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After brain tumor diagnosis, Waldron man gets a miracle

Couple centers on Bible, turning it to God as Waldron man makes miraculous recovery

Published: March 7, 2024   
Garry VanCleve celebrates Thanksgiving 2022 at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mo., after undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor. (Courtesy Garry VanCleve)

When Garry and Mary VanCleve woke up at 5:30 a.m. Nov. 5, 2022, getting ready to enjoy coffee, read the Bible together and pray for family and friends, they didn’t know how their lives were about to change. 

Garry started shaking violently, falling on his head and quickly becoming unresponsive. The emergency medical technicians believed he might have had a stroke and rushed him to Mercy Hospital Fort Smith, where he was immediately brought into a treatment room.

When Mary and their son were allowed in, Garry told them that he had a brain tumor. 

“The technician who did my brain scan prayed with me after she saw the results,” Garry said. “‘I knew when I saw him that this man needed a miracle,’ she said.” 

The technician was the first of several Mercy employees who prayed and supported him over the next month. 

Neurosurgeon Dr. Sami Khoshyomn advised the couple that Garry had a tumor on the right frontal lobe the size of a man’s fist. Because of its size, Khoshyomn would need to peel the tumor off one layer at a time until he was stopped by the possibility of stroke or brain damage. 

After Garry healed, the 74-year-old retired insurance broker would follow up with a non-invasive procedure called CyberKnife to get the rest of the tumor. The first available operating room was available in Springfield, Mo., in late November, so the couple traveled to Mercy Hospital Springfield for the surgery.

Garry stayed at Mercy Hospital Fort Smith briefly as a neurologist and internist evaluated him and prescribed seizure and blood pressure medications. 

After his discharge, the community at St. Jude Thaddeus Church in Waldron (Scott County) supported the couple with prayer and encouragement. 

“After we moved to Mansfield in 2017, we visited several Catholic churches, all at least a 20-minute drive away. We wanted a small parish community and when we met Father Alejandro Puello we knew we had found our home,” Mary VanCleve said. “He has since been transferred, but our new pastor, Father Les Farley, has been wonderful to us. He visited Garry at our home and anointed him. 

In their conversations, Garry told Father Les that he felt like the paralyzed man in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke whose friends lowered him through the roof to be healed. Garry saw his parish community as loving friends who, through their prayers, were lowering him down before Jesus to be healed.

When they arrived at Mercy Hospital Springfield Nov. 21, Khoshyomn’s partner, Dr. Brenton Coger, tried a procedure to slow the blood flow to the tumor in preparation for the next day’s surgery, but discovered that there was a robust blood flow coming from inside the brain. Garry spent the night in intensive care, but Khoshyomn remained upbeat before beginning surgery. 

Mary went to pray in the large chapel, feeling bolstered by God’s promises and the prayers of their friends, family and community. When she was paged to the information desk after only 1 1/2 hours, she became concerned, but Khoshyomn told her that, although there was a robust blood supply the night before, the tumor completely fell into his hands and that no further procedures would be necessary.

“God said in his Word, ‘Let it be done according to your faith (Matthew 9:29),’” Garry VanCleve said. “I felt that God said everything would be all right. In addition to our daily Bible reading, I was helped by the “Saved, Healed” website and the testimony of Dan Downey.”

“Father Alejandro (Puello) always told us, ‘When you can’t do anything else, turn it over to God,’” Mary VanCleve said. “God is so good and will answer prayers.”

Since his surgery, Garry VanCleve has had two clean brain scans. He is starting to write his testimony.

“Hopefully our experience will help someone at the exact time she or he needs it,” Mary said. “I pray that all those who need miracles will know that God is faithful.”

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