EDITOR'S NOTE: The Times Free Press is continuing a series of stories from readers about life experiences they attribute to divine intervention. We'll publish another each week as your stories continue to arrive. If you have a God Thing to share, email Life@timesfreepress.com, or mail to Life Department, Chattanooga Times Free Press, 400 E. 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403.
This week, Lynne Kyle of Chattanooga describes the medical emergency she had while on a Caribbean cruise that led to her being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
In July of 2006, my family planned a cruise to St. Thomas and St. Maarten. My brother and sister and their families joined my husband, Larry, and me.
I remember St. Thomas was wonderful. I got to snorkel for the first time, and I loved it. This was also our 35th anniversary, and my husband bought me a diamond ring. I remember looking at the jewelry and buying the ring, but some things I don't remember because I was very tired that evening.
During the night, our ship sailed to St. Maarten. I remember eating breakfast with everyone and getting off the boat. We started walking on the dock toward the shuttle vans.
That's the end of my story. The rest is what my family told me later.
The van stopped at the first overlook. Everyone got out, and they gave me the camera to take a picture. I didn't know how to use the camera, so the driver got the camera and I went and stood by my husband. My family started realizing that I wasn't responding to their questions correctly. I was playing with my pocketbook, but I told them I was reading. They asked me my name, and I quoted my father's name. Someone asked me what my dogs' names were, and I told them Jody and Jeffrey, even thought I'd never had male dogs.
My family thought I was having a stroke. My brother, Terry, got me back onto the ship and into the infirmary. The nurse told them that everything was happening because I had a sea sickness patch on. They took it off and made me drink water. I started coming around but then had a severe seizure. The ship's medical staff didn't seem to know what to do for me. My sister-in-law Sandy, a registered nurse, and my sister, Marcia, stepped in and started helping. The ship called the Coast Guard to get an ambulance to take me to the hospital.
The hospital wanted only my husband to be with me, but Sandy, my personal-angel RN, told them she was going to stay with me too. (The language was English, but everyone spoke it with a French accent, and my husband couldn't understand them.) Sandy had all of my medical information, and she got on the phone trying to reach a U.S. doctor. (You cannot be flown back into the states unless you have a doctor "accept" you.) She finally called her co-workers, and they found a neurosurgeon who accepted me. Then they arranged a medical flight to take me back home.
The ship was pulling out of the port at 5:30 that evening, and the family with us at the hospital had to get back. Unfortunately, they missed getting to see St. Maarten that day.
The jet finally got there that night and flew me and my husband back to Chattanooga. We were met by an ambulance, which took us to a local hospital. I was still unconscious. My children, who weren't on the cruise, came and stayed with my husband. It would be four more days before the rest of the family got home from the cruise.
The hospital did an MRI, which showed I had a tumor on the left side of my brain. They treated me by giving me steroids to reduce the size of the tumor for 10 days before the operation, a craniotomy, could be performed. I don't remember those 10 days. I just call it God's time. I do remember asking everybody to pray for me before I had the surgery, but I can't remember who the people were.
My tumor was diagnosed as anaplastic oligoastrocytoma, malignant, Stage 3 (the scale is 1-4, designating tumor cells that are almost normal, slightly abnormal, definitely abnormal or very abnormal).
I'm not sure when I knew God had touched me. I never had the first headache or any aches or pain. I know that when I was snorkeling, I would have died if I'd had the seizure then. I had family with us that would help take care of me and my husband. I had a lot of co-workers and friends who visited and prayed with me before the surgery. I had a great doctor taking care of me. After my surgery, I was visited by a pastor and several of his congregation who invited us to church. I had the privilege of seeing my husband get back into church and become a deacon.
Everyone should know that bad things can happen to good people. It can also happen at any time. Five seconds from now, five months from now, something can hit you that you never thought about. It could end your life.
I see God's touch in all of this. I'm thankful that God gifted me with this cancer. It's kept me very humble and thankful for each day. I certainly celebrate every birthday he's given me. God's mercy is great. He told me that when I walked through the valley of death, I was not to fear it. He would always be there to comfort me, and he has been. I know that his will is still being done.
It's been 13 years since I had this operation. My primary doctor told me that I was a "miracle" after two years, and my surgeon had me stop getting my annual MRI after 10 years. God is great!
— Lynne Kyle, Chattanooga