Miracles by Marchauna Rodgers
On the 15th of June, I heard the words no parent wants to hear… there was a mass in my daughter’s brain. To be honest, I don’t really remember what the doctor had to say. It all jumbled together into a voice not unlike the teacher in Peanuts cartoons. Nothing made sense.
Fast forward to September 20, 2018. We went back to see the neurosurgeon who removed the golf ball size mass from her brain, for her second post-operative follow-up. Dr. Benjamin Ling is thrilled with Makayla’s progress! In fact, he said she doesn’t need to come back for six months, twice as long as he said when we saw him in July. It was incredibly routine, considering the reason for the appointment, and the circumstances surrounding our introduction.
In the time between June 15th and September 20th, we’ve found out some incredible statistics. Our daughter’s story is truly miraculous. Let me explain.
You have less than a 1% chance of being diagnosed with a brain tumor in your lifetime.
Fewer than 5000 children under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year. Of those who are diagnosed with a brain tumor, 97-98% of them will be diagnosed with cancer. Of those who have a glial cell tumor, 55% will have glioblastoma, with an average survival of 18 months. A glioblastoma was what killed Senator McCain.
Of the approximately 4600 kids who will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year, more than 4500 of them will hear the words no parent wants to hear… that their child has cancer.
Makayla truly is a walking miracle. Not only does she not have cancer, she has very few complications from the surgery. Technically, she has experienced a traumatic brain injury. She has brain damage; the whole where the tumor was will never go back to its normal size. She will always have a hole there. You can see where the doctor cut into her brain to remove the tumor. That damage will always been there. Doctors have been closely monitoring her vision, to see how it will be affected by the papilledema and by the surgery; the neurosurgeon was cutting in the region where Makayla’s optic nerve fibers are. She could have permanent damage to her vision. But it looks like her vision will be fully restored!
All of us are still processing the trauma of the summer. While Makayla doesn’t have cancer, a brain tumor is always bad, especially for a child. She will live with the risk of cancer and other complications over her head for the rest of her life. Though our journey wasn’t as long as some, the experience has deeply affected each one of us. I can’t drive by Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital without looking at the room where Makayla stayed. It still makes me catch my breath. When Makayla had her first follow-up MRI after leaving the hospital, I cried. When we go to the doctor, our conversations are different. Our doctor is responding differently to routine health issues, because after this summer we’re not taking anything for granted.
The craziest part is, the same God who gave us so many miracles with our daughter took my mom to Heaven so unexpectedly. The same God who demonstrated His love for my family by healing my daughter demonstrated His love for my family by not healing my mom. The very same God.
In some ways it is difficult to reconcile those truths. I must prefer Makayla’s story to my mom’s. I wish my mom had been miraculously healed, too. I really do. It is more painful than I could have imagined; part of my heart is missing. We have so many “firsts” coming up: her birthday (it was in September), kids’ birthdays (three grandkids have birthdays in October), my sister’s birthday (in November), Thanksgiving (Mom always brought pumpkin pie), my birthday (in December) and Christmas. So many reminders that Mom is gone. They are also reminders that Makayla is still here. That she doesn’t have cancer. That she isn’t facing chemo or radiation. That we don’t have to think about planning her funeral.
Through all of this, I am seeing God’s goodness. He is so good. In my grief. In my heartache. In my disappointment. Even in my joy. God is good. That is my hope and comfort.
Marchauna and her husband Chris lead Cru Spokane and are the parents of eight children between 7 and 23. Marchauna loves hiking, reading, writing, and telling people about Jesus. If you have enjoyed her articles in Good News Northwest, you can find more of her thoughts at www.marchauna.blogspot.com.