Being a Christian and Dealing with a Brain Tumor

2011-04-10 01.59.03-1I love being a Christian. Without getting all theological, it’s pretty cool. I have peace. I don’t feel the need to worry. I get to experience a super-awesome kind of love.

So what happened that brought on a brain tumor?
“Where’s your God now?”

“If God loves you so much, how could he let this happen?”

2011-04-10 01.59.03“How can you still believe in God when he gives you a tumor?”

These were a few of the questions friends asked. When they started with this line of interrogation, I’d smile, nod my head, and offer reassurance to them that I’d be just fine. Little did they know I had asked myself those same questions plus a myriad of others after I suffered a seizure and spent hours waiting in an ER curtained room. Where are you, God? Why did this happen? Don’t you love me? What did I do wrong?

2011-04-11 19.31.55My tumor was found April 1, 2011 and had surgery on April 11th. Even though I still carry a few residual effects from the seizure and surgery, I am very fortunate.  Since my ordeal I’ve been amazed to learn how differently people deal with brain tumors. And I found how Christians deal with brain tumors most interesting.

Some pulled closer to God while others pushed away.

If you are a Christian who has dealt with a brain tumor, a family member with a brain tumor or are still dealing with a brain tumor, leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Tell me your story. How did a brain tumor affect your relationship with God? Maybe we can add good stories to the scary ones that always get told.

After SurgeryAll respectable comments or questions are welcomed, ready to be discussed.

Looking forward to hearing from you and having a great on-line conversation.

19 thoughts on “Being a Christian and Dealing with a Brain Tumor

  1. Robin,
    We’ve been blogging buddies for a couple years now and you continue to amaze me with your spirit, faithfulness and encouragement.
    As you may remember, I also have cancer, no, not brain cancer (tumor), but Stage 4 Carcinoid Cancer as well as quite a few other debilitating circumstances, but your story here reminds me of a dear friend that I have made in my church, who came there because he was searching for answers too. He had recently been diagnosed with brain cancer and in fact the previous day to my meeting him, he was just released from the hospital after having the existing tumors removed, stitch staples and shaved head in spots. Because of my unique situation with tumors and cancer, etc. I was able to relate somewhat with him and give him, what I thought was, the best advice possible for his situation: Keep his eyes pointed to the sky – make sure that he is not looking down and getting depressed and thinking “poor is me”, but rather looking to our Saviour, Jesus Christ, for encouragement. He is with us always and never leaves us, no matter how bad our earthly circumstances might look, just remember that we are laying up treasures in heaven rather than riches on earth. The other word of advice that I gave him was to make sure that he is sharing his story, rather, His story, the story of how awesome our God is and what a difference Jesus has made in his life and has made his situation more bearable in the down times. We also have to remember that God is NOT DOING these things to us, but rather He allows these things to happen to us for whatever His reasoning is – whether we might like it at the moment or not.
    I’ve written a little more about my story on my blog at this address: I try to allow Jesus to work in lives through my story as much and as often as I possibly can, but unfortunately never enough. I hope you like it and it helps you and/or your readers.

    God bless you, Robin;
    –Mark Davis

    1. Thanks, Mark, for taking the time to join the discussion. I know in my head that God didn’t cause my tumor, but it’s difficult when you’re in the middle of a crisis not to default into dealing with emotions. That’s why groups that share the burden of brain tumors and cancers is so important. It’s a wonderful opportunity to remind folks of what they know … they may have just forgot because of the dire circumstances surrounding them. No judgment or guilt, just a loving nudge.

      Blessings and good health to you!

  2. My story: I had 2 grand mal seizures on December 2, 2012 and surgery to remove a fist-sized atypical meningioma on January 17, 2013. My tumor came back and on October 15, 2014 I had a gamma knife and have had multiple seizures since.
    The subject at hand: prior to the first surgery I had gotten away from going back to church and being active I the church. After recovery I found myself back. I had always prayed and believed in God but I found myself wanting to be at a place that brought me that incredible peace you mentioned. With the return of me tumor and subsequent epilepsy, I find myself frustrated but every time I begin to think why me I say to myself why NOT me? Being a Christian I know I am a sinner and my sins may not be the biggies but they are no better than others. Do I deserve this, no, but then who does? I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. At least I have my faith to help see me through.

    1. Thanks, Tracey, for sharing your thoughts as well as a snapshot of your journey. Isn’t it funny how difficult times clears away the clutter and rubbish in our lives? Pain and fear help us zero in on what’s important to us.

      Blessings and good health to you.

  3. I have always been a bit of a worrier, obsessing over things I thought I could control, what curtains to put in our living room, what color and decor for the kid’s room. What school is best for our kids to go to when we move. These things would consume me. When I was told I had a brain tumor, I didn’t find myself “worrying.” Yes I did research to arm myself with as much information as possible. I am a Nurse Practitioner (or at least I was before I had children), so knowledge is key for me. But as far as all of the whys and what ifs, I did not obsess or worry. I felt strangely calm about it all. The phrase “give it up to God” played in my head. In church a few weeks after my diagnosis, we sang the old hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.” I broke down a little there that morning, because it is true. He has placed this upon me, he will see me through it and it is well with my soul. This tumor has deepened my faith, and I feel like I have become a better person through it all, appreciating life and health in a different way. People tell me “I will pray for a miracle that it will go away.” That is not what I pray for. I pray for strength, and clarity when decisions have to be made. I saw a quote a few months ago by Ann Voskamp that says “Be Brave. Do not pray for the hard thing to go away, but pray for a bravery to come that is bigger than the hard thing ” I don’t know why I have a brain tumor, and the answer to that question is not for me to know, same as not knowing why other difficult things have happened to my loved ones. For now I will continue to give it all to him, and remain calm about it all. Like my favorite coffee mug says “Keep Calm, it is just a brain tumor.”

