Friday, June 6, 2014


I have very recently discovered a diary from mid-2002 that I had journalled in before we decided on whether or not I was going to have radiotherapy later that year. In this journal I talked about an appointment in March of that year where we had to weigh up the pros and cons of my having the treatment. I will directly quote the journal from here.

“We’ve just arrived home after my appointment with Dr Law regarding  the question of whether to have radiotherapy or not. Also having been given the added extra of the long-term outlook with my tumour and that it will undoubtedly shorten my life-span.

This one hour’s appt has made this a huge day with overwhelming issues discussed and covered. There is the prospect of radiotherapy, but there is also the issue of when is the right time to have it – now, as a ‘pro-active’ way of stopping the tumor growing further, or once I am getting more symptoms from the tumor which would indicate further growth or change. What I am not so keen on though, is the prospect of these symptoms. Mr Law stated that once these symptoms had occurred they would be irreversible – I am not at all convinced at this stage that I want to wait until these symptoms occur.

Dr Law has also stated today that the tumour has changed, it has changed in form. Last week Dr Hepner (Mr Law’s registrar) stated that the tumor had ‘progressing’ nodules in it. This meant that the cancer cells were increasing in those areas, but not that they had spread outside the tumor. The tumor has not in any way spread, but it has increased in size, and any expansion in this area of the brain is of some concern.

Amongst all the ‘to deal with now’ things, the one thing that has thrown me the most was being reminded of my mortality. Dr Law stated that having the tumor will undoubtedly shorten my life-span. This is not something that I have ever accepted, nor something that I coped well with hearing really (not that that I ever show that in an appointment. One has to remain emotionally calm to take in all that is being loaded on.

But after an appointment like this there are just so so many things to think about. So many that one overloaded brain can’t possibly attempt to do so and cope. And yet, even when I’m not consciously aware that I’m thinking about it, I find myself trying to prepare myself for the ‘worst case scenarios’. I don’t know why my mind is automatically doing this again. After 2000, when nearly all the worst case scenarios did happen, I decided that I would never try and foresee what was going to happen as God would be with me at that time and give me the strength to go on. It’s the whole point of Matthew 6v. 34 (“therefore do not worry about your tomorrow as tomorrow will bring its own worries”). We should not be worrying about tomorrow (and the anxieties it may hold) as God promises to be there in that tomorrow.

You know, I think that the whole ‘worst case scenario’ thing is most certainly a defense mechanism. In mentally preparing oneself for the event you are somehow left with this false sense of security that if it was then to occur, you would be able to stay calm about it regardless.

Although I know that none of us are immortal; although I know that I am so blessed to have had the eight years that I have had (since I was diagnosed), I still find a small part of me crying out ‘please God, please let me have more’.

More time,
More living,
More love,
More chances for giving
More chances to communicate God’s peace to others through this foggy complexity.

My greatest desire of all is to fulfill God’s purpose for my life. It is something I have little control over, and something that I have to trust Him completely with. For He is the only one in all of this that does know all the answers, reasons and outcomes.

He is the only one that does know when the right time for me to have radiotherapy is. The only one that knows what the outcome of that will be. God is the only one that will be there with me through every moment of my today and my tomorrows. For aside from this entire tumor / radiotherapy thing, there is also the searing reality of this chronic ongoing pain, though I do feel that I am starting to manage that much better now days.

The reality is, that it is only through that pain that I have come to know the moment by moment comfort, assurance, peace and reality that God has on offer.”


What I found quite amazing in rediscovering and reading this journal entry is that we followed what we felt God was guiding us to do –  for me to go ahead and have radiotherapy. Now, as a result of doing so, I no longer have a brain tumour. Even though Mr Law had said that my tumour would undoubtedly shorten my life-span, this is actually no longer the case.

It is extraordinary to me to see how God was faithful right from giving us as a sense of which direction to go in with the radiotherapy to, little by little, shrinking my brain tumour until our finding out in March 2013 that it no longer exists.

Something we have learnt over the years is to go where peace goes. God didn’t direct us about whether or not to have radiotherapy through words written in the clouds, nor a distinct vision, but rather that we began to feel complete peace and confidence that this was the right way to go.

It is hard to put in words how incredibly privileged, blessed and fortunate I feel that this was the case. I feel confidence in knowing that wherever God leads me is the right direction to go in. To know that even though I can’t see into my future that I can trust in the God who has known it since before I was born.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Prior to my having radiotherapy in 2002 I found some things quite overwhelming. However, in God I found rest. I wrote this poem 2 months before having radiotherapy.


To laugh, to love, to know, to understand
To have and be sheltered, safe in His hands
To find it all here in this small place
In times of desperation, to see His face
I Am is Him alone
His nature at best
I offer the overwhelming
He gives me rest
Gabrielle B

At the time that I wrote this blog, in September 2002, I signed off everything I wrote and painted with ‘E.G.’. This was an abbreviation for Eternal Gratitude which was what I felt and hoped I would always feel.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Prior to my having radiotherapy in December 2002 I was experiencing extreme pain, fatigue and nausea. After being awake from 4.30am with a blinding headache I wrote the following about God’s ‘light’ that was keeping me going.

Life is good

Life is good
And life is going to continue to bring goodness
There is beauty now
And I know there is more beauty to come

Things can be, and are, painful
Excruciatingly painful
But all things have beauty

As with the stars on a cloudy night
You continue to shine
Behind the thick clouds
Of illness and pain
Your light will still keep me strong
And it is that strength that this light gives me
That will shine out and show God’s hand in all of this.

