Shortly after Taylor and Mike began dating, Mike started to experience vertigo-like symptoms that prompted him to get an MRI. At the age of 28, Mike had a brain tumor that would later be diagnosed as a rare form of CNS Lymphoma. After a surgical procedure and round of chemo, Mike showed no signs of cancer. “At that point, in our minds, Jesus had healed him, and it really was a miracle,” Taylor recalls.
Shortly thereafter, Mike and Taylor got engaged and focused on getting him better. “Through that whole time it was just about taking it one day at a time and focusing on getting him healed, balancing doctors and your faith…then we got married and we lived our lives after that.”
A new job opportunity for Mike prompted them to move to Richmond, Virginia. After three years of facing the anxiety of regular check-ups every six months, doctors found “a small something” that was growing during one of these check-ups.
“Deep down, I always knew that the chance of Mike’s cancer coming back was really great. It just wasn’t one of those easy things. Despite that, we lived our lives for those three years just really confident in what Jesus had done. We tried not to live in fear each day that it would come back.” But when it did, Taylor was seven months pregnant with their first child.
During a time that was supposed to be the happiest time of their lives, Taylor and Mike were also going through the worst. Mike started an intense round of chemo that required him to be hospitalized for several days. However, due to God’s faithfulness, Mike was able to be with Taylor during the delivery of their baby daughter, Charlotte.
Soon after, they learned that Mike’s tumor had grown and that the current chemo treatment was not working. It was time to do something drastic – getting help from some of the best doctors located at MD Anderson in Houston. With a two-week-old baby, Mike and Taylor packed up everything to move across the country. They knew this was what they had to do. “This was God’s way of bringing us home to be surrounded by people who love us and can take care of us,” Taylor said.
Despite Mike’s rapidly declining health, Taylor wanted him to experience what it was like to be a father and took care of him the best way she knew how. “Throughout this whole time, I tried to remember that you have to take it one day at a time and you can’t worry about the future. You just have to trust that whatever will be is ordained by God and that’s all you need to know.”
Mike was eventually hospitalized for pain that was worsening by the day. “We realized that this was it. At that point, it was just about making Mike comfortable. It could be weeks or it could be days, but at that point all we had was prayer,” Taylor recalls.
“While that was devastating news, I felt like God had prepared my heart for it.”
It was a struggle for Taylor because she never wanted to feel like she was giving up on God’s ability to heal Mike. “I always believed – until the last day when Mike died – that if Jesus wanted to heal Mike, he would. It was possible.”
When Mike moved to hospice, they were able to leave Houston and return to Austin to be surrounded by family and friends. The elders of The Austin Stone Community Church came to pray around Mike and encourage Taylor.
“I learned that I wasn’t giving up on Christ’s ability to heal all sick and all disease. But I believed that if God’s ultimate way of healing him was through his grace and eternal life and taking him home … then that was his path. That is what had to happen.”
Though Taylor experienced sadness and confusion at the end of Mike’s journey, she always had peace. Now, a year later, she feels like her faith has grown drastically.
“Before I met Mike, I was guilty of coasting and being content with my walk with Jesus. When you are suffering, you are in constant conversation with God. I thank God for what happened to me,” she says. “When you suffer, your character is refined to look more like Jesus. Blessings outweigh the suffering, and new life came from our relationship.”
Taylor is facing the challenge of going back to a normal life but wanting to live it differently. “I have been changed and I don’t want that to go to waste. So what do I do now? How do I take what has happened and use it for my character and for others? I’ve been given a gift so I don’t want to waste it.”
Story written by Traci Barrera