is the humility with which we should live at all times, but nothing brought this to realization like a life-threatening storm.

We told the kids the good news: they would get to stay with friends, and then we told them the bad news. Chris grimly went through the recovery information, and the risk, and we prayed as a family. Within ten seconds of the word, “amen,” Nathaniel (8) said, “Can I tell you about the Scooby Doo movie now?!”

I know his comment frustrated my husband who wanted more concern, but the child’s words were a little note from Above: the kids would be fine.

To the Hospital

After a party for my daughter’s 5th birthday the day before, I wrote a little post on a blog my brother Tim had set up to give friends and family updates during my surgery. (The blog has since been deleted (after we printed it), because it wasn’t renewed.  There were more prayers/ comments in 10 days of that blog, than there have been on Letters to Lindsey since it began 15 months ago!)

I had indescribable peace as we made the two-hour trek to the hospital.  I was no longer preparing a basket with pitch and hyssop (from my Basket Case letter), but like baby Moses, I was riding inside, waiting to see where the Lord would have the water take me.  I decided everyone’s prayers were like a river on which I floated. So many prayers were said for the surgery, I bet Chris could have performed it! (but I opted for the surgeons instead.)

I believe PEACE comes from knowing that in all outcomes: God is in control. Thoughts at the time, while reading Trusting God (Bridges) were:

      • God is in control if I am healed completely.
      • God is still in control if I have nerve damage and live a life as handicapped. (Ask Joni Eareckson Tada if she agrees.)
      • God is still in control if I have reached my finish line; it would be heaven. Heaven is the finish line no matter what happens to my today.

First Surgery and a Friend’s Call, October 14

The first surgery on the 14th went better than planned; the arterial scope revealed there was no need for embolization to stave bleeding…answered prayer! Because of that, I was able to stay in a regular room and have one less night of ICU.

That night, while lying flat in bed as directed, I received a call from a friend who could hardly speak as she cried, “I don’t know if I know how to pray, but I just need to know, Terri, if I pray for you tonight, will God save you?”

Seeing her in her humble state, asking of the Lord for possibly the first time, I replied, “I don’t know if He will save me here, but I know if you pray to Him tonight, He will save YOU for eternity.”

She and I prayed together on the phone from my hospital bed, as I felt her come to the knowledge of what it means to be a sinner who is completely forgiven and saved by Christ.

Chris and my brother Tim visited with me before heading to their hotel, and I waited for the morning. I glowed with the joy that only comes from knowing a soul will be with me in eternity.

TT bed

Today’s the Day, October 15th

The morning of surgery, I sat up in bed and posted a favorite hymn on the surgery blog:

Day by day and with each passing moment

Strength I find to meet my trials here

Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment

I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.

When rolling my bed to surgery that morning, one of the medical students said to me, “I can’t believe you have such peace about this!”

It was ironic that this guy who was probably used to trying to calm people’s nerves was trying to figure out mine. “I need not worry about tomorrow, God is already there,” I quoted a favorite saying. I knew I was in my proverbial “basket floating down the river,” – two IV’s, arterial lines, tubes coming out of every angle and all. Like baby Moses, I was secured by God’s plan, waiting to wake up 2 to 14 hours later, to see either Chris, or Christ:  completely surrendered to His will.  Oh! How I pray I live that way out of the hospital bed!

Post Surgery News

I guess the 15th was quite an exciting day full of drama, according to the surgery blog, which I was able to read weeks later.