There is beauty in the dark hours
For it is at those times
That I can dream about
And anticipate the sun
That will shine over my life

It is amazing for me to read this piece of writing eleven years on from having had radiotherapy, no longer having a brain tumour. Knowing that what I had to go through with the radiotherapy was all worth it.

I still have to endure living with continual pain and intense headaches. However, what amazes me is that it is this same light that leads me on, this same light that brings beauty into my dark times, and this same light that continues to give me strength every day.

It is also so incredible for me to be able to read this now, at a time in my life when I am seeing many of my dreams come true.

I believe that having had great expectations about what God has had in store for me, based on scripture, has had a huge impact on my life over  these past 14 years. This belief kept alive in me great hope for my future during times when I couldn’t even think beyond the next hour. Somehow maintaining this hope that good things were to come during the incredibly difficult years between 2000 and 2010 has led to my now seeing some of those dreams come true.

God is good, life is good, and God has great plans for us all when we put our trust in Him.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I have just come across something I wrote on September the 17th 2002 (while preparing for radiotherapy):

"Dreaming and hope are today’s expectation of what will be now, tomorrow.

Dreams give the inspiration to set goals,
For goals are merely dreams with work-boots on.

Hope gives the motivation and dedication to fulfill today's part of your dreams."

Now, 11 years on, I am so glad I spent time dreaming as well as being anxious when my life was leading up to radiotherapy.

Monday, November 19, 2012


In the months before I had radiotherapy in 2002 I was becoming too weak to lift my Bible. However, I wanted be able to have the words that encouraged me and gave me strength easily accessible. I decided to compile all the verses I loved into one book and put a small piece of my artwork beside each verse. This was to remind me that I could produce something beautiful when I was well.

This book became my lifeline. I had it beside my bed where I spent many an hour, I found it so helpful as I didn’t have the concentration to be reading large excerpts of text. I have also found it fantastic over the years in that I can take just one sentence from it and find something that feeds my spirit.

In the years between Radiotherapy in 2002 and my surgery in 2004 I compiled another group of verses that I named “Verses for Peace, Patience and Perseverance”. These verses gave me the strength to keep going, keep persevering and keep pushing forwards.
In 2005 I was falling over a lot, my vision became blurred. It was found early in 2006 that there were two blood clots pressing against my brain stem. However, I had to wait for several months for my surgery. With this surgery there was a chance that I was going to be left with a facial palsy, be unable to see clearly, unable to walk unaided, along with other potential after-effects. I began to experience anxiety like I had never known before. It was then that I added a new chapter to my book. I put verses together to turn to and repeat to myself over and over whenever those anxious thoughts came. They truly ‘fed’ me during that time and continue to do so when I am feeling anxious. They are entitled ‘Verses to Fight Anxiety and Fear’.

After my surgery in ’06 I was too weak to be able to sit at a desk and paint any more. And when my pain condition progressed to my arms and hands in ’08, painting (and handwriting) went out the window. This meant the last two ‘chapters’ of the book didn’t have any artwork with them for many years.

I realised late in 2010 that I hadn’t used my art equipment in many years. This was because of blurred vision and then post-surgery weakness in 2006. When chronic hand pain entered the scene in 2008 painting went right out the window. Our church was running an exhibition to try and fundraise and so I decided to donate all my canvases and art equipment to a church art group to use in the exhibition. I was extremely grateful when the art group then gave me photos of their paintings to complete my book.

I have been strong enough to lift my Bible for many years now, but I still often turn to my copy of “Verses of Comfort, Inspiration and Hope”. Ten years after my compiling this book of verses I still find they are relevant and extremely encouraging. They give me the strength and hope to keep me going.

Even though the original book was only 5 pages long, it has been added to over the years it is now 40 A4 size pages long.

Monday, April 30, 2012


In previous blogs about my journey leading up to and through radiotherapy I have talked about how I was experiencing extreme weakness. However, when I look back I can see that God was truly carrying me and strengthening me through that time.

Some time after having radiotherapy I did a piece of artwork that became very symbolic to me of how God changed me through my radiotherapy treatment period.

The artwork originated as a pastel work of a flower that I scanned into my computer and then played around with. While doing this, one image in particular really caught my eye. This was it:

To me this picture represented a woman with her head bowed down in submission and surrender. She has one arm stretching out, wanting to move forward; the other arm reaching up to heaven giving thanks to God for His holding her future. To me this portrayed a woman of strength. Even though this isn’t how the world perceives strength, it was very much how my strength was growing.

I had my eye on the future and was reaching out towards it, wanting to move into wellness again. But at the same time didn’t have the strength in myself to do so. It was only in submitting and surrendering to God and allowing His joy to fill me (what the yellow in the picture represents) that I found the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

10 years on from my having radiotherapy and doing this piece of art, I feel that this picture, done all those years ago, still represents me. I continually want to move forward in my life and to move on from pain and weakness and into a place of joy, strength and freedom. However, in order to do so I continually have to surrender to God and rely on Him for strength. All the while I am being filled with joy - which is what the yellow in this picture represents.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


You may or may not be aware that I have another blog running in conjunction to this one. 

It is called kiwibraintumoursurvivor-TODAY and is my present day blog (as opposed to this blog which is being written in retrospect) sharing insights and experiences. 

It can be accessed it through this link: