Update from Emily Kinnaman, age 18

Yesterday I took my second trip to Keck Medical Center to visit my mom, along with my dad, grandma and siblings. After quitting my volunteer job in the ICU at the local hospital in Ventura last year, I had hoped I wouldn’t have to go back to an ICU anytime soon. If there is a section of the hospital that could be called comfortable or pleasant, the ICU is not it. But that’s where we went yesterday afternoon.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, as far as my mom. I knew she had looked surprisingly good and acted almost fully herself following the surgery. But clearly she wouldn’t look normal.

Dad and I went in first. We were greeted by my mom, who was completely awake and alert. She had some bed head and the right side of her face was somewhat swollen. But still she looked good—surprisingly good, considering the enormous surgery she’d undergone just the day before.

At one point Dr. Zada came to look over the MRI results from after the surgery, which the radiologists had reviewed beforehand. It looked like about 98% of the tumor, maybe more, was removed, and Dr. Zada seemed really pleased with the surgery overall.

All of us spent the rest of the afternoon with her. We chatted, flipped through my yearbook and watched The BFG (or, at least, my brother, Zack, was interested in it). Later Mom was moved to a room out of the ICU, which hopefully meant a night of more restful sleep where she wouldn’t be woken up every hour to take vitals.

Today she again seems to be feeling well, and there’s a possibility of her being able to come home tonight once all her tests are complete. We’re anticipating and hoping for that.

The hardest part for all of us is the lack of control. We are doing as much as we can: piecing our home-remodel disaster of a house back together, visiting my mom, loving her. But we are powerless to truly fix anything, and that’s terrifying.

But it’s in that weakness that God can work. Please continue to pray for all of us. For healing for my mom. For peace and strength for the rest of us. And especially for my dad as he heads up our family.

Thank you for all of the messages and love we’ve received, we feel it.


One Day After Surgery

First, thank you again for the prayers and support. We feel it. Our family couldn't be walking through this without you. I slept a full night last, feeling like we had crossed a huge hurdle on this journey.

Three hours after surgery, we got to see Jill in intensive care. Honestly, I had some anxiety to see her—you know, brain surgery and all. It's funny the mental images we create about people who undergo medical procedures.

But I was shocked to see how well she was doing. She was wide awake and chewing on ice chips. She was more alert and more "herself" than before the surgery, which was an indication to me of how much the tumor had been affecting her. She zinged us with jokes. She made plans to watch the NBA Finals game last night. And she tried to get untangled from all the wires, cords and tubes crisscrossing her body. 

My friend LaDonna figured her head would be wrapped up like a mummy, but she looked great--only a small strip of bandaged area, a small half-circle arching from her forehead to above her ear. 

The neurosurgeon met with her this morning and remarked how well she's doing; he said a post-op MRI looked good and reminded us that the pathology report will be critical in determining whether any cancer was present and for assessing future treatments. That report comes in the next week or so. So please pray. 

Jill had good reports from occupational therapy (on her range of movement, not her career prospects) and from some other tests I can't remember. The nurse in ICU gave her something to drink and said, with apparent delight, that she hoped it would help Jill have a really big bowel movement. Ah, the highlights of hospital life.

Jill is doing so well the doctor said she may be able to go home in the next few days!

Keep praying for the tests to be negative and for her continued recovery. My friend Chris from Australia sent me an email with Psalm 91 and we were encouraged by these words from God.

It has been an insanely intense 72 hours. Don't forget to tell people close to you how much you love them. Really. Life is a fragile miracle.

We love you and thank you for your prayers.


Jill's Out of Surgery! Update 1:23pm

Jill is out of surgery and we just met with the neurosurgeon. He thinks he got it all. He anticipates it is a glioma, which can range from benign to malignant. It looked benign to the doctor, but we have to wait a week for final tests. It was quite large, so they have to run pathology on all the tissue. He was optimistic about the tissue being soft and coming out easily. Also, he reported there were no bleeding issues.

Jill is in recovery now, and we will get to see her in the next couple of hours. If all goes well, she could come home to recover by the weekend.

All in all, a very encouraging result! Praise God!

Thank you for your prayers! I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support and love. My phone received more texts in the last few hours than in the previous months combined.

We will keep updating this site as we walk through this. Use the link below for RSS, so you're automatically updated with new posts.

