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God and a Brain Tumor

Updated on October 15, 2016
Hope Kulin profile image

Hope Kulin is a wife and mother, who also happens to be a brain cancer survivor, candidly sharing her experience the good, bad, and ugly.

For those who have not read my other posts, the cliff note version of my story is that in April of 2010 my husband and I were fired from our job where we worked as a team, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, we lost our house to foreclosure, and I had a full craniotomy and suffered a medical complication that left me with Dementia and Amnesia. If this sounds like a sob story I promise it is not. This has been the journey of a lifetime and while it is not one I would have chosen given the choice, it is not one I would in any way give up.

When I was diagnosed I was by most standards a successful business woman. My husband and I worked together and were making over six figures a year. Everything happened so fast and the way the doctors spoke led us to believe that this surgery was "routine" and things would go back to normal shortly after my surgery. We desperately wanted to believe this and after my surgery I tried to return to work and in my mind everything was fine. I was wrong.

As time progressed we realized the extent of damage done during surgery. This damage will prevent me from ever returning to work, thought that has not been agreed upon by the state. Growing up I placed my self worth in my ability to provide and not depend on anyone, now I found myself in a position that required me to go against everything I had ever known. Up until this point in my life I knew how to do some amazing things. I had a degree in Athletic Training, with a Minor in Exercise Physiology, designed multiple protocols for the world Boxing Commission, worked as a PT in chronic pain, sales, management, owned my own businesses. I was accomplished.

Now I had to enter into the biggest test of my life and one only God could have seen or done. I had to become a wife and mother. With everything I had been trained for, this was something for which I was woefully unprepared. Two weeks prior to my diagnosis I felt the need to return to church. I have always believed in God and have never had any doubts that Jesus was his son, but with a three year old daughter I felt it was time to return to church so that she could learn the same truths that I knew. Funny, many of the truths I will discuss are ones that turned out to be false, but the truth of God has stayed throughout.

As amazing as it seems to me now, when I was diagnosed the pastor was not the first person on my mind. Actually, I did not even think to call the pastor. I called family and friends, but not the pastor. No one called the pastor. Yet, the Sunday following my diagnosis the pastor stopped in the middle of his sermon and made the following statement. "Another pastor in our denomination has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I feel the need to pray for him now, and feel that someone in our congregation has something going on as well. We need to have a call to prayer and if anyone has anything they need to be prayed for please come up now." I asked my friends if they had called, they all said no, but pushed me to the front. I later asked the pastor point blank if he knew before and he has told me that he did not.

Two years later God is still there, I was still not listening

As time progressed we so desperately wanted to believe that we could go back to our old lives that we tried desperately to make this happen. We started two businesses, I convinced family and friends that he was crazy and unwilling to work with me. Neither of us understood how the doctors could say I was "normal" but nothing was like it was. I still did not understand that God had derailed my life for a purpose. I could see no purpose other than as a working woman and business partner. This was the fallacy that God has put so many hours into helping me understand.

After opening our own business I could not understand why my husband was not doing the things he had always done. Prior to the surgery we were a well oiled machine. Business partners, lovers, parents, everything fit... Except that we now had a daughter and 120+ hours per week put into a business simply did not leave any time for her. We did not know this at the time and it was through many years of counseling that we finally have found God's purpose for me and believe me it is nothing that my carnal body or mind willingly submitted to.

At this point I was convinced that my husband was the problem. I could not grasp why he was not wanting to work with me. He even took things a step further and went back to school. This was a breaking point for me. My world had officially shattered and I fully believed that he was going back to school in order to find another woman that he could leave me for.

We were attending church, but our pastor had told me that if I needed additional help through counseling then I was not strong enough in my faith. According to David I had not conveyed what was happening correctly and only told him partial truths. This was not how I saw it, but could find no other way to understand what was happening.

I decided that there was only one option. I had to find a way to support our daughter with the full belief that he was going to leave us. I took over our business and was bound and determined to make it work without him. I did everything I could think of, website, networking, meetings, hiring, you name it. That was when God started to show himself to me in a way that I still cannot believe.

After networking and meetings, I was given the opportunity to meet with one of the larger churches in the area and pitch the concept to him. It was a fundraiser and it was all I had left in my mind. The church did not take on my project, but I was starting to understand God was not done with me yet. Actually, he was just beginning. This contact would become a major spiritual figure in my life in a relatively short period of time.

My husband came to me within weeks of this meeting to announce that we would be switching churches. He did not care where we went, but he was convinced I needed help and I could not get it there. I knew that we had to do something or our marriage was over. There was no way we could continue on the path that we were on. We could not be business partners and we had no idea how to be a husband and wife, but through God we would learn.

A winding path back home

Shortly after we started looking for a different church we ended up back at the church I had pitched on my now failed fundraising program. I was alone at this sermon because David had taken our daughter on a "vacation" to see family. This was a nice way of saying that we sincerely did not know how we were going to make it through. We are too stubborn to give up on our marriage and we knew we would fight through; however, we needed a break. Two weeks, but still a break. At the time I sincerely worried that he would not be coming back.

The same pastor that I had pitched was the one giving the sermon and he brought up the need for counseling for God's people. I felt like I had been hit over the head with a sand bag. I had finally consented to David and was going to personal counseling through the state, but we were far from ok as a couple. To this day I have no idea why I did it, but after the sermon I stayed and went up to this pastor. I told him, "My marriage is falling apart and I have no idea how to fix it, can you help?"

I was a basket case and this was not the first pastor I had spoken to, he was not even the second, but he is the first who said without hesitation that he would if my husband was willing. I told him I would call him as soon as David said yes. It took another two or three months before David and I were in agreement to go to counseling together. I had no idea if this pastor would remember me, or even if he actually cared, but when David said yes, I called.

There were no recriminations, no what took so long, the only thing he said was, "That is wonderful, lets pray." We scheduled to meet with him but our hopes were not high. If I am being brutally honest, I thought it was worthless. My thoughts and feelings were that my life was worthless, I could not hold down a job, my business partner and husband did not want anything to do with me, and he was going back to school which to me was simply one step away from an affair, he simply had not found the right woman yet.

Building on a broken truth

We walked in and I was ready for the pastor to light into my husband about how worthless and unsupportive he was being. After all this is what I had been told previously. To my complete shock the pastor listened to us and looked at David and said, "You have done everything you possibly could to hold it together over the past 3 years haven't you my friend?" David put his head down and said, "Yes." I was in a state of shock. I could not understand what was happening. Didn't he see how David was not willing to be my partner and was going to school to find another woman? I could not wrap my head around it, but the tone hit me more than the words. This was my first encounter with a true man of God giving me a message that I could not comprehend, but he said everything with love and would continue to over the next two years of counseling.

Through counseling I came to find some major truths, and realize that many of the truths I had learned through my life were wrong. Through major counseling with wonderful people of God and even some secular counselors I have found purpose and value that I never would have dreamed possible. Being a mom is a full time job and being a wife is also a full time job. I am blessed with a husband who is about to finish his degree and enter the working world to support us. He has been with me as I navigate my way to the purpose God intended for me all along.

I will be writing about each of these truths as individual hubs. If you or anyone you know is dealing with any form of a cancer diagnosis please please please do not hesitate to get counseling and don't be afraid to look for second and third counselors that fit each of your individual needs. I have a psychiatrist who monitors my medication and stability, two personal counselors one secular and one Christian, and a marriage counselor. Prior to this situation I would never have imagined that I would even see one counselor much less four consistently, but they have all led me to the truth that God has been with me the whole time.


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