Light One Candle

Skip Navigation Links
Light One Candle
LOC Archive
For Editors

 

Tony Rossi

Radio Host/Producer

Jeannie Gaffigan’s Renewed Faith in Aftermath of Brain Surgery

A trip to the pediatrician with her five kids led Jeannie Gaffigan to discover she had an apple-sized tumor wrapped around her brain stem. Instead of completely falling apart, she immediately turned to God, saying, “You’re going to have to guide me through this because I have no idea what I’m doing...and I still have a lot of work to do for You.” From that point on, Jeannie moved forward with faith and trust. And it’s gotten her to a hopeful place.

Jeannie is a Christopher Award-winning writer/producer, wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan, and mother to their five children. As she told me during a recent “Christopher Closeup” interview, she had been enduring “massive headaches and dizzy spells,” balance issues, and even hearing loss during the early months of 2017. She wrote the symptoms off as possibly being seasonal allergies. When the pediatrician learned that Jeannie couldn’t hear in one ear, she examined her, but couldn’t find anything obvious, so she sent her to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist, who also found nothing wrong. That led to an MRI, which revealed the massive tumor.

On the positive side, the tumor was benign. But it needed to come out, otherwise she would be left paralyzed. It was April 2017 - Holy Week, to be exact - so Jeannie called her cousin on Long Island “who’s an absolute prayer warrior” to start a prayer chain. Meanwhile, the neurosurgeons Jeannie contacted couldn’t give her an appointment until May. She called her best friend from childhood, now a neurologist, for advice. After overnighting copies of her brain scans to him, he called and said, “You need to get to the operating room as soon as you can. Find the top neurosurgery department in Manhattan and go to the ER at that hospital.”

Jeannie and Jim headed to Mount Sinai Hospital, but called the ENT to let him know their plan. He instead got them a quick appointment with prominent neurosurgeon Dr. Joshua Bederson. Jeannie said, “On Good Friday, I went through a series of MRIs where they mapped out my entire brain and did a virtual surgery on how to deal with the tumor and the nerves surrounding it. Then they said, ‘You have Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday with your family. On Monday, you’re going to surgery.”

The nine-hour operation was successful, but recovery came with its own difficulties.  Jeannie’s throat was left paralyzed temporarily, and she needed an oxygen tank to breathe and a feeding tube in her stomach. She also developed life-threatening pneumonia due to another complication. 

Thankfully, Jeannie has come a long way since then. She said, “The healing that I’ve experienced has been nothing short of a miracle. I’ve had some of the most powerful spiritual people in the world praying for me. And I’ve even had people who I thought to be atheists praying for me. I’ve seen the good side of humanity in a time where I feel that our country is sort of torn apart. I’ve seen people from every belief system and every political leaning come out and be good human beings, and I have a renewed sense of the power of intercessory prayer, and a renewed sense of my purpose on earth and for my children. I had a lot of spiritual encounters with God during those really dark days in the hospital. There’s no doubt in my mind that the hand of God was with me every step of the way.” 

 

For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, THE GOD OF SECOND CHANCES, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org