This week I write Millennial Monday with one particular thing on my mind, or one person I should say. I’m going to be incredibly transparent and share something I don’t generally share with just anyone, because I am asking for specific prayers. My 28-year-old brother, Joel, will have brain surgery on Friday and I am selfishly using my blog to ask for your prayers.
Joel’s journey is an incredible one. Three years ago, he was staying at my parent’s house when they heard some strange noises from his room. My dad went to find Joel having a seizure and mostly unresponsive.
After an ambulance ride to the hospital and many tests that would provide answers to why my then-otherwise healthy 25-year-old brother would have a massive seizure, we found out that Joel had a brain tumor in his front left lobe.
By the end of the week he was in surgery to have the tumor removed. Surgery went as planned, Joel’s tumor was removed and thankfully had grown in a ball, rather than a spider web fashion, and we found out it was stage 2 cancer. The good news was that the incredible team of doctors successfully removed the entire tumor, meaning no further form of treatment was required for Joel.
Having a tumor-sized gap in Joel’s brain did however mean he was susceptible to seizures, and would need to take a seizure medication for the rest of his life. In case you didn’t know, seizures aren’t good for your brain, so keeping the number of seizures Joel had to a minimum was important.
Along with brain surgery came many other things that someone who hasn’t gone through that situation themselves or with a family member would never realize.
To start, Joel couldn’t drive a car for six months, because in the state of Oklahoma you aren’t allowed to drive for six months after a seizure. So Joel had to have family members drive him from point A to point B, or take public transportation, which in the state of Oklahoma is not as easy as it might be in a large metropolitan area.
In addition to his driving restrictions, much of Joel’s life became doctors’ appointments and he was, rightfully so, closely monitored by family and friends to make sure he wouldn’t have another seizure.
Fast forward to last summer, Joel had mostly gotten on with his life. The tumor and brain surgery were behind him, and all he had to do was continue to take seizure medication and visit his doctor every six months for an MRI to make sure everything in his brain was normal.
However, tragically, one summer night Joel had somewhere around five undetected seizures, and no one found him because he lived on his own. After not hearing from him for an unusual amount of time, his fiancé, Kelli, went to check on him and found him unresponsive and in extremely poor condition.
When he arrived at the hospital the doctors and nurses feared for his life because of the effects of not being treated for so long after multiple seizures. Joel was in the ICU for two days and the hospital for, I believe, eight days total. It took him nearly 48 hours to wake up from his coma-like state, in which we as his family waited anxiously for good news.
This was much different than the stay at the hospital for his brain surgery. This time, Joel had a lot of memory loss. Initially, he didn’t remember most of our family. He had to re-learn names and who was dad, who was a sister, even who his fiancé was.
In some ways, it was like Joel had started over, and we had to teach him his likes and dislikes. However, when he still couldn’t remember maybe what city he was in, he could sing full songs that he had always loved, and definitely remembered that he was a hardcore OU fan. These things about Joel were incredibly encouraging.
Here we are, months later, and we found out through an MRI scan that my mom ordered because of what I believe was the Lord’s leading, that the tumor had returned to the size it was three years ago. His doctors say it is what most-likely caused his seizures last summer and will need to be removed.
It seems daunting, just as his sister, to believe that Joel and the rest of our family must go through this process again. We want Joel to live the life that most 28-year-olds get to live, without having to worry about brain tumors or surgery. I can’t imagine how Joel truly feels.
Yet, it seems Joel, his fiancé and my parents, who are the people most directly affected by this process, are at peace. Joel attends TheChurch.at Downtown in Tulsa, where my parents also attend, and the congregation laid hands on Joel and prayed blessings upon him. I can’t imagine any of us going through this process without the body of Christ surrounding us like they have time and time again.
Here is where I need your help. I believe in praying for specific things. I believe that if we pray for Joel’s healing that the Lord hears these prayers and wants to give us the desires of our hearts. This is my heart’s desire.
Right now, we are praying that when Joel goes in for his pre-surgery MRI, the tumor is miraculously gone, because we know that God is the God of miracles and that He hears our cries. That is our primary prayer. Would you join me in praying that?
If the tumor is still there on Thursday, I ask that you pray for Friday, the day of the scheduled brain surgery. I pray that the Lord would guide the hands of the surgeon and give Joel the strength he needs to endure this procedure.
Most of all, I pray that the Lord will rid Joel’s body of this cancer. I pray that for the rest of Joel’s long and happy life he can tell of the miraculous way that the Lord healed him and made his body new.
Thank you for taking the time to read about Joel’s journey. I pray that his testimony is one that is far-reaching and brings glory to God. He has already done so much good and healing in Joel’s life, we pray that this is another way Joel can sing His praises and share the Good News of the Gospel and ultimate Healer.