The summary:

    • The tumor was surrounded by a sheath, which protected any nerves from being touched. No nerves to my mouth were damaged!
    • The tumor had “fingers” that went into my right ear, so, unpredicted by the MRI’s view, several bones from my ear were “eaten through” and were removed.  In one of my few memories of recovery, the brain surgeon motioned “YES!” with a clenched fist when I reacted positively to noise in that ear. Although hearing was lost for several weeks due to swelling, the nerves were not severed, and hearing was restored by 4 months post-op.
    • The surgery went as well as it possibly could. I stayed in ICU only one night, and a regular room one night and then went home! (I stayed longer for an emergency appendectomy a year later!) Although I have virtually no memory of that week, my husband tells me that I was in a lot of pain, and he was sure I would get meds in a more timely fashion in our house. (He cholerically took over.) Friends stayed with me 24/7 for ten days post-op, giving me medication and stabilization from falling. I learned what it means to serve one another in love.  I only wish I could erase some of those shower moments from their memories. (yuk!)
    • Although unable to get what the medical world calls “clear boundaries,” due to the tumor’s proximity to the main vein, the brain surgeon had confidence he got all he could see through his microscope. This has been confirmed by four years of clear MRI’s. (Praise God!)
    • I found out a couple years after the surgery (probably because my memory of the events was tainted) that there had been a 24-hour prayer chain during October 14-15, 2008. Apparently, all through the night, every 15 minutes, people were assigned to pray – on the phone with one another- in Michigan, Florida, Phoenix, Salt Lake, Louisville, etc. Wow. I learned what it means to be part of the body of Christ.
    • The headaches, the swallowing problem and the ear noise were all healed.  By January 2009, Chris was forgetting I was recovering and asked me to go snowmobiling! (I said, “no,” and reminded him the helmet would not feel good.) Really, less than three months after surgery, I felt better than I had felt in years. Chris said, “I feel like I got my wife back!” I still stand in awe.
    • I never before 2008 thanked God for a reflex like swallowing, but it still comes to mind. I learned that I have taken the body’s involuntary reflexes for granted.

When Bad Turns to Good:

I feel extra-blessed if I get a glimpse of God’s plan, when something I perceived as bad turns through a winding trail to be better for me after all.

    • My brother’s melanoma was such bad news, but if he had not called me, I may not have had the skin exams – which led to my recognizing the skin-healing problem. I cannot imagine I would have survived brain surgery lacking the ability to heal.
    • The rejection from the insurance company was a disappointment the day I received it; however, that rejection (along with Laurie Woodward’s encouragement) is what spurred me to get the second MRI. God’s thoughts are always higher than my own, and He meant it for my good. (Is 55:8)
    • The physical pain was bad, but it was good because it forced the solution. Without the substantial physical pain, I may not have sought help as fervently, and the tumor would have grown inoperable. (It reminds me of sin! But I will save that for another letter.)
    • I believe my friend (who prayed on the phone with me from the hospital bed) was changed for eternity. Heaven instead of hell… when my illness caused her to humbly reach for a Savior  (John 3:16). There is no greater joy for those who ask.

Despite whether we see the good coming from bad, we can be thankful for the struggles, because they promise to give us perseverance, character and hope (Rom 5:3-5) and increase our pain tolerance, too!

During a horrible storm that was tossing a fishermen’s boat in the billowing waves, Jesus said, “Peace be still,” and the winds and waves obeyed His command. (Mark 4:35-41)

The old hymn says, “the winds and waves still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.”

Although He may not remove you from the water, may you experience His peace as He calms the storm within.

In Christ,

Terri Brady (See below for Frequently Asked Questions)


1.  Will the tumor come back? – I was told there is a documented average 20% chance of return when they get clear boundaries around the tumor’s location. Since they did not get clear boundaries, the chances would normally be considered greater, but my surgeon was very confident that he got every cell, so any return would be due to its ripe environment for growth. At the five-year mark, the chances of its return decrease significantly.

2. Were there residual effects on me? – Yes. The biggest effect is that I am more grateful for pain-free days than ever. The other effects are minimal in comparison, and I don’t like to talk about medical things. 🙂

3. Do you still have headaches? – Yes. I am back to “normal”. In October this year, I was even speaking in front of a crowd – lights and all- with a migraine. To me, it was a testimony of increased pain tolerance. The occasional headache now comes as a blessing, reminding me of my past as “the leper” who comes back to say thank you.

