Less than two years into my recovery, I was informed by my local hospital that a recent MRI (performed for reasons apparently unrelated to Cushing’s Disease) indicated a recurrence of my pituitary tumor. I read over the MRI report that provided measurements of a soft tissue mass just over 4 by 6 millimeters. My emotions shifted rapidly from an initial anger and frustration to an apathetic acceptance that this was my ongoing journey. After a short time, I was no longer upset but instead began plotting and planning how this news was going to affect my life. I pondered things like when would be the best six weeks to take off school so I could add the summer break to my recovery again, and how could I still plan to finish my graduate program on schedule this semester. Many similar task oriented thoughts swirled around in my head as a waited for my visit at Johns Hopkins.
I also began to accept the notion that my long-term prognosis just took a nose-dive. I just went from having a 90% chance of life long recovery to a 50% chance. I felt very sure that I had youth on my side and I could undergo a second surgery expecting to bounce back quickly. Yet at the same time, I began to make peace with the idea that adverse effects from Cushing’s Disease could very well be the route by which I exit this world in the extended future.
I shared my news with friends, family, co-workers and my church, rallying as much support and prayers as I could. Belonging to a church where the pastors place high value on health and healing, I had mixed feelings about what I knew they were going to say. I always felt they were well meaning, but maybe a bit out of touch with the stark reality of my having a potentially life threatening disease. I knew they wouldn’t hear it when I shared that my best chance of successful treatment had just been tossed to the wind with this new recurrence. As I expected, they basically told me that I had nothing to worry about. I can still hear Pastor Cathy and Pastor Dave saying, “There are no tumors in the kingdom, and you just need to declare that and receive it.” On one hand, I was a little irritated; because I clearly did have a tumor 18 months ago…were they saying that I wasn’t in the kingdom then? Still, I knew they meant every word they were saying with love and a passionate faith, so I continued sharing my fear and concern with both of our pastors, knowing that I wasn’t in full agreement with their words but still wanting to hear them anyway. Every time, the message was the same: that I didn’t have to ask to be healed, that it was done, that all I needed to do was receive it and declare it in faith. I continued listening and loving the sound of it, but at that point, never felt bold enough to say it out loud. I didn’t want my faith in God to be compromised by being let down if I took such a leap of faith. If I said those words, yet continued to receive continued confirmation from doctors that I was experiencing this reoccurrence, how destructive that would be the credibility of all the comforting words that I was trying to absorb.
Still, it weighed heavily on me that I needed to proclaim faith in the situation, to step out in boldness. I just felt like I had to, as though if I did not, I would be saying to God that I didn’t need him…and I knew that wasn’t true. The day before my appointments at John’s Hopkins, I posted to my friends and family via facebook, the words that seemed frighteningly bold. I urged everyone to continue praying for me, but this time, specifically that the tumor simply be gone. It would have been easy to pray for a successful surgery and maybe even easy to pray that I never have another recurrence after this. It was hard to pray for the tumor to simply be gone, but I felt a rush of confident faith when I hit the “send” button. I said the same prayer myself as I crawled into bed.
The next day, I saw two doctors at Johns Hopkins: the neurosurgeon first and the endocrinologist for a separate appointment shortly thereafter. Both doctors did their exams, looked through my organized binder that had contained the past year and half’s medical records and lab work, and reviewed my multiple MRIs. Both doctors stated that their best advice for me was to stop having MRIs! They further explained that an MRI should never have been used to predict a pituitary tumor in my case. Due to permanent, post surgical changes in the gland, both doctors agreed that an MRI is bound to always show abnormalities. I inquired of the neurosurgeon, what he thought about my facial spasms that led local doctors to order the MRI in the first place. He assured me that if it was a one time event that resolved on its own with no other consequence, he would advise me not to even worry about it.
I couldn’t wait to go back and tell everyone the news. Maybe I never had a tumor. BUT….maybe this day was proof that bold faith in God did allow me to receive a healing that I might have rejected had I not been encouraged to accept it in faith. I have to wonder if I had not stepped out and spoken what I wanted as though it was a done deal, would the story have ended the same way. Before I left Johns Hopkins, the endocrinologist sent me home with a two-day saliva test that is supposed to be more sensitive for cortisol testing than the blood tests and urine tests I had already done. He has said quite plainly that I had no reason to be concerned, so I think he only gave the test just to have one more indicator of a clean bill of health. However, I don’t think I need it. I believe that I have all I need in knowing that God has already healed me. I think that I will not take the test, just as a proclamation of my faith and confidence that I can rest in what is already done! That being said, I do not anticipate adding any additional articles to this website. I will consider it a finished work, and hope that someone not only find some information, but maybe a little inspiration too. Thank you God for the chance to share a little faith with the world!