On July 25, 2000, I had life-saving surgery. The best the doctors could figure, an ovarian cyst had been growing in my body for over a year. This was no ordinary cyst!

It started to become really obvious when I went off to college. Instead of gaining the “Freshman Fifteen,” I was losing it. Hey, I didn’t have a car and had to walk everywhere! But that wasn’t the problem. The only part of me that wasn’t shrinking was my stomach.

To this day, I can remember the ugly comments and my hurt feelings about my growing belly. Even as I write this, those memories come flooding back and make me feel sick. But they’re part of my story, and it’s time to share it.

Life-or-Death News

I recall getting a physical because I was transferring colleges. After the doctor said we were through, I brought up one more issue: my stomach had become very hard and was getting more round. I hopped back on the exam table, and as soon as he touched my stomach, he told me there was something wrong and that I needed to go for a test immediately.

When I went for the abdominal ultrasound, the technician took one look at me and said it was clear I had “a big ol’ cyst.” (Yes, those were her words. I’m from the south, after all.) Because the cyst was too large to be measured, she went to get the radiologist. I knew I was in trouble.

From there, my mom and I were sent to see a surgeon. As tears were streaming down our faces, he said I MUST have surgery. It was life-or-death. If I did not have the surgery, the cyst would rupture and I would die, because my body would not be able to absorb all the toxins contained within the incredible mass. He also told me I would never wear a bikini because I “would have one hell of a scar.” (His words!)  As silly as it sounds now, as an 18-year-old girl, that part was the most devastating.

Going Under the Knife

I still remember surgery day so vividly: I wore a t-shirt with the words “Fear Not” on the front and the Bible verse Romans 8:31 on the back. I kept repeating “If God is for me, who can be against me?” That verse rings true today. And I still have the t-shirt.

Everyone thinks it was the drugs—okay, medications—but I had it all planned out. I knew exactly what I was going to say to the doctor before surgery. First, I asked him if he had performed the surgery before. (He had.) Then I asked if he knew my dad was a lawyer. (He did.)  Everyone laughed, but I was still terrified.

After surgery, I opened my eyes and the first person I saw was my dad. My first words were “I made it.” And, by the grace of God, I am still making it. Because GOD is for me. He is for you too, by the way.

Friends, you would NOT believe the size of that cyst! It was tabloid size at fourteen pounds. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard, “That’s like having a baby!” To which I reply:

“Who do you know that has had a FOURTEEN-POUND baby?!?”  or “It’s more like having a set of big twins!” Just sayin’.

It took 34 staples to put me back together. And that was just on the outside. Despite all of the pain medication, I remember so much of my hospital stay: the frustration of a hospital staff member asking me if I had a boy or a girl (“I DID NOT HAVE A BABY!” I yelled); the insane itchiness of my legs under the circulation wraps (and the HOURS it took to get some help for this); the poor bedside manner of one doctor in particular (who said if I did not “cooperate,” he was going to get my father…I said, “Please do!”). But, most importantly, I remember the love and support shown to me by family and friends: the visits, the cards, the gifts, the PRAYERS! I was blessed. (Still am!)

More than Luck

But then I went home to weeks of recovery. The physical recovery was a breeze compared to the emotional one. I was unable to return to college for the fall semester, so I stayed home and returned to work a couple of months after surgery. I didn’t know how to identify it then, but now I realize I experienced a lot of anxiety during that time.  I was afraid—worried I would have more health problems, unsure how to respond to the physical changes I had experienced, and torn between thanking God for His miracle and focusing more on the world than on Him.

Through it all, the Lord was with me. God promised in Hebrew 13:15 to never leave me and never forsake me. And He didn’t.  He also promises in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good for those who love Him. I trust that—my life was saved for a reason. And my goal is to spend my life devoted to the God who offers His saving grace to one and all.

My prayer is that my story helps point others to Him. It became clear to me that He had a plan and purpose for my life. Since that life-saving adventure, God has seen me through trials, and He has led me to triumphs. When we trust in Him, we can be sure that all things will indeed work together for good. After all, the discovery of that medical crisis at just the right time was no luck. It was God’s grace.