4. Was the brain tumor caused by cell phone use? – I have read probably too much information on this topic. Although evidence is still questionable, it can’t hurt to hold cell phones far from the ear, and limit children from holding phones to their heads. (Their skulls are softer and the radiation has been measured much further into their brains.) My guess is that a cancer survivor who thought it had nothing to do with smoking could probably have written a letter like this in 1950, but of course my guess could be wrong.

5. Do you think your healing was a miracle? – I don’t feel worthy of the term, “miracle,” considering the miracle of a virgin’s birth or raising of a Man from the dead. However, I don’t take from God that He provided answers that the doctors were unable to predict. To God be all glory.

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Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part II

“Compassion is showing our scars to those with open wounds.” –Gary Hallquist

Dear Lindsey,

In my last letter, I gave Part I to this story. I originally hesitated from sharing this brain tumor journey: Was I afraid of dwelling in the past? Was I afraid I would scare readers into getting themselves checked for brain tumors? Or was it that my heart aches for so many people still in their “Holland,” with worse problems, bigger tumors, cancer in multiple family members, unrelenting back pain, life-changing car accidents, addictions, etc., but they are still living through them today? A friend reminded me that suffering is not a competition. If showing our scars can be helpful to those with open wounds, then sharing the past is celebrating God’s victories. So I continue to write:

When we last left the story, my insurance application had been rejected unless I would get another brain MRI.

September 6, 2008

I had the MRI early in the morning. I “checkmarked the box” so I could get the new insurance. The diagnostic center gave me the normal line about how I would hear from my doctor within two weeks to review the results. I knew from booking this appointment that the neurosurgeon was on vacation that week, so my follow-up appointment to review the MRI was scheduled for September 22. I was not worried, just like she had told me not to be at my previous appointment, months earlier.

The following week, the caller ID revealed the hospital’s number on a phone call. The kind woman told me that they needed to get another scan for clarity.

“I am flying to Salt Lake City in the morning,” I told her and we booked a time for the following Monday and ended our call. I figured my brain must have moved during its photo shoot, and blurred their view. (smile) It’s hard to hold still for 45 minutes – even if your head IS clamped.

The phone rang again within minutes. “I spoke with your doctor, and she said you should not get on the plane.”

“Is something wrong?” The dumb question escaped my mouth as my nerves escalated, realizing they had called that doctor on vacation –obviously, something was wrong.

“No, we just need a better view. It is actually not an MRI, but a VRI we will be taking,” she said as if that was a logical answer to my panicked question.

“So why can’t I fly? Is it the plane pressure? I am supposed to leave at 10am.”

“Well you could come in at 7am, and if the radiologist clears you, you could be out in plenty of time to make your plane.”

The following morning, I went back on the cold table into the tube. It screamed a sound similar to the old dot-matrix printer, seemingly through a microphone directly into my ears. Halfway through the test, the young (and obviously naïve) technician started my IV as normal and asked,

“So how long have you known about this?”

Known about what?! Went through my head, but I played it cool: “A while,” I said, not sure if we were talking about the same thing.

“Can they operate?” she asked, curious.

Oh. My. Word. Am I in a Twilight Zone? Did I miss a phone call somewhere? Last I had heard, this kind of tumor is common and no big deal… “Uh, I don’t know yet. I think that’s why I’m here,” my heart began to race as my mind wandered in “what ifs,” but exteriorly, I was calm.

“Is it cancer?” she asked me.

“I hope not,” I said quickly, as if the speed of my answer would bat that chance away.

“Well, you must be scared,” she said as she rolled the table with me on it back into the tube.

I lay on the hard, skinny table surrounded by my own cocoon for the second 20-30 minutes of the test. I thanked God that the technician was talking to me and not to some little old lady who didn’t know my God of peace. I knew the tech wasn’t supposed to talk to me like that, but regardless, the cat was out of the bag!

The radiologist released me, I guess, because I made the plane to Salt Lake City… with a headache.

In Salt Lake, we met with close friends and business partners. I told a small few, trying not to initiate panic, but asking for prayer and still hoping it would all blow over.

