Lisa Jansen
Communications Director
January 20, 2021

It started out like any other day in the cold month of November. At the time, I was a 23-year-old college student living at home with my parents. I had just gotten over what I thought was a virus and headed to bed early because I was returning to work the next morning.

I had no idea that my life was about to be changed forever.

After just an hour of sleep, I woke up with the worst headache I’ve ever experienced. My mind was foggy, and I remember noticing the darkness outside.

Something was definitely wrong. 

My head had so much pressure in it that I thought it would explode. I went to my parents and told them I had to go to the hospital immediately. They rushed me to the hospital and, without going into all the details, I was sent for an MRI and the doctors discovered a pituitary tumor the size of a golf ball. Immediate surgery was the only solution.

I was raised in the church and have always been strong in my faith. I kept this verse close to my heart: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” Isaiah 41:10.

My neurosurgeon was able to remove the tumor, along with my pituitary gland. I was in for a long road of recovery. If you know me personally, you know my story turned out OK. I went through surgery, recovered, and was able to go on with life as a normal human — whatever that is (ha).


While God blessed me with healing from my tumor, He also used this experience to bring my family closer together.

Here’s where the real story begins: I grew up in a middle class family in Detroit, MI. My father, Dan, was a police officer for the Detroit Police Department. My mother, Joyce, was a stay-at-home-mom who then worked as a claims specialist at AAA Michigan. I also have an older brother, Brian. 

I was always close with my mom (and still am to this day). She’s my best friend and taught me to be strong in my faith in Jesus. But, there was always distance in my relationship with my father.

When I was a child, I was my father’s “Little Mouse.” That was his nickname for me. As the years passed and I grew, distance grew in our relationship. In my heart, I knew my father loved me. But what I knew, I didn’t feel. He didn’t verbalize his feelings for me and we didn’t spend a lot of time together when I was a teenager.

After I was diagnosed with the pituitary tumor, something changed in my father. I could see it in small hints while I was in the hospital. He would sit and talk with me, and I could tell something was stirring inside of him. But the day that truly changed our relationship occurred when I was home recovering from my surgery.


I remember this day clearly. My Dad had just come home from work. I was watching some silly romantic comedy on TV. I got up to say hello to him and we talked for a while at the kitchen table. When I stood up to go lay back down and rest, he hugged me and said, “I love you.

This is the moment everything changed. Those words hadn’t come out of his mouth in a very long time.

This unexpected gift I received from my father is like God’s love for us. God’s love is unexpected, unconditional and never-ending. It’s something that we don’t deserve or expect to receive, but we know that God’s love is there for us. (John 3:16)

God can use our unexpected circumstances, hardships and tragedies to work in our lives. Even when bad things happen, God can make good out of bad situations. In those dark times facing surgery and not knowing whether or not I would live, I relied on my faith in Jesus and my family that whatever God’s will was for my life, it would be for good. Romans 5:3-5

My relationship with my father is now stronger than ever — I’m still his little ‘Mouse.’ If you have a good, bad, or indifferent relationship with your father, know this: God, your heavenly father, loves you, values you, and will never leave your side.