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Hannah’s and Connor’s Stories

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
July 28, 2021 2:00 am

Hannah’s and Connor’s Stories

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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July 28, 2021 2:00 am

Hear the stories of two children, Hannah Sullivan and Connor Deal, who both lost their lives to illness. Their parents, Brad and Jill Sullivan and Ron and Nan Deal, share the stories of their precious children and the hope they have in the Lord of seeing them again.

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The Christian Car Guy
Robby Dilmore
Truth Talk
Stu Epperson

I know parents have a lot of fears now and he had fears yes what would you say is the number one greatest fear. Probably every parent Losing a child.

I would say that the number one fear most. This welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most in Wilson and Andre Wilson and you can find or on her family life app. This is family life today.

What would you say is the number one greatest fear probably repair. Losing a child that I was thinking you'd say that, and the you know I watch my mom goes through my dad when my little brother died. I watched my parents go through that when we lost my sister. She is a little bit older but it was shattering. Not only them but our entire family and her kids that I can remember the 06 years old eight years old.


Watch and my mom will feel in my own grief versus six-year-old life, which is happened I didn't her standard, but watching mom and dad and they were divorced but both grieving. It was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced. Not just me but watching my mom and dad and so today we get to couple sitting in the studio who will both lost the child same here for right we get the deals run and then deal with the some Brad and Jill Sullivan with this welcome to family like a guy here. Thanks for having a yes or a dive in the sum a little different than we do every other day here and hear your stories and help families, you know, go through RBL. The process and even walk-through with other people.

This kind of tragedy, you know, and many people know Ron and Nan a little bit too. But Ron is the director of our blended family ministry here at family life. You guys and married, I'm guessing 35 years. That's right think I just took a guess that was perfect.

This look like you have 35 year like 20 you look like you've got this marriage thing down like perfect program for another Excel and you really are friends with the site is fun to have you introduce bread because we know them but we just met them and you know can give us a little bit of their story just so Brad and Jill have come into our life as a result of the loss of our son. I tried to describe them once to somebody and I said you know, these are people salt of the earth big hearts who have gone through their own significant loss and they are just now just pouring into the lives of lots of other people who have gone through a similar loss and it's just a story of servants ministering to people as fast as they can have a degree in administered tests. They have and we are now helping in a role like support group tell us about their ministry. What is there ministry. It's a wonderful ministry link. It tells sure are our ministries called while were waiting and that name comes from the idea that we are all waiting for something that we can't see yet while were waiting is based on Scripture. Romans 825 that says but if we hope for what we do not see we eagerly wait for it with perseverance and we're waiting to see her children again deals are waiting to see Connor were waiting to see Hannah and so this ministry is all about. What are we going to do with our lives. While were waiting for that day that were reunited with our children will take us back tell us the story of Hannah and just walk us through the journey because that was a few years back, obviously, but we don't know the story so how did this all happen well because it was 12 years ago and Joan board we been married 34 years so you we better start a family with with Hannah. She's her youngest and their daughter Bethany and I was an educator and coach teachers and got administration and was a principal and about Hannibal cup on February 14 of her sophomore year in high school and that she had headache and we sick to her stomach would put her back to bed and she was up the next day. Same problem. Long story short, we were in the pediatrician and then the ophthalmologist to give to Colorado's they thought was a problem with Verizon. They did their moron. They found a brain tumor and the tumor was run the sun overhead and the you love our stories talk about how she handled this news from the beginning I was her principal so she was mom's favorite student. How old was your other daughter. At that time she was 13 and so I was both my girls principal of my daughter was just to talk little bit about her. She was straight a student. Her goal was to be valedictorian and she was on her way. She was number one in the class. It was never my goal is to go so great. Students all proud of her as a principal and as an educator but as a father sheep. She might as proud as did Bethany are girls and your family was, we had the white picket fence. The good situation you know the your we were in church and serving in church. Bethany and Hannah were serving in church or be a part of church and going on youth mission trips noticed involved in the moment. February we were in the Children's Hospital and waiting on surgery so I will love to tell the story because it's really has helped me a lot.

