Stories of Hope
On Sept 11, 2012, a panoramic x-ray showed that my entire left jaw was nearly gone. The oral surgeon told me I had this black mass where there should be bone. He told me he didn’t think it was cancer, but I needed to see a doctor at OSU because I would have to have my jaw reconstructed.
After hearing the news, all I could do the first two days was pray for God to take my life. I couldn’t bear the thought of going through that type of surgery. When it became obvious that God was not answering that prayer, I began to ask Him to heal my jaw. I wanted the tumor to just disappear and for new bone growth to develop in my jaw. Sadly, that prayer wasn’t answered either. Yet, even though God was not answering me in the way I wanted Him to, He was already at work in my life, preparing me in advance for what was to come.
Out of the blue that summer, I wanted to start camping. I bought a tent but my husband refused to camp in a tent; so, one day, as we drove home from church, we spotted a used RV for sale and ended up buying it. On our second trip out with the RV, I met a lady who worked in surgery at OSU. When I found out about the tumor that following September, I called her and she recommended the doctor I should go see. It was like God had sent me an angel as she answered my questions and explained the journey. Even now, as I think back to that terrible day, as I drove from the dentist office to the oral surgeon, the song, “The Anchor Holds,” was playing on the radio.
On October 8, 2012, the biopsy showed that it was ambeloblastoma and not cancer. Even though the tumor wasn’t cancerous, the doctor explained, in great detail, the complexity of the surgery and how important it was that he got every last cell so the tumor didn’t come back.
Oh how I dreaded that eight hour surgery. Yet, through it all, I could sense God’s presence with me. It was a comfort to know that many people were praying for me. As I awaited the surgery, I received many cards in the mail, and even found a support group online and spoke with a Christian lady over the phone who had this same type of tumor removed. I also received a prayer shawl from her, and a prayer shawl from a women's group from a church in a different state. The love and support I received from people during this time simply overwhelmed me.
Another way God prepared me for this surgery (before I even knew I had the tumor) was when I attended Ann Downing's annual women's retreat, MTWR. In the spring of that year (2012), I was asked to be a hostess for Patty Mason, one for the speakers. One of the books on Patty's table was the bible study, Transformed by Desire. I bought a copy, but our group didn't begin the study until September (one week before I found out about the tumor), and we finished the study in November (the week before the surgery). Oh how I needed that study. God's timing was perfect. Scripture after scripture in that study spoke to my heart, giving me the strength to make it through the surgery and through my recovery time from the surgery.
I was in the hospital for 7 days after the surgery on November 19th. After being sent home, I was readmitted for a fistula. After being sent home again, I was readmitted again for an abscess. At this point, I was really getting discouraged by the setbacks, but once again God was good. On the way to the hospital for my second readmission, I saw two separate rainbows. It was like God was telling me that everything was going to be okay after this time. After that, I began to count the times God sent a rainbow just when I needed one. For example, I would be worried about the tumor coming back, and then someone would post a rainbow on my FaceBook page.
Since the surgery, I’ve had two CT scans and a MRI to check for tumor reoccurrence and to check on the bone graft. I’m happy to report that I received good news all three times. I am utterly thankful to God for leading me through a journey I never thought I could travel through.
One particular Scripture that spoke to my heart was James 1:2-3. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Before the surgery, I had a hard time comprehending that scripture. However, when I was in the hospital I realized something: We consider it pure joy whenever we face trials, because it’s when we go through the storms of life, that’s when we feel God’s presence close to us. Oh what joy to feel God’s presence! God continues to be with me; and, because of going through my ameloblastoma journey, I feel closer to Him than ever before.
Those who share their story are people just like you, who, at one time, felt lost and alone. Yet, their lives turned around by the hope and deliverance they found in Jesus Christ.
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