Finding God's Presence Through Life's Toughest Circumstances

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About the Author - Mary Pappas

At the age of 23 I was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the thymus gland, or what is known as thymoma.  A thymoma is a rare tumor in which the thymus gland (which is more prominent in childhood then usually shrinks as we get into adult hood) turns into a large mass, or tumor in the chest cavity.  As a young newlywed, I began to experience chest pain.  After several tests, it was discovered that I had a large thymoma in my chest cavity.  The mass was wedged between my heart and lung. I then underwent "open-chest" surgery to remove the large tumor with a follow-up of 25 radiation treatments to my chest.  As a few years passed, I longed to be a mother. One day as while praying and reading the bible I turned to the Book of Samuel and the story of Hannah.  Hannah was barren though she longed to have a child.  One day as she prayed the temple priest saw her praying in despair and prayed God would give her the desire of her heart.  she told God if she were to have a son she would dedicate him to the Lord.  I told the Lord I would certainly dedicate any child I would have to Him as well.  It was June 25th, 1987.  A rain shower passed by.  I happened to go outside and look up into the sky.  There I saw a double rainbow in the sky.  I believed it was God's promise to me that I would be a mother some day, and since there were two rainbows, I took it as I would have twins.

 A year later I discovered I was
pregnant. There was not a doubt in my mind that this was God's promise being fulfilled.  But I was shocked to discover I was indeed pregnant, but I also learned that same week that I had a recurrent thymoma to the pleura of my right lung.  Uncertain what to do, my husband and I traveled to Roswell Cancer Hospital in Buffalo.  Surgery was recommended. After a thoracotomy, I had a subsequent miscarriage.  Certain God has missed His opportunity for a miracle in my life, I was heartbroken. I really needed to hear God's voice. Three months later I learned I was pregnant again, and miraculously I was carrying twin boys.  Their lives were an undeniable miracle of God's faithfulness! 

Our lives were rich and full for many years, until the boys were in kindergarten, and I began not feeling well.  A CAT scan revealed a massive reoccurrence of the thymoma which wrapped around my diaphragm and the retro-peritoneal cavity of my back.  It was too massive for surgery.  Chemotherapy did little to change the status of the
tumor which began to grow again one the four courses of chemotherapy ended..   As I was down to the wire, experiencing pain along my spinal cord I was offered an experimental study of a double stem cell transplant.  The patient had to be classified as terminal.  Unfortunately, I qualified.  Soon after through a series of miraculous events, I found a heart-lung transplant surgeon who was willing to attempt the surgery.  In January of 1997 the successful surgery was completed.  Along with the tumor, the surgeon took my the lower lobe of my right lung, some pieces of my ribs and my diaphragm, replacing it with a type of mesh.  Three weeks
of radiation treatments along my spine were also completed.  My life had returned to normalcy; taking care of our small boys who were in 1st grade. 

Then in 2003, a routine cat scan showed a small mass on my liver. During the surgery to remove the tumor from my liver, my liver had attached itself to a mesh lining in my abdomen.  When surgeons attempted to peel my liver off of the mesh, I began to hemorrhage and slipped into  a coma for nearly 2 weeks...until the Lord woke me up!  Later in 2008 and 2009 additional tumors showed up on cat scans. There were two small tumors in the right lung, which were zapped with a cyber-knife, and the tumor on the liver was treated with the Trilogy radiation system.  Both masses are gone!

As of a week ago, my last cat scan was completely clear!  Hallelujah!

My medical history can make your head spin, but none of these stories is nearly as important as the divine appointments and miracles the Lord wrought in my life during these low times.  My life is the story of God's incredible mercy and grace.  My story is a living testimony that He knows and cares for you intimately, as He knows me.   


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