Hold on for second and Jill take us back to the time that you heard this diagnosis, that there is brain tumor.

What ever he asked that I was with her. We had gone in for the MRI and you know when you go for an MRI. You don't expect to get results that day Ray and they kept, trying to stall us to keep us from leaving after the MRI was over, they actually offered us free lunch tickets to go have lunch in the hospital cafeteria that damn where you will yeah your mom radar starts to go off and you know there's something going on, but to be honest, I had never had an MRI before. I never had a child that had an MRI before I didn't know what the typical routine was.

I thought it was odd that they wanted us to stay and have lunch but we quickly went and ate lunch came back to the MRI suite because they said come back by here after you have lunch and when we walked in. The technician had kind of pushed the chairs together and she sat us down and she said you are ophthalmologist called and he's on his way over. He wants to talk to you. It was kind of a neat story are ophthalmologist that we were referred to as actually somebody we had gone to college with. We went to Washita Baptist University and we knew Tommy Mosley he was a friend of ours.

Last we knew he was going to be a worship pastor, but somehow he had gone back to school and become an ophthalmologist and that was the guy who came in and met us that day locked into that MRI suite and sat us down and he said Hannah has a brain tumor actually walked us into the little sweet to the little area where the technician was and showed us right there on that film. It was stunning that we were not expecting that at all. And of course you know Hannah and I both started crying Hannah's 16 years old at this time.

She understood everything is going on. Yes, yes, she wasn't known outside is like she's getting your news just as I did, and Tommy was wonderful. He sat down with us and he prayed with us, walked us out a back way from the MRI suite so we didn't have to walk out in front of everybody even offered to drive me home. I said no you know I can drive. We got in the car and you know Hannah was 16, her biggest concern at this point was you know what's gonna happen. Are they going to have to shave my head because Tommy told us you know she is gonna have to have surgery. They will have to get this out.

He said you can either go to Children's Hospital tonight or in the morning. Well, so they're moving quickly and he said she's not in any acute distress.

If you want to wait until morning.

We can do that but we need to get her there.

So I said yes, let's wait till morning. So we started to drive home and Nina she's asking me questions that I can answer. I call him can I say I need you to come home now and that's all I could say and I just hung up the phone and he met us in the driveway watching them drive up the driveway and I can see your face that something going on in my daughter gets out. Hannah gets out and she looks at me and she sits down got a brain tumor and that news. This took the wind out of my lungs and other non-coincidences that our neighbor was a retired pastor that had really loved her family and what their kids might call belligerently come over and we prayed together. He gave us a reverse 917 the Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him and we hung over that verse and we then prayed together as a family is God we trust you with this news we give it to you and we like to know the Philippians 47 piece we started filling that piece immediately. We were devastated by the news that were processing that we started film of peace and that we were in Children's Hospital the next day and talk to the surgeon them about before surgery out. I like to share the story about Hannah before were trying to go to sleep.

She said I gotta tell you something. She went on to tell me about an experience in her youth group a few months prior it with this awful mail weekend that they have a leader there that shared with them how God allow storms in your loft to bring you closer to heal and also allow others to see him through your storm and she went on to say that you know are waters of been call we had had any storms but I want you mom to know that I pray first storm that God might use me and it was a comfort to us because as we were processing that to know their God is sovereign and he's in control and he was preparing her in a way Jill sure about the news we God after surgery and in the news they shared with us so she went right in the surgeon next morning the next day after that she went into surgery and the surgery was very successful and you know it's it's a very terrifying thing to send your child in for brain surgery because you don't know what the result might be that she did very well. They were able to go in there and get the tumor they got all of it without causing any major damage or anything. The surgeon came out, talked with us and he said everything was great. Best possible outcome. He says, but we are gonna send this off for a biopsy, depending on the results of the biopsy that will determine our next step.

