A good brother of mine once told me ‘Nothing happens to the life of a believer without the permissive will of God’. This has been the perfect mantra with which I can associate my life right now.
Back in 2004, I was diagnosed with Multifocal Giant Cell Tumors on my spine; and I have been battling the disease ever since. I have had five (5) major surgeries, numerous radiation therapies, physical rehab sessions and it has been ‘interesting’ to say the least. My family and I have been through a lot, and without help from them, friends and God, I would have given up. What I found interesting was the transformation this disease has made in my life.
When I was diagnosed with this disease my first thought was ‘Why me, Lord?’. It was hard for me to accept it because I tried to take good care of myself. I did not drink or smoke. I did not do drugs. I was a young man with a beautiful wife and two very young kids. I didn’t have any vices (I ate a lot but that was it, nothing really excessive :-)).
After being diagnosed, there were doubts and times when I felt helpless, especially when the MRIs and scans didn’t look good. The tumors seemed to be getting bigger and bigger, and multiplying. There were times when I felt like nothing was going right for me, and my family was starting to suffer because of my suffering. During these times I started praying hard, I tried looking beyond the surface and did my best to understand and get a perspective on why this was happening and what could be the reason behind all these.
That’s when I started to slowly understand the permissive will of God. He did not cause these things to happen to me, but He allowed it. I believe the different emotions I felt — sorrow, sadness, loneliness, helplessness – were part of His plan to help me understand who I really am, to help me experience what it is to be human, to purify and prepare me for the good things to come. I am pretty sure God was with me the whole time of pain and suffering.
After a few years things started to get better, my body recovered from the surgeries, the treatments started working and a new drug specifically designed for my type of tumor was discovered. This was the time when I realized and understood the plan of God. By letting me experience sorrow I understood real joy, by experiencing sadness I understood real happiness. When my sorrows turned to joy it was the type of joy I have never experienced before. When sadness became happiness it was happiness I never experienced before. It seemed like everything in my life was magnified. I have learned to love and appreciate everything in my life.
The love I had for my wife and kids before is nothing compared to the love I have for them right now. I believe my faith is stronger than it has ever been. I can say that I am living my life to the fullest and I can say it is because of His permissive will. Making me feel the negative emotions really made me appreciate the positive ones.
Now I am thankful for each day He gives me. I continue to be faithful to Him, act according to His will, sing praises to Him and really be grateful for even giving me the opportunity to live this life. For letting me experience the joy of having my wife, my family, my friends and especially my kids.
I would like to thank my family, friends, CFC FFL Michigan and Budd Lake-NJ family (especially brother Arnel (who told me about the line above)) and our NJ household heads Randy and Rose. Thank you all for the prayers, support and the never ending inspiration.
It is really an honor to be able to share my faith and my love for God with each and everyone of you.
– Tristan Valdenor
[note: According to BoneTumor.org: Giant cell tumor accounts for 5 to 9 percent of all primary bony tumors. Most patients present with slowly progressive pain, with or without a mass. Symptoms arise when the lesion begins to destroy the cortex and irritate the periosteum or when the weakening of the bone caused by the tumor causes pain due to imminent pathologic fracture. Some giant cell tumors present with a pathologic fracture. Radiologic findings demonstrate the lesion is most often eccentrically placed to the long axis of the bone. The center is most radiolucent with increasing density towards the periphery. Treatment of giant cell tumors is by surgery only.]