Written by guest contributor Erin Mashaw
In the fall of 2020, I experienced sudden onset hearing loss in my left ear. After hoping it would go away (surely it was some kind of sinus pressure or something), and then eventually getting an MRI, I was told by my doctor that the hearing loss was because of a brain tumor that was pressing on my cochlear nerve. It was small and slow-growing, but I would need surgery to remove it.
I think when I first heard that news, I was numb. I went back to work after the appointment as though nothing had happened. But when I got home that night and began researching my diagnosis, I was overwhelmed and overcome with fear. I mean, I’d been putting off getting my wisdom teeth removed for years because of fear, and now I’d be having brain surgery?!?
For a couple of days, I couldn’t event talk about it. (If you really know me, you’d know that I’ve never in my life been unable to talk about anything.) I texted my extended family and my small group, telling them the situation, asking them to pray, and letting them know I wasn’t ready to talk yet.
And after a few days, even though I still couldn’t really say it out loud yet, I wrote a blog post sharing my news. You can read it here. Immediately after sharing that post, I began hearing from friends near and far. I felt loved, supported and prayed for. I wasn’t alone!
But the most meaningful thing that happened was hearing from several Lighthouse families we had served on a previous Retreat. Families we had loved and supported through childhood cancer were reaching out, loving and supporting us with this new and scary diagnosis.
One called me almost immediately to let me know she knew exactly how I felt. She said she remembered feeling the same way when her daughter was diagnosed. And in our conversation, there was no comparison of pain, no sign of trying to “one-up” each other or prove who had it worse. There was just empathy, encouragement, and hope. She prayed with me, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
There’s beauty found in community the way it’s meant to be. It’s a safe place to share our stories without judgement. And whether your child has cancer or you’re just going through a difficult season, it’s so important to share your story. We’re not meant to walk this road alone.
**If you’re curious about my journey, I had surgery in March of this year. It’s been an incredible journey of learning to trust God in spite of fear, but that’s a story for another day. Life after surgery is pretty different from before, but I’m so grateful for the way we’ve experienced God’s love and presence through the people around us. I’m tumor-free and moving forward with a stronger faith and a deeper community.