Like most of us, David Wethington hated hospitals. But since Dave’s eight-hour surgery to remove a baseball-size tumor from his brain the week after Thanksgiving in 2012, making weekly hospital visits each Monday has become one of his favorite days of the week.
“How could a Type-A person find peace when diagnosed with a brain tumor?” asked Dave. “It’s peace that only comes from God.”
Stress was a given in Dave’s high performing lifestyle. Trained as a chemical engineer at a prestigious university, Dave was later recruited right out of college by a top-tier corporation. If anyone imagined he had his life under control, it was Dave.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
2 Corinthians 1:4
In 2006, he married Allison, the love of his life and the one person who explained the Gospel to Dave in a way he had never before understood. With career and marriage on track, after nearly seven years together the Wethingtons decided to start a family. Within two weeks of making that decision, Dave learned he had a brain tumor— right before Thanksgiving.
Putting their family plans on hold, the couple committed Dave’s medical condition to prayer and felt God’s peace carry them through the surgery. Recovery was difficult. Dave had to learn again to walk, talk and eat. Tests revealed Dave had low cognitive skills and the doctors advised that it would be at least a year before he could do even the most basic type of work. But God is good. Dave was able to return to his job as an engineer within five months after surgery.
Though benign, it was impossible to remove the entire tumor. Doctors advised Dave and Allison that radiation would be necessary to shrink and control the residual tumor. It would be at least six months before they could resume their family- building efforts. But in God’s providence, Allison became pregnant the day before Dave started radiation. What a difference a year makes: just before Thanksgiving, a year after brain surgery, the Wethingtons welcomed baby girl Avery into their home.
Instead of running away from hospitals, Dave embraced the people in them. Though very tough to land a volunteer position as a chaplain at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, the door opened for him to visit and pray for patients and their families. “I began to see people as God sees them,” said Dave. “I was there to serve patients and their families and comfort them as God had comforted me during my illness and recovery.”
Dave also enrolled full-time in the Houston extension of Dallas Theological Seminary after initially attending seminary in Atlanta, where they lived before moving to Houston. Allison’s parents live in Houston and her job as Clinical Team Leader at Pfizer offers the flexibility of working from home, providing the best of all worlds to be close to family and for Dave to pursue his goals for ministry. Beginning in January this year, Dave joined the Sienna Campus at Houston’s First as a staff intern, an unexpected holiday blessing God opened to him soon after having surgery to remove a benign tumor behind his eye.
“I’ve tried to lean into God’s leading, being open and taking a ‘Thy will be done’ approach to life and ministry,” said Dave. “My brain tumor has given me a new perspective: I have greater empathy as I talk and pray with hospital patients. God has a purpose and plan for our lives. He is in control, and He gives peace.”
The Pastoral Care office at Houston’s First comes alongside anyone experiencing illness, loss, grief or a variety of other personal challenges. Visit the Pastoral Care page or contact Denise Munton at Denise.Munton@HoustonsFirst.org or 713.957.6761 to learn more about the support they provide — and how you could be a volunteer, too.