I always felt as if I were running for my life. I began having health issues in my early twenties. I developed digestive problems. My thyroid began to work too hard. Then my gall bladder started giving me grief. I worried my appendix would burst. Physical problems weren’t the worst of it. By the time I was twenty-three years old, I suffered from panic disorder, agoraphobia, and major depression. Growing up in an alcoholic, neglectful family had turned me into a walking anxiety attack. Research shows that children who experience trauma often have more health problems than the general population. They are also more accident-prone.
I came to know Christ after losing my brother to suicide when I was twenty-three-years-old. By the time I reached forty, much of my past had been left behind. I was active and healthy. I learned to windsurf and on weekends, if I wasn’t sailing across a lake, I was on my mountain bike or body surfing the waves at Pismo in California. I was free…or so I thought.
I eventually married a wonderful man. Being an outdoorsman, he was drawn to the beauty of Montana, and he invited me along for an adventurous life under the big sky. Before long I was hiking, fishing, and enjoying my new life. But six years later the unthinkable happened.
We were remodeling a Victorian cottage in the center of town in Helena, the capital city of Montana. We pulled ugly carpeting off the stairs and took down the railing in order to paint the wall. One afternoon I stepped onto one of the treads to come downstairs and lost my footing. I flew down the wooden steps and hit my head on the opposite wall. I crumpled to the ground, and soon found out I had broken my neck.
It took a year to recover, but I was left with chronic pain. I had to quit my job as secretary of our church. Computers and phones aggravated the muscle spasms. I asked God what he wanted me to do next. I wanted to live with a purpose, a plan. I prayed and believed I should follow a life-long dream and get an education. I thought I could become a therapist and help others. So, I started courses at my local four-year college. Four years later, at fifty-six-years-old, I graduated with honors. I was on my way!
That summer I tore the rotator cuff in my shoulder when I picked up my little grandson. I eventually had surgery. When I woke up from the surgery, the anesthesiologist was standing over me. He said, “I found a large mass in your throat. You need to have a CT scan right away!”
When I received the results of the scan, the doctors were puzzled. There was nothing in my throat. But at the top of the scan they saw a tiny portion of a brain tumor. It was in the worst place, right next to the brain stem. It was a called a meningioma, which is benign, but the placement of it made it inoperable. I was told I had about one year to live!
Deep inside I believed that God did not plan for my life to be over so soon. I searched through information online and found a surgeon in Los Angeles who performed surgeries other surgeons would not attempt. I sent my CT scan. He called.
“Linda,” he began, “I know I can help you.”
I scheduled the surgery for October 6, 2006. I was so sure God was with me, and I had a lot of peace in a situation that ordinarily would have caused a lot of fear. The surgery took six hours, and the recovery was extremely difficult. After lying in bed for six months, I decided to do something to take my mind off of my problems. I began to work on my master’s degree. If this was my purpose, God would help me to complete it.
Three years later I graduated. By that time, I had enough energy to work for an agency that helps children and teens. I later opened a private practice of my own and was very successful. I had a full practice and I believe I was helping a lot of people. As each year passed, I found I had more energy and added more days to my schedule.
Then the unimaginable happened: The cells from the brain tumor began to grow! I had to have the surgery all over again. I closed my practice, and on February 18, 2015, I underwent a seven-hour surgery. I prayed that the worst of the recovery would not happen this time, and it didn’t! I knew as soon as I woke up in my room that things would be better this time around. My surgeon was surprised, but I knew God was with me.
I wondered about my career: What about the seven years of full-time college coursework and my private practice? Would God use any of it? I was doubtful. I had no energy, a new problem with my eyes, and I wasn’t even sure I cared anymore. But slowly, God restored me.
My health is coming back and my vision for my future has returned. I was offered a position with a Christian counseling center and they offered me a contract that will allow me to work minimum hours while I continue to recover. Again, God is using me to help those who are hurting.
I have learned to rely on God’s strength when I am weak. I have learned that I will be alive for as long as He wills it, and He will be with me and help me through any situation, even when a doctor gives me a death sentence. The Bible teaches us not to be surprised when we go through trials. They are there to teach us perseverance, patience, and faith. I have learned that life may not be easy, but we are not alone!
Story submitted by Linda, from Montana.