    1. Karen, your story brought me to tears! Thank you for sharing. While we all have free will, it’s our choices to how to express ourselves that make great statements.

      You’re a rock star when it comes to bravery and understanding what your purpose is. I so appreciate you for the time you took to write.

  4. I had a grand mal seziure and quit breathing. My husband thought I had died and was screaming at me to breathe. I barely remember somebody yelling from a great distance to breathe. I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance and a CT scan was done. They discovered I had a meningioma brain tumor the size of a peach in my frontal lobes. We were in shock and the first thing I said was to call our minister to get the prayers going. I had to wait over three months for the surgery. In that time I had to work but could not drive. Our minister started a sign up sheet to take Lisha to work. People I did not know well at all volunteered. Those were rough months with the waiting and seizure meds that did me in. I did ask God “why?’. I mean I was faithful, I taught children, I sang in the choir, and my husband was a deacon. God answered me with “why not?’ and He showed me the image of Christ on the cross. As Christians we seem to believe that since we are doing good then bad things should not happen to us. The Bible does not promise us that anywhere. Remember Job! I did have surgery and it was a success. I came out after an 8 hour surgery moving my fingers and toes praising God. I could have had a stroke but did not. Of course I could not sing but I started quoting the words to “Amazing Grace.” To this day I can’t hear that song without crying. I am not healed. I have had more seizures and EEG shows I will always have a tendency for them.I have deficits from having something the size of a peach in my brain for decades. I have another tumor in my head that is being watched. This does not mean God has not taken care of me. He put an excellent neurosurgeon in charge of my care and blessed me with a family that loves and takes care of me. I have friends that pray for me. I have never felt like God was punishing me with a brain tumor. I was being used to show the Glory of God.

    1. Lisha, I LOVE this! Thank you for sharing your experiences. I understand having a new normal, but when I experience a “less than” moment, it reminds me that I did not die. I’ll take “less than” over buried any day!

      Stay healthy and stay in touch!

    2. Lisha, You are an amazing person & I don’t know how I would have made it through my own meningioma journey without you!

  5. Believe it or not, I find the most difficult aspect of dealing with the brain tumor issue as a Christian is all the talk of healing. While I certainly believe that God CAN heal and miracles DO happen, I know that sometimes God says no. I wrestle with mind set a lot. Many people have “claimed” healing for my son, and it sends my mind into a tailspin of not knowing how to set my expectations. For a while I stood firmly on these claims. People seemed to believe so strongly that God WOULD heal my son as though it was a given. Then we got that call no one wants to get. The cancer had spread further into his brain. I began to withdrawl from people at that point and pour myself more into individual devotional time. I just couldn’t hear another person tell me that God was healing my sons cancer when I knew it had already spread. I shared tears with many people over this. I confessed my disbelief and anger. I thought it was a matter of not having enough Faith in Gods ability to heal him. That blame rested squarely on my shoulders. I realized that I was not God and therefore could not cause a certain outcome. I still have to politely make room for others beliefs while setting a boundary that I am not required to share their views on healing. Another thing that I wrestle with is prayer. It is very comforting knowing that so many people are praying for my son. But, I want them to pray for so much more than his healing. There is the brain damage, the setbacks, the day to day anxiety over symptoms, the perpetual limbo we live in, the difficult conversations I must have with my other children, the fact that we grieve the loss of expectation of a full and whole life for our child, the fact that this is very hard on our marriage, the fact that community all but disappears after the initial shock of the news (with the exception of a core group of friends)…there is so much more that is broken here and needs prayer. People tend to focus on John and not know or understand the rest of what we go through, which is why I blog the way I do and choose the subjects I choose. People must know that a persons heart can be broken into a million pieces over and over again, but still have Faith that God cares and loves them through their pain. That is a huge lesson I have learned in this situation.
    Love Faith

    1. Dear Faith –

      I am so glad I found you and your website. Your grasp of what is happening in the life of to your son as well as the rest of your family is staggering. I don’t know if you’ve ever followed anyone on, but you may want to look up Kate McRae. Your story is similar to Holly’s (Kate’s mother).

      I will be directing my blog’s readers to your site,

      Peace to you and your family.

  6. hi, I am a Christian 33year old woman with a braintumor . It brought me closer to God; I think of it being his purpose for me.

  7. Thank you Robin for all that you do. This has helped so many. God works through us every day. I have always said this journey isn’t about me, it’s about the people God put around me along the way. With every set back I say Ok God who is it this time? Someone in the waiting room? parking garage? Hospital? He has a plan and after everything is over I look back and I can see someone I have talked to that I believe he put there just for me. Sometimes I helped them and then sometimes they helped me. If not my words, their words but for sure it was meant to be. I know I am in good hands no matter the outcome. God is always in control.

    1. Oh, Pamela

      You have no idea how I needed to hear your words this very moment. I praise God for his faithful. The ones who are sensitive to His direction. I was one of those who needed a glimpse of heaven today. Thanks again.

  8. Don’t know that you need my added words this long after the fact, Robin. Just wanted to say how powerful the testimony is of someone who’s suffered great loss or risk and has drawn nearer to God, rather than farther away from him. It strengthens us all. So, thank you!

    1. Your words are very kind, Mitch. I appreciate it when people take the time to comment.

      I am working with an editor and putting the final touches on a book regarding the process I went through and how every experience has value. Would you be interested in being a beta reader if I need one? I think this might be in your wheelhouse. If not, no worries. You can DM me on my Facebook site, Robin Gilbert Luftig.

      Thanks again for your feedback.

      1. I’d be happy to if can, Robin. Just committed to writing a screenplay for a film that shoots in the fall, so I’m on a tight schedule.

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