There are not enough words to express our heartfelt gratitude for your response to our request for prayer. Every phone call, text, email, Facebook message, card and visit was significantly used by the Lord to strengthen us and sustain us throughout the past week. What a treasure of untold wealth we’ve been given through family and friends-our prayer warriors-whose offerings according to the Word of God, “availeth much”. While “thank you” seems so inadequate to say, we sincerely thank you for your outpouring of love and prayer. We will try to respond to everyone as best we can in the coming week.
It is with some intention that we’ve delayed updating everyone since my (Heather’s) doctor’s appointment last Thursday. The last two weeks have been a roller coaster ride of emotions, and before sharing forward with the world, we felt it first necessary to spend ample time talking with the Lord.
Though amiable and skilled in neurosurgery, the doctor with whom we met performs the traditional, invasive procedures (which includes moving down your cerebellum to provide a pathway through which to navigate to the cystic pineal gland, at which time the growth is drained-not removed-and could refill with fluid in the future) and is not schooled in the less invasive, technologically advanced procedures available at specialized facilities. At that, the procedures he performs are at the frequency of maybe 1 or 2 every few years. Here’s a summary of our visit with a local neurosurgeon last Thursday:
- The pineal cyst is approximately the size of a large green grape in the innermost space of my brain designed to house a gland the size of a pea
- There is discrepancy regarding the amount of growth in the cyst from the March baseline MRI to my recent MRI from two weeks ago (the baseline MRI documentation both cited the cyst size as 12mm and 15 mm; the recent MRI stated the measurements of just under 17mm). Regardless of this, the cyst is confirmed to be much larger than a typical cyst requiring surgical intervention
- Though formidable in size, this doctor says it is “inconclusive” whether or not the cyst is the cause for my current symptoms (migraines, dizziness, scalp tingling and burning, random head pain, light and sound sensitivity, tremors, forgetfulness, difficulty articulating words, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, etc.) yet we’ve read online documentation from other surgeons who have treated patients with significantly smaller cysts and attribute these symptoms wholly to the pineal cyst
- Less-invasive procedures are “investigative” and their effectiveness and safety is “inconclusive”
- Recommendation of moving forward with MRV and aqueduct flow tests to evaluate cerebrospinal fluid retention and exchange and blood vessel functionality, as well as lab orders for blood work to check for any indications of malignancy. It is undetermined whether or not these tests will provide further valuable assessment of the implications of the cyst. Also recommended having another MRI in 3-4 months.
While we were provided with additional and objective information, we honestly left that appointment with more questions than answers. And for a black-and-white kind of girl who loves living in a world of absolutes, this lack of precise clarity left my grey-less, analytical mind spinning. And although the car ride home was audibly silent, especially since Greg and I drove separately to the appointment, it was spiritually deafening and with much repetition, the Lord speaking clearly: “Trust Me. Believe in Me.” So we turned to the only source of truth and certainty for direction-God’s Word.
After a week of less than satisfying thoughts, conversations and research overly saturated with “all things pineal”, I found myself starving for something of substance to fulfill my craving for answers amidst the abounding questions. The Lord led me to the books of Matthew and James.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:7-8 read, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
James 1:2-8 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do”. (The Message translation says that a doubting person “worries their prayers”.)
These words were like a soothing balm to my aching spirit, and once again, the Lord spoke into my heart: “Trust Me. Seek Me. Ask Me. Pray it out. Believe in Me.”
When the Lord undeniably speaks, it warrants a response grounded in conviction from the deepest recesses of our soul. Recesses that were now filled with peace.
My God created the heavens and the earth, all of the creatures of the air, land and sea, and all of mankind. My God has parted seas and walked on water. He has fed thousands from mere scraps of food, turned water into wine, and caused the lame to walk and the blind to see. My God raised His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead, overcoming the grave and conquering the gates of hell. If my God is capable of performing these and other miracles, then He is more than worthy of embodying my belief that He can handle a 17mm cyst growing in my brain. I can believe that nothing separates His love for me. I can believe that He has plans for my good rather than my harm. I can believe that He knows every fiber of my being. I can believe that there is no reason for me to be afraid and that I can rest in Him. I can believe that we will be given wisdom for the decisions that lie ahead in the days to come. Why? Because His Word says I can.
A captivating melody illustrating these truths has become an anthem in my soul, beautifully and simply written by our dear friend Jeremy Johnson, and Phil Naish, in the chorus of the song titled “Believe”:
“You have seen over higher mountains
And You have calmed greater seas.
You have loved deeper than this valley
So I will just believe.”
That it should take rock-your-world circumstances to finally grasp that the Lord so desperately desires to converse and commune with us on a breath-by-breath basis is quite the spiritual travesty, of which I am a first-degree offender. Regardless of the outcome that awaits on the other side of my present health circumstances, I can testify that through this experience, because I have chosen to believe, I have been radically changed from the inside out, and it has been worth it.
So where do we go from here? We pray it out in faith and belief that God will give us wisdom for the days ahead and the decisions yet to be made, specifically. And we expect nothing less than that. We believe that God will impart His wisdom through His Word, people, circumstances, the Holy Spirit, and through prayer and that if we posture ourselves as servants ready to clearly receive and respond to His wisdom that overrides all human reasoning, we will know exactly which path to He desires us to take.
Pursuing surgical intervention is an enormous decision. We do not want to reason ourselves into it, scare ourselves into it, or negligently put ourselves in severe financial crisis because of it; nor do we desire to delay it to the point of incurring significant physical harm from the symptoms. Thus, specific matters of prayer include:
- Gathering the facts of all of our options: insurance coverage and out of pocket expenses necessary for having the MRV and aqueduct tests (and determination of whether these tests will be useful for further assessing the cyst) and whether it would be beneficial to pursue a second opinion
- Clarity to know whether to have these tests ran now, or in December/January, or at all
- Wisdom to recognize God speaking to us, and that He would do so through whatever means are necessary, even if that means significantly aggravating my symptoms to debilitating proportions
- Healing by any means – divine or medical intervention
- Continued peace to walk daily in the belief that God is going to provide us the answers we are seeking
We love you, and thank God for your covering of prayer on our behalf. Our prayer for you is that, as you journey with us, you too would be inspired to trust God, seek God, and just believe.
Greg & Heather