After reading this blog post, I was inspired by what a beautiful example of faith it is and although this part of Katy's story is still being written, she has so graciously allowed me to share how it is beginning. It is amazing to see the way she has chosen to trust God and cling to Him during this challenge and embrace His plan for her life. I hope that you will find the time to read Katy's words below and to pray for her and her family as her surgery date approaches.
"God is at work in my life. First of all I want to say that God is good, and I am thankful for how He is writing my story. My prayer is that whoever reads this would be drawn to Jesus. To let you all in on what’s going on medically in my life, I have a 1.3 cm brain tumor (about the size of a blueberry) and will be having brain surgery on July 31st, this coming Monday. Here’s the story…
For about the past ten months I have been experiencing varying amounts of muscle tightness, nerve pain, and headaches. In October of last year, my musculoskeletal specialist referred me to get a cervical spine MRI (neck). The MRI ended up turning out blurry because of the metal in my braces. Anyway, I was told that I had a bulging disc in my neck, which was causing the muscle tightness in my neck, shoulder, and back. The disc also caused the the nerve pain in my right arm and hand. I continued receiving treatment from that doctor for the next few months, but over time treatment did not seem to be decreasing my symptoms. I wasn’t making progress and also started getting nerve pain in my right leg occasionally, as well as, headaches pretty often. At this point my doctor referred me for a second cervical MRI that I got on July 5th. For the majority of the past ten months, I was pretty frustrated with the pain and not giving it to God as much as I should have been. It wasn’t easy.
After the second cervical MRI, on July 10th, I was convicted to be intentional with my devotions that day. I ended up watching my Uncle Jeff’s first sermon online of his Anchored series at the Compass Church. The sermon was focused on God’s Love, Presence, and Sovereignty and referenced Acts 27-28. The story in Acts describes Paul’s great faith through an incredible storm. Let me just say that God’s timing is perfect. I feel that He orchestrated me to watch that message when I did because my doctor called with MRI results right before I finished the sermon. Here is a bit of it, “But if you’re serious about pressing into these spiritual realities, knowing your identity in Christ and the love of God, knowing what it means to be in His presence and enjoy His company, knowing what it is to rest in the reality that He is sovereign and in control and can be trusted. If that stuff is real to you than oh ho ho when the storm comes, those things will give you strength you’ve never known before, and your story will be glorious.” I want to be serious about pressing into these spiritual realities. God definitely started working on my heart right then and began preparing me for things to come. I experienced His peace that surpasses all understanding. I could have easily cried and freaked out, but God was really with me. My doctor told me that I had something called Arnold Chiari Malformation, which meant he thought the base of my brain was swelling. My parents and I met with him in person and he explained that he misspoke. We wouldn’t know for sure if I had that condition until another picture was taken which lead him to refer me to get a brain MRI on July 17th. Also during that appointment he said that I had two bulging discs in my neck, instead of one and that my cervical spine was straightening out which could not be reversed. There was also nothing else he could do to help me which was discouraging at the time. My mom, sister, and friend, Sarah, came with me to the brain MRI and I appreciated that.
On July 18th my roommate Christy and I headed up to Muskegon, MI for our good friends’ wedding. All I wanted to do was enjoy the wedding and focus on my friend Elizabeth (bride) instead of my neck pain. I took a minimal amount of ibuprofen and God answered my prayer, and I had almost no neck pain over the following few days! The day before the wedding, July 20th I was notified by my primary care doctor about the brain tumor. I freaked out a little bit and called my mom, but Christy and Elizabeth were definitely there for me and I’m thankful for them! Since Arnold Chiari Malformation sounded serious and had to do with my brain, I feel that God used that misdiagnosis to prepare me for the real news.
At that point I thought that I had two bulging discs, injury to my cervical spine, and a brain tumor. Yikes. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, God began teaching me to trust in Him and His plan, whatever that may be. I surrendered everything going on with me physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to God. Throughout the following couple days, God helped me to slowly process all of that and my fears for what the future holds. It was such a blessing to be distracted by the wedding, and let me tell you we had a blast celebrating and praising God for the gift of marriage. It was the best few days of my summer, and I experienced a lot of joy.
Next, my primary care doctor told me to see a neurosurgeon. I had that consultation yesterday, July 24th. My dad’s good friend from church, who recently underwent brain surgery was able to highly recommend someone. My mom, and sister came to the appointment with me which was a big comfort, as well as my aunt and uncle hosting us the night before. My neurosurgeon examined my symptoms and looked over my past MRIs. Praise God! He said that I do NOT have two bulging discs and that my spine is not permanently straight. People at church had laid hands on my neck and prayed for me previously, and God answered. My neck is temporarily straight from my muscle spasming and tightness. He explained that all of my symptoms are directly related to the tumor. So if all goes well in surgery, once I recover, I’ll be pain free!
Back to the tumor details. In the MRI it appears to be benign (not cancerous), and not attached to surrounding brain tissue, but my neurosurgeon said it is not clear for sure. He explained that I will need a higher quality MRI the morning of the surgery. This will help him to visualize what we are up against as well as during the surgery itself. The tumor is located in kind of a tricky spot, at the base of my skull where my brainstem leads into my spine. He explained that it may be simple and easy to remove, but also may be attached, in which case he would remove as much of the tumor as possible without compromising brain tissue. We are grateful at how knowledgeable and caring the doctor is.
I am undergoing the operation so soon because of the unknown factors of the tumor. Also my neurosurgeon is going out of town soon, and by having the surgery Monday, it will keep me on the road to, hopefully, getting back to school on time for the semester.
God has definitely been working in me to trust Him, rest in His presence, and grow in understanding of His vast love for not only me, but everyone. I do not believe God gave me this tumor, although He can use this for my good and His glory.
I am a little scared to receive brain surgery but God has washed me with His peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). He is truly growing my faith and providing me with strength for this season of my life. It is amazing to feel God’s perfect love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). Isaiah 26:3 also says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Amen. I do trust in the Lord and fix my thoughts on Him. I believe God is bigger than my 1.3 cm tumor, and that He is bigger than brain surgery. God is writing my story, and if having a brain tumor and surgery draws me closer to Him, then so be it. I want to know Jesus more and more!
Thank you so so much to everyone that I have talked to already, for the continued prayers and much love and support!!! I love you all so much and am so immensely grateful that God has placed each of you in my life! Keep praying against the evil one, for the tumor to be benign and easy to remove, for my family, for my neurosurgeon and his team, for the hospital experience, for my recovery and for God to be glorified through the whole process.
To continue following Katy's story, visit her blog at https://katyboyack.wordpress.com/.
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[m] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5
9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. John 3:30"