So she recovered very well from her surgery. We went home. Actually, just a few days later but we knew we had the biopsy hanging over our heads went back to get her stitches removed and to find out the results of the biopsy and when we walked into the room. There was our surgeon and another doctor and then there were these other people in the room and we really didn't know what they were, therefore, until later, we realize they were counselors because they didn't know how we were going to react to the news. We are about to hear our Sgt. County gave us the surgery follow-up information and then he introduces to the other doctor who was an oncologist and he said the biopsy results have come back and Hannah has a grade 4 glioblastoma tumor, you know, I'm the kind of person am immediately thinking okay how do you spell that because as soon as we walk out of here, I'm going to look this up to research this thing and it was almost as if he could read my mind, because he said don't go home in Google glioblastoma.

He said he will not like what you read. It's a terminal diagnosis but it typically occurs in older adults. Your daughter is 16. She's healthy otherwise where to do radiation were to do chemotherapy and working to try to beat this thing and we said okay you know where were ready, let's do that and them you Hannah took that news and just handled it with grace without fear. She accepted it as her storm so she started on this was six weeks of radiation she would go to school every day because school was very important to her and we were really feeling very hopeful. We thought this is really good idea know she's responding well to the treatment she would given get an MRI every two months and it was always all clear, so we felt like for you to be okay working taken this we are doing great. But in the fall semester of her junior year of high school that following September she started having some of the same symptoms that she had had early on and some balance issues and so I called up the children's and I said you know there's something going on it, it just been six weeks since her last MRI and it was perfectly clear, but they said will go ahead and bring her animal scanner and will see broader in they did MRI usually they just scanned her brain. This time they extended it and scanned her whole spine and you know I think we knew at that point that something was going on. They called us the next morning with the results and the cancer had returned and it was on her brain stem and she had tumors up and down her spine. So many that they call them snowdrift tumors and they said you will need to come in and we need to talk about our new plan. From this point and so the four of us, when in the next day and they explained to us that she had less than a 5% chance of survival at this point Hannah was then on all of these discussions.

Bethany was there for that particular discussion, and they sorta try another kind of radiation a full body radiation a full upper body radiation and a new kind of chemo and IV chemo. We moved forward with that and she really never recovered from that point on it was a difficult journey from that time the cancer was attacking her brain and so he or she lost her cognitive skills and in her just her life skills and those kinds of things very hard to see your child decline in that way, but she kept her faith until the very end and you know we are very proud of her. We say that she taught us how to live well and she taught us how to die well.

We are grateful that we had the opportunity to be her parents.

She went to heaven on February 26, 2009. It was exactly one year from her surgery date.

We look back at the year and the way she handled that year. She was the cop that would worry about every little thing she accepted that storm and without fear.

Like Jill said, but then when we would get a bad report from a scam and she would see that we were emotional and it was difficult she would look at us as you said, mom and dad, I'm okay and she was okay because her Lord and Savior was at her and was walking with her and something that I'm proud of is of an educator and we talked her students about how important education is and what doors that could open and what I'm grateful for is that my daughter had a personal relationship with Jesus and that knowledge gave her hope for eternity. She just stood again. She taught us a lawful walk and were blessed and you and we don't waste that storm we will use it for good knowledge gives you as well. I'm in as parents, and I know Ron and then you went through similar same year and know that our listeners of her your story little bit but can you give us a little bit of a journey that you went through that white picket fence.

I would say it was a Norman Rockwell photo. We had a golden retriever to go with it thevery beautiful boys at 1012 and 14. Here I was married to minister. We were going to church three times a week. Boys are going to can't Lenny's talk about Connor in ways they would meet said in the hallway at night and kiss each other good night Letty letting him Sunday nights we are doing devotionals. I remember that Sunday nights, and Connor get his keyboard out and Braden play the guitar and they bring their little vitals out to the living room and we were just it was a sweet season and we had that beautiful retriever to go with it. Where did Connor fit in with the three he was our middle son at that time. He loved everything Star Wars everything Lego Star Wars. He was gonna be the next George Lucas key and would be out on that trampoline with that stick step is as light sabers like him. One day Steve and I was like this really looks weird somebody to say something and then I went out this icon, and he went with one hand up what you doing. He said I am choreographing this fight scene for my storyboarding.