The following Monday, the 22nd, I saw the neurosurgeon, and she was less jovial than our first meeting months before.

“Your tumor has grown over 50%. This is a much more serious situation than I originally thought. It is compressing one of the two main veins to the brain. If it continues to grow at this pace, it is life threatening. It is unclear, but it looks like it is close to pushing your right brain to the left, which will cause seizures, so this is becoming an urgent situation. I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. I am sending you to a specialist a few hours south of here. I assume surgery is your only option. We made you an appointment for next Monday. Bring your husband. You will want him with you.”

She handed me 2ft x 3ft films to hand-carry to the specialist neurosurgeon in the Detroit area. It felt like the entire office staff was looking at me with a, “poor girl,” glance as I walked out, but it was probably just in my head. (“Just in my head” began a whirlwind of puns, humor which Chris and I enjoyed to relieve the weight of the situation.)

I got to the car, dumfounded. Opening the humongous envelope that held the films

Not my brain, but similar tumor, opposite side.

Not my brain, but similar tumor, opposite side.

and spreading them across steering wheel, I could see a lot of gray matter – like any picture of a brain- except one big difference, the white, oblong golf ball on the side. It looked big for my small brain. I searched for my name and date to be sure they were really pictures of my brain.

As I drove home, my mind was silent. The chatter of “things to do today” was gone. The bother of the other drivers wasn’t registering on my new Richter scale.


Really? This could be IT?! The finish line is sooner than I thought?

But,… my “dash”?!

I remembered hearing Lou Holtz read the poem, “The Dash,” about the symbol on a tombstone between the birth date and the death date. The dash represented what was done with the life during the time on earth.

My dash may be done?! But I was going to make a difference in this world; I was going to raise my kids to be difference-makers; I was going to spread the Gospel: I was going to…

I drove past an abortion clinic, and I was reminded of how many in there didn’t have a chance to even start their dash. Life is not fair. I don’t deserve more than they.

What would I do differently? Ironically, that week I had just read the account of Hezekiah in 2Kings 20, where Hezekiah was granted another 15 years of life, after he was told he was dying. What would I do now if God chose to continue my dash?

In my quiet car that day, my priorities aligned, as if seeing a ghost of Christmas future and being pleased. What?! PLEASED? Yes, pleased. I did not think about where I could have been in the work place had I only held on to my position in engineering. I didn’t think of patents I could have owned or promotions I might have possessed. I realized more than ever that I was blessed to have invested the time of my dash (so far) into being a mom and wife and encouraging other moms and wives. I recognized the GIFT my husband gave me in being a stay-at-home mom! If God’s plan was that I would never speak again, I had no regrets of missed words with my children. I wish that for every woman who chooses to be a stay-at-home mom! If it were all over, I had no regrets.

I called Chris to let him know the doctor’s news, and by the time I arrived home 30 minutes later, he had a dozen coral roses on the kitchen counter, accompanied by his warm embrace.

As the week progressed to the appointment with the specialist neurosurgeon, my quiet times with the Lord progressed to depth. It is always during storms, when I seek the Son most.

Chris and I kept our secret, trying to protect our children, then ages 11, 8, 4 and 3 from fear. The night before the next neurosurgeon appointment, we decided to tell our parents of the impending days.

I had difficulty spitting the words out to my mother and father in Colorado, imagining they would feel helpless 1300 miles away, and fighting their own medical battles.

My mother immediately reacted as if packing her suitcase, “We will leave within the hour, and drive all night.”

I could barely keep her from hanging up the phone to pack, when I told them it was just a doctor’s appointment, and I would let them know if indeed surgery was scheduled.

Skull-base Neurosurgeon, September 29

“The fast growth rate of the tumor tells us it is likely NOT cancer; less than 4% chance.”

