When you first walk into the library and turn your head to the left, you will usually see librarian Laurel Watney sitting at the front assisting other students or in her office working on other tasks.
Watney is the Director of the Mabee Library on the Sterling College Campus. She became a part of the staff in 2011 and became the director in 2017.
But what most do not know about her is that she is a warrior.
Her health, faith, and obedience was tested over last year and over the break as she faced a brain tumor.
However, Watney wants her story to not be about her because God was with her and throughout her entire journey. She wants this to reflect God’s provision and his care over her life and so many others.
Doctors diagnosed her with a tumor and told her that one in a million have had her condition before.
Surprisingly, Watney was born with it, and it grew as she got older.
However, started having balance issues over time.
She recalled one time as she was walking down the hallway, she bumped into a wall. This sparked a red flag in which she began to start seeking answers.
She went to multiple doctors before they finally sent her to and ear, nose, and throat specialist.
From there, they assumed that something might have gone wrong in her ear.
They requested an MRI, which revealed that she had a large mass.
Then the doctors sent her to a neurologist.
The neurologist stated that they had found a large mass on her brain stem. After visiting the University of Kansas, she was diagnosed with a ependymoma tumor in the fourth ventricle.
It’s a very rare tumor that young children get. Old men can also get it. Middle aged women usually are not found with tumors like this.
Watney was officially diagnosed with the tumor on June 20, 2020.
Only July 8, Watney went in for medical procedures at KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo.
For recovery, she had a shunt put in her head to remove the drainage. She noted that her surgery and recovery went remarkably well.
Watney said that throughout the entire process she had no fear.
She was so calm that the anesthesiologist noted that she did not need a precursor medication before the procedure.
A bright moment she recalls after procedure was her waking up and seeing her husband, Mark Watney, greeting her.
Mark created a group on Facebook to keep all of Laurel’s friend and family members updated about her health. She said she was amazed by all the love, care, prayers and support she had received from the people she knew and did not know from around the globe.
People she didn’t even know brought her meals over the course of six weeks.
“A lesson learned from this was to pay it forward,” Laurel said.
Laurel started having issues with her right hand in which she was not able to sign her name after surgery. But then she stated that the Lord placed on her heart the Bible verse from Isaiah 41:13,” For I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, ‘ Fear not; I will help thee.”
She felt this verse encouraged her, and she knew that the Lord was there to help her.
Laurel was able to resume working and begin radiation treatments.
This went on for another six weeks.
Laurel said that these treatments were harder than expected, but she is grateful that it wasn’t chemotherapy. She was blessed to have her husband take her to treatments along with a few close friends.
Even though it has been awhile since the surgery and not all symptoms are gone.
She will continue radiation treatments with MRI scans ongoing.
In the midst of all this happening around Laurel and in her body, she said she had the blessing of patience.
She also noted that she still has what most take for granted, which is life.
She accepted God’s plan and understood that this was the way that it was going to be.
As Watney said, God does not give the toughest battles to his weakest soldiers.
God will never give us too much to handle or a battle we cannot bear.
Laurel would like to express her gratitude towards the staff of Sterling College, including her colleagues she works alongside in the library.
She notably thanks Nikki Millhouse for being able to step up and fill her position while she was out during such a stressful time.
She thanks Kristian Robson for being able to come in as well. She said the library would not have been to run smoothly without Millhouse and Robson.