In this movie that I'm going to make just like okay he was all right. Brain all artistic and the other boys played sports when we would offer sports 10 weeks I have enjoyed my sake go.

Why is just our artist, our creative kid and time. I think back now. I wish the way when I when I would get to have one night finished, read what one more chapter because he was reading chapter books test at night to mama just want to read one more to sit out educator.

He loved to read get lost in the story with me.

What I would give it one more chapter that she was usually given his life to the Lord early in his favorite verse was highlighted in his Bible, Proverbs 3, five and six. He loved his family.

He loved his friends. He loved everything creative he was. My buddy, she would sit on my right side at church and not share me with his other brothers and he could sing and I like to take the lead. He had a sweet tender voice and I sing out telling that is one thing that I miss so much as harmony in my life that he would be 24 right now tall beautiful young man was so struck. As Brad started talking about Hannah's first symptom was a headache that was Connor's.

He had a headache and we sent them to bed early and gave him a couple of ibuprofen just assumed it would all be okay. He was 12 her story after he went to the hospital. He was unaware anything that was going on with him.

You know it was a quick 10 days for us and really he had no idea. Although I stated his side and walking to every procedure and whispered in his ear where here and talk to every procedure. He was really unaware of what was going on with himself.

Kind of a different turn there. Connor had immersive staff infection. We don't know where he got it or how he got it.

Somehow it just attacked his body so the headache was the first symptom, but within a couple of days yet hundred and 5 temperature and the beginnings of pneumonia. That's what prompted us to finally getting into a hospital where they started running tests and it still another couple of days before they even knew what was going on but very quickly.

They determined they needed to sedate him, which is why Nan was pointing out he didn't know what was going on was unconscious know because we were confident that he would be okay. I could not go there in my mind every time it's it's a little pneumonia and I think like baby needs not know woman and were not in a foreign country.

So here we we had elders come laying hands on him night we we trusted those Scriptures that said you know you pray for the sick, and though be healed.

We have even gone to the point of taking pictures and making notes of people that had come to visit him every day. We knew he was going to have a story and we wanted him to know about old people in the prayers and because he was unconscious. He didn't know, and so we were dictating that so that he would be able to have a testimony when it was all like we were never scared we were in Amarillo at the time and we were praying for a bed to open up Dallas Children's Hospital and it opened up and up. Ron and the boys got in the car and drove from Amarillo to Dallas. I got on plaintiffs Connor and even on the plane and he strapped his head down and it took probably four hours to get them from that bad in the hospital in the hospital in Amarillo to the gurney journey to the ambulance. Even when we got on that plane and the pilot said how high can we go.

Don't over 11,000 feet. This will guy can't take it and they were talking about how delicate he was, how she may not make it and I'm sitting there going make it and really honestly still my my mind could not go there just wouldn't allow me to got there. He did survive the flight did those children's and it was just two days later, on the first day we had indications he was actually improving other factors kicked in, and it all took a turn for the worst and they had put him on ECMO lung bypass machines that he is on side mattresses and garden hose in his neck and taken blood out donating and putting it back in. It was just a terrible site. To be honest, they came to us and circumstances I won't go into but we ended up knowing the end was near. And we end up having two hours with him in his room is still unconscious. We never talk to them again once they put them under and we had the last two hours with him when his last heartbeat. My parents were there. The boys were there. Ron sister was there good friends were there. We sang home. How much time had passed from the day he woke up with headache 10 days and I just did the math. Connor died nine days beforehand, that we are in two different parts of the universe as far as we're concerned, and the death of our children.

This brought us together and run. You really instigated this time together in studio for a couple days. What prompted you to want us all to be together to talk about this.