Surgery is brutal and beautiful: self-initiated destruction to bring health. And the encouragement of family and friends and leaning into Jesus today cultivated a certain kind of beauty.

Pease continue to pray for Jill.

So grateful,
(for Jill, Emily, Annika and Zack)

Update: 8:15 am

Jill just rolled into surgery. Now we wait for most of the morning on the amazing medical professionals here at USC. 

Jill slept great last night. She's in good spirits. We prayed and shared some nice time together this morning. I asked if she was feeling anxious or scared. "No, not at all. Just thirsty and hot." Grateful for her experiencing such peace. 

Her memory isn't in tip top shape this morning, which benefited me. I could use identical jokes with her several times and got great responses with each telling. (Of course, I never use the same jokes in any other setting, so this was a new experience for me.)

We will keep you updated as we know more. 


Update #2 on Jill, from David

After a day of waiting around on Tuesday, all the tests are completed and we have a plan.

  • Surgery is Wednesday morning, June 7.
  • It's slated to begin about 7 am.
  • The surgeon estimates about four hours for the procedure.

The tumor is a bit larger than a golf ball, on the front right side of the brain. It’s brain surgery, so the neurosurgeon was careful to describe the risks. Still, he was reassuring about the location of the tumor and the way it looks. “Every tumor has a personality of its own,” he said. “So we have to get in there and see.” He described that the front right side of the brain, where they enter to remove the tumor, is one of the most resilient zones of the brain.

The neurosurgeon, Dr. Gabriel Zada, is terrific and we feel pleased to have him do this procedure. He does about 250 brain surgeries a year, which makes my head hurt just to think about.

One of the cool parts of the day: Our kids, Emily, Annika and Zack, got to hear Dr. Zada talk through the procedure and MRI results. I wasn’t sure whether to include them in the discussion, but I am glad it worked out this way. They asked good questions and I didn’t have to try and explain the complicated process to my science-geek kids.

It was a good day of hanging out and praying with Jill. I felt a strange sense of relief to finally get clarity on why she has been feeling so miserable lately. We have an answer and a plan. (For the record, if she wanted some time away from our kitchen remodeling project, she could have just said so.)

Kidding aside, thanks for your prayers. Please pray for Jill and her peace, recovery and healing; for the results of the pathology to be favorable; for the surgeons throughout the day; and for our family.

Again, I want to say that our hope is in Jesus. We are blessed to live in 2017, with science fiction–like medical capabilities. And Jill is at a great hospital in Los Angeles. Still, nothing on earth compares to Jesus.

We will post updates as we have them.

Thanks and much love,

Update #1 on Jill Kinnaman, from David

On June 5, my wife, Jill, went to the emergency room with a terrible migraine. After an MRI, the doctors discovered a tumor on the front right side of her brain. 

She was transferred to Keck Medical Center at USC, and that's where we are now—waiting, waiting, waiting. They plan to do more tests today, including a different type of MRI. We hope to know more soon, and I will update this site as we get a clearer picture of the situation.

Jill is doing pretty well. Resting a lot after a long day yesterday. Pain is still tough but mostly managed with meds. She's had severe migraines for a couple of weeks, so we are glad to have an answer to that, at least. She's an oak tree of strength and calmness. She amazes me. 

I'm doing everything I can to help. For example, the doctors are not allowing Jill to eat (to prep for possible surgery), so I wolfed down her eggs, bacon and French toast from the hospital cafeteria. I am happy to report they were better than the hotel breakfast I had in a Colorado Springs yesterday morning.

We appreciate your prayers. Today you can be praying for:

1) Less pain and good rest for Jill, and for peace in her heart and mind. 

2) Comfort for our kids, Emily, Annika and Zack, and for the rest of our family. Everyone is doing well, but it's hard news. 

3) Clarity and precision in the diagnostics and the doctors' work. 

4) Total healing for Jill! The best possible outcome of surgery, size and impact of tumor, and so on. 

5) That our family and our company could be a witness of God's goodness and grace. 

This is really tough, friends. But we have great confidence in Jesus. He loves Jill more than any of us (even me) ever could, and he is our comforter and healer.

Trusting in him,

P.S. Thank you for your kind offers to help in so many ways! For now, please send Jill a message on Facebook or Instagram. We will update this site with specific requests for assistance, if there is anything we need beyond your faithful prayers.