The appointment gained speed as the skull-base-meningioma specialist went through the options of treatment. “The brain surgery where the child is outside playing later in the day as seen in some commercial is not an option. The size of the tumor (3.6cm) exceeds the limits of our non-invasive radiation treatments. Waiting longer to see how the tumor acts [if it would shrink] is getting to a dangerous point, and we have zero data of a tumor that has ever grown at this rate and then stopped. In view of what lies ahead for you, if you have always wanted to go to Hawaii or something, now is a good time to go.”

I had never had to endure such a speech, and yet it continued.

“At your age and health, your body will handle the surgery well. However, due to the proximity to the vein, I don’t know that we will be able to get it all. I will use scissors so small that the tips can only be seen under magnification, but if even one cell is left, the tumor will grow back. Regular MRI’s will hopefully allow us to catch it small enough to use a radiation “knife” or other noninvasive options next time.”

He laid out a plan for future surgeries and radiation treatments dependent on my age at the time of diagnosis and size and growth rate of the tumor. This diagnosis did not look like it was ending… ever.

His informatory speech continued with how he would enter the cranial cavity (my head!) by cutting a football shaped piece, extract the tumor and then create a seal to replace the missing skull. The location of the tumor seemed to him far enough from the ear to be able to avoid hearing damage, but it looked like it was directly on the nerves of my mouth; one nick of a nerve would cause permanent paralysis and inability to use my mouth, so he would have a feeding tube team standing by for insertion.

“Is this why I have been choking?” I asked, grimly.

“The location could definitely cause swallowing problems.”

He continued to talk about the tumor’s location, also pressing on the main vein, as he gave us an anatomy lesson of the sinus vein and its relation to the body.

“I will not get close to touching that vein. I will get every cell I can –as long as it is not touching that vein. If it is nicked, bad things happen.”

My heart sank, knowing the tumor was visibly pushing on the vein in the MRI.

Chris excused himself, and I noticed that he, too, was going green in the face.

His absence didn’t stop the doctor’s progression.

“It is a two part surgery. The first is done by a vascular surgeon, who will go through an artery in your leg all the way to your brain, to put a “super glue” (for lack of a better word) into the tumor, to stave off bleeding. This pre-surgery often avoids the need of a blood transfusion. The second surgery is by my team, the following day. The head surgeon here [no pun intended] will want to be involved, due to the nature of your case, so we will schedule a day for both of us, although I am hoping only one will be needed.

You will be our only patient for the day. This second surgery will take 2-14 hours. You will be in ICU one night after the arterial procedure, then 1-2 more nights of ICU after the brain surgery, and 3-5 days in regular room. It usually takes two-three months to feel 80% healed and a year before patients feel 100%.”

It had been so long since I felt “100%,” a year didn’t seem like a long wait.

“So do you think this will take care of my headaches?” I asked, hoping he would give me a different answer than the last neurosurgeon.

“It’s hard to say, but the location of your headaches does not look related to where this tumor is. Unfortunately, I hate to say, but sometimes it can make headaches worse.”

I held the tears until Chris and I were alone in the car.

So let me get this straight:

If I leave the tumor alone, its growth will likely lead to seizures, paralyze me and end in death;

If I have surgery, there is a chance of paralysis or death.

If I go through the two surgeries and a hospital week, and IF I survive and happen to get myself back without paralysis, the chances are high, that I will not feel any better than I have for a year, and I may even feel worse.

– And this is likely not the last time to have to go through all this.

Surgeries were scheduled for October 14 and 15.

As I called my friends, it felt like I was dropping a bomb on each one. I hated to make the call, and yet, I found through their tears, the love of Christ in our friendships was shining. When talking with my friend, Tracey Avereyn, I was the one who broke down. Through tears, I tried to master the language of cry-talking. I said, “I know that all things work together for good, but is it sinful that I dread this SO much?!”

Being a sister in Christ, she didn’t hesitate to sharpen as iron sharpens iron, “Terri, even Christ went to Gethsemane.” In other words, even Christ asked that the cup be taken from Him, but yet He conceded to God’s will being done.

The Son of God does not shine so bright as when our world is in its darkest state.

I knew Jesus had been through worse.

…..…… be continued…….

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