Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Healing Testimony

A Healing Testimony
Jan 26, 2010
The following is a healing testimony from my wife--its long but worth the read! For some, you've heard the story, but this time its going around the world.

My Healing! To God Be the Glory!

By Tiffany L. Speck

My husband, Adam, and I were married in December of 2000. A mere 15 months later, in March of 2002, I began to have alarming symptoms; something was wrong with my health. I immediately contacted my doctor who hesitated to do any testing or even talk with me. Her office staff repeatedly diverted my anxious calls to her other staff members, nurses—anyone but the doctor. I began to use my old Nursing School textbooks and the internet to do my own research, asking the Lord to guide my search and provide me with answers. Everything I was finding indicated that I most likely had some type of tumor, a brain tumor.

My husband and I were shaken, particularly because my doctor refused to do anything to figure things out. After much begging and pleading, one of the nurses convinced another doctor in the group to order an MRI for me to confirm or disprove my suspicions. A few weeks later, I had an MRI which did indeed confirm that I had a small tumor on the left side of my pituitary gland.

My husband and I were devastated. I had picked up a copy of my MRI report from the hospital where I had the scan prior to receiving any information from my doctor. I immediately called her office in one last attempt to speak with her. When she returned my call several hours later, she initially denied that the MRI had shown anything. When I told her that I had already read the report myself, she became icy and conceded that I did, indeed, have a tumor. I asked her what treatment we would be pursuing to treat it, and her response was, “These tumors usually only cause infertility. You and your husband can try to conceive for a couple of years and if you don’t get pregnant after a year or two, give me a call.”

I was finally able to get a referral to a specialist in our area. He immediately had us come into his office, where he informed us that he thought the tumor was probably benign, but obviously couldn’t be sure without removing the tumor and testing it. He said that if it was the type of tumor he thought it was, it would be very slow growing and I shouldn’t have any other symptoms. He confirmed that these tumors did cause infertility, and that I should begin treatment immediately with a drug aimed at shrinking the tumor. My husband and I sat in his office hearing all this and were again devastated. We had just begun trying to start a family when all of this happened, and now we were being told that I probably would never be able to conceive. We left the office with a prescription for the first medication aimed at shrinking the tumor.

During the car ride to the pharmacy, I just did not have peace about taking this medication. We went to the pharmacy anyway to fill it; I spoke with the pharmacist and asked her what would happen if I became pregnant while taking the drug. She informed us that it would possibly cause severe birth defects or even a miscarriage. We filled the prescription, but when we got home, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I should wait a few weeks to start the medication.

I used the weeks of waiting to pour out my soul to the Lord, feeling like Hannah in the book of I Samuel, weeping before Him, begging for a child. I had dreamed of being a mother, of having children since I was a little girl. I promised, like Hannah, that if He would hear my prayers and answer my requests for a child, I would give the child back to Him for His service. Two weeks later, a pregnancy test told us we were already pregnant!

My husband and I were thrilled but scared as well. Now what were we supposed to do? Here I was pregnant with our first child, and we had found out only a few weeks earlier that I had a brain tumor! My doctor told us not to worry, reminding us these tumors were extremely slow growing but the tumor could cause me to lose the baby. He told me to watch for any severe headaches, vision loss, seizures, and stroke-like symptoms—what a way to start a pregnancy! It was a blessing that I did not start the medication, but now I had a pregnancy AND a brain tumor. The pregnancy prohibited taking the medication to shrink the tumor and I let anxiety about it steal from our excitement of a brand new baby.

I wish I could say that my faith never wavered at all, but I’d be lying. I was scared to death, as was my husband, and more so now that I knew I was pregnant. I was afraid of what could happen to the baby, I was afraid of what could happen to me, I was afraid of everything. But my husband and I knew that we needed to place this whole situation, and our unborn child, in the Lord’s hands and trust Him to take care of us.

