Today in church an athletic, energetic, cheerful 16 year old, James Neuberg, and his family shared an amazing event that occurred a few weeks prior to Christmas. A persistent nosebleed resulted in a trip to Children's Hospital and a brain scan revealed an aggressive tumor had actually eaten through the bone in his skull. It was a massive size--in fact James' mom said the doctors had to expand the tumor grades to a 4+ as it was the biggest they had ever seen. Within 24 hours of the diagnosis James underwent two separate surgeries, one to cauterize blood vessels to prevent excessive blood loss and the second surgery was to remove the tumor. The first surgery took nearly 6 hours. They were relieved that he survived the first surgery without incident as one blood vessel inadvertently blocked could have resulted in a stroke.
During the second surgery the following day the family was alerted to extreme complications in trying to remove the large mass. Christy, James' mom, said the nurse called them in the waiting area and explained it might be many more hours of painstaking surgery as the tumor was much more embedded in James' brain than expected. Routine landmarks like the nasal cavity were essentially invisible to the surgeon--it was like working in a dark hole. Christy's dad and the rest of the family got to their knees immediately praying for a miracle and at the same time over the loudspeaker at Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School, the entire student body was asked to pray. In addition, Christy signed onto the Caring Bridge site from the hospital computer to request more fervent prayer. Less than 30 minutes since the nurse's call from the surgery room to expect many more hours of surgery, the nurse called Christy again to say the tumor had just "popped out" and they got it all. Christy shared with Kettlebrook Church today that the surgeon explained in detail how the fingerlike projections or "tentacles" of the tumor just seemed to release their grip. Christy said the terms used by the surgeon in describing the sudden release of the tumor were essentially the exact terms prayed to God by James' grandfather in the hospital's chapel. To see this young man, so strong and energetic at the front of the high school auditorium today, one would never have suspected that just a few weeks earlier he was undergoing life-saving brain surgery.
In common West Bend style, Ron went to school with James' mom and coincidentally saw her and her daughter at Pier 1 on December 21st. Ron and Auburn were looking for a new papazzan chair cushion as a diversion from events earlier in the day, as that morning our dog died. Bucky had used Auburn's papazzan cushion as his bed for many years and it was time for a replacement. When they ran into Christy and her daughter at Pier 1 she offered her daughter's papazzan cushion for Auburn to save us money. She said they were planning to take it to Goodwill the next day and it was in perfect condition. Christy never even mentioned their family's recent experience to Ron, she only showed compassion to Auburn in her sadness.
When I saw the newspaper article a few days later and heard the Neuberg's speak at church today I was astounded. Miracles happen every day---our interactions with one another have purpose...we all have struggles, sometimes we share them and sometimes we keep them silent....nonetheless our lives intertwine in unexpected and miraculous ways, sometimes in person or sometimes across the miles via media like Caring Bridge and facebook
My hope for my family and for yours is for miracles to be revealed to us all in 2012. Whether it be your health, your finances, your family, your children, your relationships; may our interactions at school, at the gym, at work, at the store, or on the road build strength, faith, love and hope in 2012.