A letter from RJ Avery

Hi and welcome to my home page! My name is RJ Avery and I am 3 and 1/2 years old. I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I went to the hospital on June 15, 2000 to get pictures taken of my head. The rest, as they say, is history.

My neck had been sore for several months and I had a lot of painful "attacks" that I couldn't explain to my Mom and Dad. They took me to the chiropractor and family doctor several times and to the Emergency Room twice. The doctors ordered lots of tests and x-rays, but they couldn't figure out why I had this pain. They thought that maybe it was acid reflux, which is a digestive problem.

Finally, my family doctor decided that I should have pictures taken of my head. Dad said it was called a "Cat" scan. Just between you and me...I was worried that they thought I had cats in my head and neck! I guess that would have explained the painful attacks, wouldn't it?

On June 15, Dad took me to the hospital—Spectrum Health Downtown—to get this "Cat" scan done. After the pictures were taken, two doctors talked to Dad and they told him that I had a large tumor in my head. I didn't know what a tumor was so Dad told me that I had "sickies" in my head and that I would have to stay at the hospital for a few days.

I didn't like that idea one bit. Especially when the few days turned into a few weeks.

The next day, June 16, a neurosurgeon named Dr. Lawrence Foody took the "sickies" out of my head during a nine hour surgery. I ended up staying at the DeVos Children's Hospital, which is located at Spectrum Health Downtown, for two weeks, until June 29.

On July 5, Dad took me back to the hospital for more pictures of my head (he called it an MRI, whatever that means) and told me that I had to come back to the hospital the next day to get more of the "sickies" taken out. I ended up staying at the DeVos Children's Hospital again for 11 days, until July 17.

Then I was transferred to the Mary Free Bed Hospital and Rehabilitation Center. I told Mom and Dad that the hospital had a funny name, so they decided to call it the "play hospital." I played with physical and occupational therapists there until July 22, when my Dad brought me home. Incidentally, Mom and Dad told me that the beds aren't free there anymore, but they used to be 100 years ago!

I don't really understand what all that tumor business was about. All I know is that I spent half of June and half of July in the hospital. Mom and Dad thank Jesus every day that I'm back home now. I sure am glad that Jesus used the doctor to get all the sickies out of my head.

Dr. Foody told Mom and Dad that I had a tumor in my head that measured five to six centimeters. I guess that's pretty big for a guy my size. That's probably why Dr. Foody wanted to resection it (remove it) right away.

The tumor even had a name. Isn't that silly? They called it a Grade I Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma. Mom and Dad said that you can learn more about this type of tumor, and its causes and treatments by visiting the American Brain Tumor Association's web site.

Mom said that many people told her they were glad my tumor wasn't cancerous. Actually, as you'll see at the ABTA site, all tumors are cancerous. Mine rated the lowest on the cancer scale (Grade I), meaning that it is relatively "benign." Dr. Foody said that no brain tumor can really be considered "benign," though, even if it is low-grade like mine, for the simple fact that it takes up vital space and causes serious neurological problems. So, if you'd like to learn more about my tumor, the information is there at the ABTA site. Frankly, I'll wait a few years before I'm interested in reading about it!

I feel really good now after my surgeries and I'm getting stronger and stronger every day, though my legs and left arm are a bit shaky still. This is because my tumor was located in the posterior fossa part of the brain, which contains the cerebellum and controls balance and coordination functions. The shakiness is a symptom of Posterior Fossa Syndrome and could last for weeks, months, or years. We're praying that Jesus will heal this part of my body too so that I can be 100% back to normal, except for a big scar on my head, of course!

Dad told me that when I was in the hospital, he asked God why I had this tumor . I guess he had a lot of time to think about it and talk to God about it because he stayed with me almost every night. One night when Dad was reading the Bible, the Lord gave him the answer to his question. It was in a story recorded in John chapter 9 about a man that was born blind.

In the story, Jesus and His disciples saw this blind man one day and the disciples asked Jesus if the man was blind because of someone's sin. I guess it was common back then for people to assume that someone's "misfortune" was caused by a sin.

Jesus told the disciples that no one sinned to cause his blindness. There was no one to blame. The man was born blind "so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." I guess that means that he was born blind so that Jesus could personally touch him and heal him one day. If the man had not been blind, he might have never had an encounter with Jesus the Savior in that way.

Well, I don't understand all that has happened to me and my family since June 15. But I do know that if I hadn't had these "sickies" in my head, I might never have known Jesus the Savior as the Great Physician who healed me. Now I know that Jesus isn't just someone I pray to and read about at bedtime. Jesus is my God. He's my healer. He touched me and healed me and allowed this to happen so that His work could be displayed in my life...so that He can be glorified!

And Mom and Dad said that if I hadn't had the tumor, we might never have known the peace of God that "passeth all understanding"...peace that we cannot even begin to understand or comprehend. And we might never have had so many hundreds of people praying for us. And we might never have seen our church family rally around us and provide meals and help clean our house and help take care of my brother Grant.

Mom and Dad told me that it is easy to know about God by reading about Him at bedtime. But it is something different to actually know God and have a relationship with Him. Mom and Dad say that we can actually be grateful for the tumor, because it allowed us all to experience God more personally in our lives and it allowed us to know Jesus as my Great Physician and healer.

Dad says that the scar on the back of my head is a constant reminder to us that in June and July of 2000, Jesus reached out and touched us in a very special way. He revealed Himself to us, not only as our Savior and Lord, but also as my Great Physician. And we will never ever be the same.

When I was in the hospital, Mom and Dad told me that hundreds of people had been praying for me, asking Jesus to heal me and help me feel better. Mom and Dad were sure glad for that and they said that Jesus answered the prayers of all these people and that He kept me safe during the surgeries and helped the doctor to get my "sickies" out.

Dad thought it would be neat to set up this web page so that all of our prayer partners could see pictures of me while I was in the hospital and also pictures of my new brother Brandon. Oh, did I mention that Brandon was born on July 20, while I was still in the hospital? I thought it was pretty neat that Mommy was in the hospital at the same time that I was in the hospital! She was at St. Mary's Mercy Medical Center, which is attached to the Mary Free Bed Hospital where I was staying.

Anyway, Mom and Dad said that they don't know the names of all the people who were praying for me because so many of our friends and relatives asked their friends and relatives to pray for us, and they asked their friends to pray and so on. Mommy's daily e-mail messages must have been forwarded all over the world!

So, since you found this web page, I've got a pretty good idea that you must have been one of the hundreds of people all across the world who were praying for me. I thank you!

So, if you wouldn't mind, I'd be grateful if you'd take a minute to look at some of the pictures Mom and Dad and Grandma took of me while I was at the hospital. I think my little brother Grant is in some of the pictures too, and I know Dad included some pictures of my new baby brother Brandon.

As you can see from the pictures, I like Brandon alot. I think we'll get along just fine, so long as he remembers that I'm the Big Brother!

Love, RJ Avery (written with a lot of help from Dad)

P.S. Many people have told Mom and Dad that they've seen Jesus working in their own lives by sharing in this experience with us, either by praying for us or by providing a meal or some other help. We thank you for your continued prayers, and ask that you take the time to visit someone that is sick and pray for them to be healed. It would be a great encouragement to us and to many others!

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Current date and time is Monday, 17-Jun-2024 20:38:50 EDT and the Greenwich date and time is Tuesday, 18-Jun-2024 00:38:50 GMT. You are viewing this page from: and are visitor number 8640. This page was first published on 1 August 2000 and was last updated on Friday, 02-Sep-2022 16:53:39 EDT by Kreigh Tomaszewski.