I prefer living in a fantasy world. It is more fun. As a child, I loved reading fiction. I grew up dreaming and pretending, because my childhood seemed boring and uneventful. Nancy Drew Mysteries filled my days with excitement!
I accepted Jesus into my heart as a small child, but never gave much thought to God having a PLAN for my life.
My dreams began coming true! I married a wonderful Christian man and, a year later, had a perfect baby girl.
Then, reality hit when – after sixteen months – our second child, a baby boy, was born with CANCER. My world collapsed.
The fabricated fiction and fantasy stories suddenly lost their appeal. Within a span of probably 48 hours, I couldn’t pretend anymore.
THIS was God’s plan for my life?
How quickly life can take a serious turn.
The following is our story:
After we brought our beautiful 6 pound baby boy home from the hospital, he would scream in pain every time his diapers were changed. At first, I was convinced it was my fault. He was my first boy. Perhaps, I was putting on his diaper too tightly? However, it also happened when Duane diapered him, or my mom. By day 13, I had enough.
Duane spent an hour examining our son after work that afternoon. He pulled and pushed, poked and prodded and concluded there was tenderness in our baby’s right hip. He told me to go into the pediatrician’s office, the next day, and not come home without a diagnosis. Duane suspected a hip infection.
Early the next morning, I piled my newborn, our 16 month old daughter and all my baby paraphernalia into the car, expecting a long day. The doctor, after a two hour wait and a general exam of our son, as kindly as possible, tried to explain away our baby’s discomfort as OUR “new parents’ nerves.”
“No,” I stated firmly – our 16 month old daughter sitting on my lap – “we are not nervous parents. There is something wrong with our baby’s hip.”
Reluctantly, the doctor sent me to a colleague of his – a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. We drove straight there. After another two hour wait, he spent an hour taking x-rays and tests, siphoning fluid from our baby’s hip and then, sent us home. I was assured the results would be back in a couple days. We went home exhausted.
In those days, in order not to be disturbed by phone calls, I took the phone off the hook (Yes, the telephone was connected by a cord to the wall in our home office) and babies and I went down for naps.
It hadn’t been 30 minutes before I was awakened by a screeching noise, coming from the other room. A horrible sound was coming from our phone. I quickly hung up the receiver to make it stop.
As soon as the receiver was on the hook, the telephone instantly rang. I answered. It was the police department saying Daniel Freeman Hospital was trying to contact us. Immediately, they connected me to a hospital operator.
“Your doctor wants you to bring your baby boy to the hospital within the hour. Your husband has been notified at his work and is on his way home.”
What happened next is foggy in my memory. Our doorbell rang; it was a lady from church. She took over. (Apparently, hospital staff had called my parents and they had orchestrated everything.) Marilyn dressed our baby as I got dressed. She would watch our sleeping daughter as long as needed. Duane walked in the front door.
We drove to the hospital in silence. It was the first time I had prayed in days. Why is it I forget to talk to God when life is busy?
Arriving at the hospital, we were met by a whole TEAM of doctors.
The sample, taken from our baby’s hip, had shown cancer cells in the marrow of his right femur bone. X-rays showed a cancerous banana shaped tumor in the top of the bone where it met his hip- with “fingers” of the tumor growing into the leg. They scheduled surgery in 24 hours – even though it meant operating on a Sunday.
We met with a surgeon from UCLA who was going to assist our doctor. We were told it looked bleak. They would do all they could to save his life and his leg. Sadly, babies born with cancer (at that time) had a 10% survival rate.
This surgery, on a six pound and 15 day old baby, should take about an hour. It took five hours. The longest five hours of our lives.
I will never forget the words told us in the hospital hallway that Sunday afternoon.
The very stoic, professional UCLA surgeon said, “If I am ever to believe in a Supreme Being – your baby will be instrumental.” He explained, “We went in surgery expecting to simply explore. Because cancer spreads too quickly in infants, recovery rate is minimal. However, when we examined the tumor, it suspiciously looked benign. The fingers from the x-ray, taken two days previous were GONE. So, we decided to remove the tumor.”
He continued, “We took out everything- leaving a string of a bone from his hip to his knee. I cannot promise you he will keep his leg, or if his bone will grow back; but, we believe he will live.”
He used the word “suspiciously”– and, we translated “miraculously.” You see, during the previous 48 hours, hundreds and hundreds of people had been praying. God had performed a miracle. We were SO unbelievably grateful.
Mark was transferred to Neonatal Critical Care ward, Centinela Hospital, Inglewood. We spent ten more days in the hospital – Mark in his hospital crib and me sleeping on the chair. Every day, the prognosis looked better. The next 15 months were spent in physical therapy with drips of chemotherapy. His right leg grew slower than his left. At one year his right leg was an inch shorter than his left. We still didn’t know what God planned to do with this precious miracle; but, we knew He had a plan.
At his five year old check-up, big sister Nancy sat on the bed with him. His three year old brother, John, stood close by and Mark was given a complete clean bill of health! Cancer FREE. What a celebration we had!! That day, Mark was the same height standing on both legs and, today, he stands 6’1” on both legs. He is our miracle.
Today, Mark is a pastor/chaplain at St Mary’s and All Angels Christian School, reaching kids with the Gospel of Jesus Christ every day of his life. He has an amazing wife, Anne, and three beautiful little girls.
God chose to heal our son. God had a plan for his life. We are beyond thankful!
And, Mark had a choice of what to do with the plan. He could follow the Lord or not.
God has a plan for every life. Everyone has a choice whether to follow Him or not.
God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (The Message)
To this day, I attempt to keep my ‘pretending’ mostly in writing my musical theatre plays. (And, of course, playing with the grandkids) I still like my dream world; but, it is not what rules me. I want to make sure I’m always following God’s plan for my life.
“I KNOW whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
II Timothy 1:12