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Jun15ThuI faced serious surgery, but God gave me peace. June 15, 2017 by Lieutenant Bethany Dueck
In March 2009, I sat in a doctor’s office to learn the results of an MRI, and heard the words, “We found a large mass growing inside the walls of your spine.” Strangely, I felt a sense of relief. I’d been in pain for many years, but test after test came back with no answers.
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When the pain spread from my lower back to my hips and legs, my doctor started to wonder if it was related to the nervous system, and sent me for an MRI. Although the words “tumour” and “relief” don’t usually go hand in hand, I finally had a solid answer that would lead to moving forward.
As I waited to hear from a specialist, I struggled to keep going as if nothing was wrong. At the time, I was a community youth worker at Chatham-Kent Ministries, Ont., and led a program for kids from the surrounding community on Friday evenings.
I remember one Friday clearly. We played badminton and I cooked large amounts of spaghetti for our meal. Despite my stubborn nature—I insisted on carrying the heavy pots—the reality was that my body was aching, and the pain medication was no longer helping. During the devotional time, one of the young teens asked if she could pray for me. It was extremely moving, because it was so out of the ordinary for her—when she was part of our children’s program, she was often sent home for misbehaving.
Later that night, my family doctor suggested I go to the emergency room. That weekend, I was taken by ambulance to London, Ont., and scheduled for surgery on Monday.
When the surgeon came to talk to me—an unusual occurrence—I knew it was serious. He told me the tumour was entangled in my nerves, and if they removed all of it, I would likely be paralyzed and lose the function of my bladder and bowels. It was a lot to take in, but as the hours passed, I had peace that whatever happened, God would be with me.
After 11 hours of surgery—instead of the expected six—I woke up in the recovery room. I was told they had been able to remove the entire tumour, and I could still move my toes. The relief was overwhelming. Hundreds of people around the world were praying for me, and I believe God answered their prayers. His hand was at work, making the impossible possible.
While recovering in hospital, I received rejection letters from the universities I had applied to, but instead of being disheartened, I found myself in a fit of laughter—thinking, God sure has a sense of humour!—because I wouldn’t have been able to attend school that fall. I began to sense that God had other plans for me.
After the surgery, I went through radiation treatments as a precaution, and received the “all clear” in June. God began to reveal my calling, and by January 2010, I had applied to The Salvation Army’s College for Officer Training (CFOT) in Winnipeg.
Although I was anxious about being a single officer, God gave me assurance over and over that this was his plan. During the winter of 2011, while doing my placement at Winnipeg’s Heritage Park Temple, a friendship began to bloom with one of the corps members, Brian Dueck, and he soon asked me to date him.
On our third date, I asked if he was OK with the fact that my tumour might grow again someday. He replied that he wouldn’t be OK with it, but if it happened, he would be by my side. We were married on July 6, 2013. After our wedding, my parents sent a note to the surgeon, thanking him that I was able to walk down the aisle on my wedding day.
Today, we find ourselves back in Winnipeg as Brian studies at CFOT. I continue to receive clear reports from my doctor, but I know there’s always a possibility the tumour could come back. I have faith knowing that God was with me the first time, and if it does return, he will still be with me, no matter what the outcome. We look to God as he leads us, knowing there will be many challenges and changes along the way, but trusting that he is bigger than anything we will ever face.
Lieutenant Bethany Dueck is the assistant corps officer at Heritage Park Temple in Winnipeg.
(Photo: Carson Samson)