Life Isn't Fair

This post originally appeared on Hearts of Zion. We post it here with the author's permission. 

Five years ago, a month before my 25th birthday, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor called an acoustic neuroma. It was slightly larger than the size of a golf ball (which is huge in terms of a brain tumor). Due to the tumor pressing against my brain stem the doctors had concerns that the tumor could prove to be fatal and would need to be removed as soon as possible. My oldest son was two years old, and my daughter was just 6 weeks old. Needless to say, it was a time of immense stress and fervent prayer.

So many questions flooded my mind. What will this mean for my family? For me? What will the rest of my life look like? What if the doctors concerns were realized and it was fatal? How could I leave my husband alone with our two babies? The questions of the unknown were overwhelming. Most days leading up to the surgery were spent trying to keep busy in effort to keep my mind off of the reality of what was happening but would usually land in a puddle of emotions.

The surgery was complex and would required two doctors and over eight hours to complete. Following the surgery I spent a week in the ICU and hospital. When it was time to go home, I would have been happy to never go to a hospital for the rest of my life. But after only two days of finally being home, I was rushed back to the hospital for another emergency surgery due to complications from the first one. I was so disheartened.

As my sweet husband was caring for me, our children were being passed around between family, friends, and sometimes strangers from our ward. I had not seen them for longer than an hour in the past 10 days and knew that another surgery would only prolong my time away from them. As part of my recovery I was ordered not to lift more than 5 pounds for eight weeks and to avoid bending over. So when I did see my children I was unable to pick them up and would have to rely on someone else to put them into my lap. I will forever be grateful for those who cared for my babies at a time when I could not.

The first surgery left me with pain and nausea that would last for months, and with a large portion of my head shaved to allow for the 7-inch long incision. It also left me completely deaf in one ear, and unable to walk on my own as my vestibular nerve had been severed. The hardest part was that it kept me from being the wife and mother I wanted to be.

 As I sat alone in the hospital waiting for my second surgery, I had reached the threshold of what I could possibly bear. I wept. I cried more than I think I have ever cried before and fell into a fog of despair. Up to this point I felt I had taken my trial with a faithful heart, but now I had finally broken. I started to feel sorry for myself and felt that my situation was entirely unfair. It is this moment that has taught me a number of sacred lessons about the Atonement that are ingrained in my heart, lessons that I'm sure will continue and deepen through out my life.

That feeling of life being unfair has been a lesson that I needed to understand. In Preach My Gospel we read that, “All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” The feelings of despair and unfairness that I had lying in that hospital bed have been swallowed up in the physical, mental, and emotional healing power of the Atonement of Christ. Both of my surgeries were successful. In the last five years, the promise I received through a priesthood blessing was fulfilled and it is almost as though the surgery and tumor had never happened.

Elder Dale G. Renlund said, 
“If life were truly fair, you and I would never be resurrected; you and I would never be able to stand clean before God. In this respect, I am grateful that life is not fair....through God’s compassion, kindness, and love, we will all receive more than we deserve, more than we can ever earn, and more than we can ever hope for. We are promised that 'God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Life is unfair. It is unfair that I have two doctor brothers that, through their encouragement to have some mild hearing loss checked, my life was quite possibly saved. It is unfair that I lived 20 minutes from the best acoustic neuroma surgeon in the country. It is unfair that those who have suffered from the same tumor are left with facial paralysis, loss of sight, or loss of functioning limbs, and I have no apparent side effects. It is unfair that our Savior, Jesus Christ, being perfect, suffered the ultimate sacrifice. It is unfair that because of his suffering I have been healed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is unfair that, imperfect as I am, I have the ability to stand clean before my Father in Heaven through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I cannot adequately express my gratitude that life is unfair. It is infinitely unfair in my favor because of a loving Father in Heaven.

I testify that as we come unto Christ and utilize the Atonement, we can find the promise found in the scriptures that "God shall wipe away all the tears from our eyes" and that all will be made right.

My name is Michelle, and I am a wife and a mother to 3 beautiful children ages 7, 5, and 2. My family and I moved to Texas from Salt Lake City about 14 months ago and we have loved living here. I spend my days at home, cleaning messes, driving kids to and from activities, homeschooling, and trying to soak up every ounce of time with my family.


  1. I wept. Because this was beautiful and about as unfair as the time in my life 21 years ago that I was faced with a similar situation ; having a monster tumor near my brain stem, living minutes away from a major university, also having a newborn child, and also being 25 years old. And yet again I see and feel the redeeming love of the savior in my life, as well as do my children and spouse.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. My husband was diagnosed of acoustic neuroma(at age 33) back in 2005 shortly after my second son was born prematurely. We did see an ENT only to be referred to a Neurosurgeon. May of 2005, the size of the tumor was a marble size. His surgery took place in June that year. It took 17 LONG hour surgery because the tumor was as big as a golf ball and it was already pushing the brain stem. It was very scary for me even if the doctors were good. I had questions of "What if something goes wrong?" I don't want to be a widow at age 33 and will be raising 2 kids on my own. I cried, pleaded and fasted even if I was breastfeeding(I know I should have not done it). I had faith that he will be fine. When I took him to the ER, the spirit told me, everything will be fine. I cried in front of him and he said: "Whatever happens, I will be taken care of". I tried to be brave to tell him the immediate answer to my pleadings but I was filled with emotions.

    After 17 long hour surgery, I finally saw him in the ICU. All went well but he could not remember me, only his Mom. There were problems such as cross eyes, his vocal cord were damaged and he returned to the hospital 4 days later because of severe headache. Only to find out, he was leaking spinal fluid. He stayed for another week and finally went home. He completely lost his hearing from his right ear and the 2% tumor that they left hasn't grow bigger. It was left because it was wrapped in his facial nerve. He is doing well now although we keep night lights on so he does not bump into the wall at night. His balance is still off(it's getting better), and he do have a loose screw. One of the screw popped and fixing it will keep him in the hospital for 2-3 days, so he decided not to get it fix. 3 months after his surgery, he went into severe depression. 2005 was the hardest year for us. We've been tried and tested yet we were able to pass those tests(hiccups of life).

    My premature son is now almost 12 years old and healthy. My husband is doing well. I found out later that the entire ward in Pittsburgh and his non LDS colleagues fasted and prayed for him, the doctors & nurses and our little family. We are so very grateful for the gospel and for the receiving end of service. It is truly different to be served. Our family is forever changed because of our experience.

    I hope Michelle is doing well. Feel free to give us a call. We'll be happy to meet and talk to you guys. Our children have adjusted and fully embrace the changes in the family specially when they want to whisper to their Dad on the right ear and they were completely ignored because he couldn't hear from his right ear anymore. Take care and talk to you guys soon.

  4. I too have suffered through illness and 11 years of intense pain. Thank you for this article. It truly helps.

  5. I have just been diagnosed with an acoustic Neuroma 2.5cm on Dec.12,2016. I have a meeting with a Neuro surgeon on salt lake on the 25 of Jan. I'm a nervous mess. Thank you for sharing. Its great to read about real case scenarios.