When we face adversity in life, it’s how we react to it that determines our true character. These difficult hardships aren’t what define us, but the way in which we react to them is what reveals our true character. For the first feature on BWP Community, I have the honor of sharing an inspirational story of a courageous woman who chose to overcome a particular adversity she faced by using it as an opportunity for growth, deep appreciation and above all, compassion.
In 2006, Angel Faulk consulted her doctor after she noticed hearing loss in her right ear. The doctor assured her that this was a normal symptom at the age of 40, yet three years later, Angel discovered this not to be the case.
During the middle of the night in 2009, Angel had awoken to an extremely loud crunching noise in her right ear that resulted in a complete hearing loss on that side. She laid there scared until the next morning to make a trip to the doctors where Angel received an MRI, showing a monstrous brain tumor located on her brain stem.
October 21, 2009, marks the date that Angel underwent an invasive fourteen-hour surgery to remove this meningioma tumor. The doctors forwarned Angel that she may experience temporary facial paralysis. Despite a multitude of health obstacles thrown her away, Angel chose to have faith in God as she endured this difficult journey.
“When I looked in the mirror for the first time I was expecting it to be bad. Oddly enough, I didn’t cry or feel sad. I just prayed as I looked at my face and said, ‘We are getting ready for another adventure, aren’t we God?”
Post surgery, Angel found that her facial paralysis worsened. She shares that although going to facial therapy helped somewhat, her face never fully recovered from the tumor removal surgery.
Although looking in the mirror and reflecting on videos/photos of the way she used to look was difficult at first. She chose to have faith in God by trusting this journey while also receiving endless love and support helped her through this challenging time. So many friends rallied around Angel during her recovery. They brought her food, cleaned the house and took care of her kids while she focused on getting better.
Not only did she receive an immense support from friends but her family stuck by her side through this health journey which created an impact on them as well. She mentions that recently her daughter, Lydia, shared with her that she is more beautiful now when they recently attended an event where Angel shared her story with 30 women. This was a very proud moment for Lydia. Angel’s son, Ethan, is actually considering pursuing a career in medicine because his mom’s journey enduring a brain tumor!
In fact, today, Angel has become a large advocate and supporter for brain tumor research. As May is the Brain Tumor Awareness Month, she shows her efforts through her involvement in the Brain Tumor 5k annually and through fund raising money by leading dance parties, selling shirts, etc. which has made a tremendous impact in her community. Not only is this a month where Angel is able to reflect on her own journey, but it’s an opportunity to bringing people together, rallying for an important cause. Once the fundraising is complete, Angel and Ethan donate the money every year towards tumor research to Dr. Reid Thomposon, Chairman of Neurological Surgery and Director of the Vanderbilt Brain Tumor Center. Angel shares that Dr. Thompson was her surgeon and he is now a dear friend of hers. P
Reflecting back on this journey, Angel has learned incredible lessons.
She started working with children with disabilities which had a great emotional impact on her. Angel briefly describes a situation that she had personally experienced as she was shopping alone in Target a few months post surgery. While checking out, Angel noticed the cashier giving her a, ‘you must be special smile.’ The look on this cashiers’ face as well her condescending voice was too much for Angel. She was horrified to think that this cashier thought she was mentally challenged.
“I have a very good friend named Scotty who has down syndrome. He goes to my church and takes my Zumba class. From then on, I was very intentional NEVER to treat him that way.”
Angel also dedicates her days far from being just your average fitness instructor. She transformed her fitness center into a ministry naming it, Fit To Praise. Not only does she inspire those to a new level of fitness, but she also serves as a motivational speaker through these training sessions with her vibrant personality. The importance of fitness, nutrition, and healthy living through Spirit, Mind and Body is what she intends to evoke.
In regards to beauty advice, she explains the importance of embracing who we are as individuals by looking in the mirror every day telling ourselves that we are beautiful. She explains that even if we don’t feel beautiful all the time, having faith in reminding ourselves of our beauty is important. Through telling herself she is beautiful, Angel says this has made a true impact on her daughter. She wants Lydia to go through life knowing she’s beautiful and that she is called to love others as she should love herself!
“Everyone has a story and a struggle in some part of their life. We have an opportunity to turn our misery into ministry, our trials into a testimony, our pain into a blessing in disguise!” ♥
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Fit To Praise Website