As a parent. The journey after a child dies is a marathon is Nan says it is not a Sprint it's nowhere near a Sprint is a long, long road and parents. I need support. I need a place to grieve. We have is Nan describes a very sacred garden that we honor and protect and we have learned to put hedges and fences around not let the wrong people live in because they will step all over the flowers and yet there are other people you must let in so that you can grieve in community with others who know what you're going through and we have been the beneficiaries of the ministry that Jill and Brad have created and while were waiting and we know how it serves us.

We now have the opportunity to service group leaders and were seeing how it benefits other people. We want people to know about this and to be perfectly honest communities church community. Don't know what to do with us. We know what to do with each other that churches don't know what to do.

People just they run and hide and I've had someone say you are the face of my worst nightmare. It is, I'm really isolating hard place to be especially wing if you want to go back to church and you want to turn step out into community. I mean, really, honestly, other grieving parents are really the safest people and it is because we can laugh we can cry and we all now were not over it were just moving through. We all know what that reunion is going to look like, and so these are the safest people after you've been through something like this and it's not people that have lost because I had my boss to sister as well.

I've lost my dad. It's just that for parents and in this is the type of community you mean because they're safe. We know each other, even when it's a different age or a different way. The day you lose your child is the worst day and we think we need to continue the discussion because you just opened up the wound since and it's hard and it's easy for the church and I've done this May we all have you taken a passage like Conner's favorite passage trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. It's real easy to think that means no hard times and yet you know that passes as well as anybody now because it was your son's passage that paths straight. That leaning in that trusting is a long journey and so for the listener.

The parentless and right now it maybe is in the journey you are and has gone where you've gone like we've gone even with ancestor, we would offer the journey to them. Thank you for listening to dress okay now where we go with this is the day or month or year. It's going to be a journey if you try to do that alone. He can't so we need to talk further. Thanks for opening up your lives really is to help others. A tender place to go and let of people in and look for this. Having you lead us need to go thank you, thank you for listening to our stories about our kids. We really appreciate it. There's nothing that every parent loves more than getting to talk about their child say their name if sales is dealt Hon. I feel so honored that you would share your stories thanks. Sorrow and loss and grief are a part of life on earth you as the Bible reminds us as Christians, we do not grieve as those who have no hope.

We still grieve our hearts are comforted by the fact that we have a hope in Christ, Ron, and then deal Brad and Joel Sullivan have shared with us today their experiences. Parents who have walked through the unbearable loss of a child. I'm thinking back to an interview that David and Wilson did a month ago with Levi and Jenny Lesko about the loss of a child. In fact they've written about in a book called through the eyes of the law him facing impossible pain finding incredible power we have that book available in our family life resource Center. You can go to family life to order a copy or you can call one 800 FL today again the website is family life to for Levi Lesko's book through the eyes of a lion or called to order at 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life and in the word today.

By the way, if you'd like more information about the retreats that the Sullivan's host for grieving parents. You can go to our website family like

We got a link to the Sullivan's website and all of the information is available for you there. Though I know some of you have been thinking since you heard us talking about this week about the possibility of a 40 day media fast in your thinking. I don't know if I can do that. I don't know if I want to do that. Although I think that's a good idea for me. Well, if you are still on the fence. Would love to send you a copy of Wendy speaks book the 40 day social media fast you can hear her story and she will walk you through the process were making the book available this week to anyone who can help support the ongoing ministry of family life to the every time you donate, here's what you're actually giving to your giving to change lives change marriages, families and legacies that are being strengthened and established as people listen to this daily program this podcast. They're coming to our website. Family life They're using our resources attending our events and you make that happen when you support family life to the make a donation today online family life or call to donate at one 803 586-329-1800 FL today when you do ask for your copy of Wendy speaks book the 40 day social media fast will send it to you with our thanks for your partnership with us in strengthening and establishing marriages and families all around the world and we hope you can be with us again tomorrow when we hear more from Brad and Joel Sullivan about how God prompted them to comfort other grieving parents with the comfort they have received from him will sure about the retreats that they're doing for couples tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that on behalf of her hosts David and Wilson on Bob Lapine join us again tomorrow for another edition of family life today, production of family life and ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most

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