Three months later, in July 2002, I began to have severe headaches above my left eye that would last for hours at a time. Another MRI was ordered immediately-- our doctor read the results and told us that instead of a slow growing tumor, the pregnancy had caused it to double in size, causing it to press on my optic nerve. He told us it was quite likely it would be necessary to have immediate neurosurgery to remove the tumor and referred us to a neurosurgeon. He told us that if the neurosurgeon felt surgery was necessary, it was possible that the surgery would damage my pituitary gland and cause a miscarriage and also render me permanently infertile. I panicked at this point. Neurosurgery at any time during your life is a scary thought, but to contemplate having it during a pregnancy was even worse. I was being bombarded by fears that the baby would die, that I would die, or worse—the baby would die, I would be infertile, and that I would continue to live. I didn’t want to live knowing that the surgery to save me had caused the death of my child. I was afraid. As I prayed, the Lord made it clear to my spirit that fear is not from Him, it’s from Satan. He kept telling me to trust Him, regardless of my circumstances, regardless of the outcome. He kept bringing to mind Matthew 7:11 “If you, then, though you are evil, how much more will your father in Heaven, give good gifts to those who ask Him?”

We saw the neurosurgeon a few days later. He looked at my MRI reports and bloodwork and became concerned. He didn’t feel it was in either the baby’s best interest or mine to do neurosurgery at this time, and he also didn’t think that I had the slow growing tumor that my doctor seemed to originally think. The neurosurgeon told us that my bloodwork, symptoms, and MRI’s indicated that it was more likely that the tumor was malignant, rather than being benign. He also told us that not only was he surprised I had been able to get pregnant, but also that I had been able to carry the pregnancy this far. He was concerned that the hormonal fluctuations caused by the tumor would cause me to miscarry. He suggested repeating the MRI in a month, monitoring the tumor more closely, and if it continued to grow, looking more seriously at the idea of surgery. Otherwise, there was nothing anyone could do.

While all this was going on, my husband and I were constantly petitioning the Lord for help, for guidance, for healing, for our unborn child’s safety, for stability, and for the ability to trust Him in all of this. Churches and Christian friends literally all over the world were praying for us.

We were also on our search for the perfect name for the baby. We found out we were having a boy, and in an effort to honor the Lord, to testify of His faithfulness, and to strengthen our own faith, we decided to name him Elijah, which means, “the Lord is my God.” We had decided to give our lives to Christ many years ago, and we were doing our best to follow Him through these extremely difficult times. Things seemed to improve somewhat at this point, emotionally, as the pregnancy itself was moving along successfully. However, my husband had found out one month prior to our son’s birth that he was most likely going to be laid off a few months after our son was to be born.

Our son, Elijah, was born healthy and full-term on December 29, 2002, the exact day of our second wedding anniversary. Praise the Lord! Another MRI was scheduled for March to check the status of the tumor once my pregnancy hormones had begun to subside and to discuss treatments. But despite a successful birth, things began to slide downhill for us.

I opted not to begin treatment immediately after the birth of my son, despite my husband’s and my doctor’s protests, as the medication I would be taking prohibited breastfeeding a newborn. I felt very compelled to exclusively breastfeed my son. In hindsight, this was again the Lord, as we learned very soon after our son was born that he had severe food allergies; he never would have been able to tolerate formula. My husband had been laid off at this point and was searching desperately for a job without any success.

We decided to move to Missouri as soon as we could. We wanted to be near family and realized that we couldn’t raise our children without the help and nearness of family. And, if my husband couldn’t find a job in Virginia, maybe he could find one in Missouri. I had my MRI the first week of March. Rather than finding that the tumor had begun to shrink as we were still hoping, we learned that it was now beginning to wrap around my carotid artery. Without a job and without insurance, there was nothing we could do about the tumor anyway. Three weeks later, in April 2003, we packed up all of our belongings, gathered copies of all our medical records, and moved 1,200 miles away to Missouri.

Soon after we got to Missouri, my husband found a lesser job than either of us wanted, but it would give us health insurance in a few months time. And so we waited and prayed, with nothing else for us to do. The intent, as soon as we were covered under the new insurance: to have another MRI and begin treatments. I finally found a doctor under the new insurance and scheduled an MRI for the end of August. My husband and I were both anxious to see what the tumor was doing at this point.

At the end of July, I began to have funny “symptoms” again, and suspected I might be pregnant, despite not trying. A blood test in August confirmed my woman’s intuition. Here I was with a 6-month-old, a tumor, and I was pregnant again! Needless to say, my new tumor doctor was not thrilled about this, as it made an accurate MRI and treatment of the tumor impossible again. My blood work was again not normal; the doctor decided to have me come in for several visits during the pregnancy to check my blood work frequently in an attempt to monitor the tumor that way. All our fears started over again, wondering if the tumor would terminate the pregnancy, wondering if it would grow again and put my life in more danger.

