Allies in a teen’s cancer fight
From messages and prayers to mowing their lawn, Chris Thompson and Melissa Thompson have drawn strength from acts large and small that God has used to remind them how many allies they have as their son, Hunter, 14, battles brain cancer.
That support continues to grow with a new GoFundMe page, and wristband fundraiser by Triad Baptist members.
Sonja Eads, a nurse at Brenner Children’s Hospital, created the GoFundMe account for Hunter. She works at the same hospital where doctors discovered Aug. 22 that his latest headaches weren’t migraines but the result of a large glioma brain tumor.
In the span of 24 hours, Hunter went from a teenager facing what his family thought was another migraine to a six-hour surgery that could only remove about 70 percent of the tumor because of its location.
During the operation, Hunter suffered a stroke and is now continuing his recovery from its effects and the surgery with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy at the J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging and Rehabilitation.
“When I heard Hunter had a brain tumor and needed surgery, I first began to pray for God’s wisdom and discernment for all involved in his care,” Eads said. “No parent wants to hear their child has a brain tumor and needs chemotherapy. That kind of news makes your heart skip a few beats.
“I knew only God had control over Hunter’s surgery and the healing process. As I was praying and seeking how God could use me to help the Thompsons, God spoke to me as a believer through a verse in Corinthians (2 Corinthians 1:4) that my job is to comfort those in need as He has comforted me in my own trials. I knew my role was to be the hands and feet of Jesus by encouraging and lending help wherever it was needed and, in this case, to hopefully decrease some of the stress they were experiencing.”
With Melissa’s approval, Eads set up the GoFundMe page Aug. 25 for the Thompsons. Since the site requires a goal amount, Eads picked $5,000 — figuring another could be created later if the current goal was met and needs remained.
“The GoFundMe page felt like a central way for others to support them,” Eads said. “All money raised goes to them. God places different people in our lives in every season of life. I continue to pray for God to use me how He sees fit to be a small light in this time of darkness in the Thompson’s life. Their faith has not wavered.
“I see them praying and seeking God through it all. Everything we do should be to give all the Glory to God! I praise God for all He has planned for Hunter’s life.”
Like Eads, whose youngest son, Evan, is a friend of Hunter’s and who has served alongside the Thompsons in AWANA and other ministries, Kim Lindholm felt a strong call to do something to help her friends when the cancer news hit.
Her way to help her own family and others keep Hunter’s cancer battle and need for constant prayer top of mind, and provide financial help? An orange wristband (Hunter’s favorite color) with gray letters (the color for brain cancer awareness).
One side has a Bible verse from the book of Joshua; the other declares the last words Hunter told his parents before surgery, “It will all work out.”
“I work with the middle school youth and the idea for the wristbands came about from a desire to find a way for them and others who may not have a lot to give, to raise funds and remember Hunter and his family in prayer,” said Lindholm, whose wristband fundraiser follows other acts of love — including a prayer pillow created by Carol Purrington and signed by nearly 200 children at Triad’s Kids Street Children’s Church and videos of encouragement from his fellow scouts of Boy Scout Troop 779.
“With Hunter being in constant rehab at this time,” Lindholm said, “people may not be able to see him, but the wristband will be a constant reminder to pray for him and way for them to still stay connected to him, and to the God who is our healer.”
The bracelets will be available at Triad this Sunday for $2 each. Lindholm plans to order more if they sell out.
“I was in the waiting room during his surgery and was able to spend some time talking with Chris,” said Lindholm, who has served with Melissa in women’s and children’s ministry and with both Thompsons in AWANA.
“When speaking with him, and knowing Hunter and his amazing faith in God, what Chris told me Hunter told him last before surgery was no surprise,” she said. “He said Hunter had such a peace about what he was about to face. Those words, ‘It will all work out’ continuously came to mind from that moment on. So I wanted to find a way to let others know that this is what Hunter believes: That his God is bigger than any tumor. Then the verse Joshua 1:9 came to mind. ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid: Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ Hunter knows this. I have thought all week that this is what we teach our kids and hope and pray that they understand through life.
“Let’s draw strength from Hunter’s example and glorify God for who He is and remind ourselves that, with God guiding us too, ‘It will all work out.’ I have never seen Hunter without a huge smile on his face. His joy lights up a room, and his faith and spirit are inspiring.”
Lindholm said the youth will have the bracelets available for purchase Sunday between the first and second services. People interested in purchasing one also can call her at (336)399-6806.
From the Sticht Center with Hunter, Chris relayed how crucial faith and support have been to the family (Melissa, Chris, Hunter and their other son, Ethan) since the doctor’s words, “We’ve discovered a growth in your son’s head.”
“I immediately was praying,” Chris said of the call bringing news about Hunter while he recuperated from a knee operation himself.
“I think I took ‘pray without ceasing’ to a new level,” Chris said. “I asked the Lord to be with each and every healthcare worker who came into contact with my son. We had so many people reaching out to us asking, ‘What can we do to help?’ Every answer was the same, ‘PRAY!’
“Facebook has its share of negativity but with Hunter’s situation, it actually brought much comfort and calmness to the situation,” Chris said. “We were astonished to look on Facebook and see how quickly word spread. The responding support was overwhelming. We could not get over the number of people who were following the situation and reposting each update.
“I’ve come to the point where I can’t read Facebook without the comments moving me to tears,” he added. “It really spoke to us and made us realize how many people genuinely cared and wanted to help. My phone had texts coming in so fast I’m surprised it didn’t melt. It seemed like everyone I had ever known was reaching out to us to let us know they were praying or they were asking how they could help. Even after the surgery, we are still seeing and feeling the support.”
And Chris said God is using that support to encourage and inspire.
“God has blessed us with a great supportive church, a tightknit community, and loving friends,” he said. “We would like to thank everyone who has reached out to us and what the texts, calls, emails, prayers and other acts of love and concern have meant. They’ve definitely helped us cope with the shock factor of this turn of events. With support like this, we can make it through anything!!”
Read the latest updates about Hunter by subscribing to the Thompson’s Caring Bridge page.
More in Insights & Information
December 12, 2018RESCHEDULED-"Peace Has Come" Christmas Choir Concert
December 10, 2018The Christmas project that saved a marriage
December 8, 2018Crosses for Christmas