At this point, 16 months after this whole tumor nightmare began; I began to not care anymore about it. Rather than stress during another pregnancy and live on pins and needles again, I just decided to quit thinking about it. I don’t think I can honestly say that I was walking completely in faith at this point, don’t get me wrong, I was leaving it in the Lord’s hands, but I was also trying to ignore it. My husband took over the task of stressing for me!

My pregnancy was rather uneventful until November 2003, when a routine ultrasound showed that our baby, a little girl this time, had enlarged kidneys. She was also not growing the way she should, and per the radiologist, she had short femurs. Our midwife and obstetrician informed us that with these three findings—being female, having enlarged kidneys, and having short femurs—it was quite likely that our baby had Down’s syndrome. Our faith was truly being crushed at this point, forget about being “stretched.” If everything else hadn’t been enough, now our baby had kidney problems and quite possibly Down’s. They scheduled me for serial ultrasounds throughout the rest of the pregnancy to monitor the baby’s growth and her kidneys. All of the subsequent ultrasounds continued to show that our little girl was not as big as she should be and that the kidney and femur issues were continuing. Each time, a doctor would hesitantly remind us about the very real possibility of our baby having kidney problems and Down’s syndrome. As they looked deeper into the ultrasounds, they decided she would possibly have Spina Bifida, as the spine and kidneys were not forming correctly together. Though we would not love our daughter any less, we still were anxious. Preparing for the delivery, we were in contact with the local children’s hospital, should she need dialysis within the first few days of her life to treat her kidney issues or anything else.

Family and friends continued to pray for us. Praying one day, I begged for the Lord’s mercy and compassion on my baby, for her healing, and promised to serve Him no matter what. I also promised the Lord that if He would heal my baby of the kidney issues, the Spina Bifida, and the Down’s (forget the brain tumor at this point) that I would get up in church and testify before everyone of His grace, mercy, goodness, and power. That was my prayer throughout the remainder of the pregnancy. On April 18, 2004, exactly two weeks past her due date, our daughter Avelyn was born. We chose her name again to honor the Lord—her name is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, meaning both “dove” and “small fire.” We knew the Holy Spirit had been with us throughout this whole time and knew we needed to acknowledge it, whether or not our daughter was born healthy and whole. It was by the power of the Holy Spirit she was healed.

As she lay on my chest immediately after birth, I looked at her and knew in an instant she was fine. No Down’s and no Spina Bifida! After several tests of her kidneys during the next month, we learned that her kidneys were only slightly enlarged and that they were completely healthy, no true kidney problems at all! The Lord had heard my prayers and answered them! I spoke with our pastor’s wife and made plans to testify before our church to fulfill my promise to the Lord.

During the time I was waiting to give my testimony at church regarding my daughter’s health, my doctor scheduled an MRI to check up on my tumor to again, as it was time to stress about that again. It had been over a year since my last MRI, and he was anxious to see what was going on. Towards the end of my second pregnancy, I had begun to really believe that my tumor was gone. I’m not sure what triggered those thoughts, but I really believed the Lord had healed me. I felt different somehow. I, too, was anxious to see what my tumor “was doing.”

The MRI was scheduled for the first week of June. I went in, had the MRI, and honestly forgot all about it the minute I walked out of the hospital doors. I had too many babies to occupy my thoughts now, a two-month old and an eighteen-month old! A week later, on a Friday night, with some dear Christian friends at our home, we received a letter from my doctor stating the following: “The MRI was interpreted as showing no tumor. This is a good result.” He couldn’t have been more wrong—this was a MIRACULOUS result! The letter from the doctor hangs in a frame on our wall at home.

And, so, I was able to stand before our church and testify not only of the Lord’s healing hand on our daughter, but on me as well. I was also humbled and amazed at all of this. I wish I could say that my walk with the Lord was strengthened and that I served Him whole-heartedly during all this. I wish I could say that my faith never wavered and that I never screamed out in anger at the Lord during all this time, but I can’t. That’s what makes all of this so much more of a miracle to me. Despite my many, many failures during this time, despite my lack of faith, despite my disobedience at times to my Heavenly Father, in spite of me, God heard my prayers and He healed my daughter and me. He truly is the Heavenly Father who gives good gifts to His children!

1 comment:

Renee said...

What an amazing story! You both are truly blessed and I love that you can share that story with everyone. Congratulations on everything that God has blessed you with! Renee Brandon