The following was written by Sara Frank, the mother of Allison Frank. It details what God did in Allison's life through the faithful prayer of her parents, family, and friends.
"A little over three years ago, our oldest daughter was diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis, a rare autoimmune disease that can attack the skin, muscles, and internal organs. At our first appointment with the rheumatologist, he told us we needed to start her on medicine right away. He said that without it, her disease would only progress and that the longer we waited, the harder it would be to reverse the damage. The standard treatment was a minimum of two years on steroids and chemotherapy. We were honestly terrified, and told him we weren’t ready to decide that day, and needed time to pray about it.
After that first appointment, I became obsessed with researching everything I could about the disease. I would stay up most of the night every night, just starring at the computer screen and bawling. I was in the darkest place I had ever been, and so depressed that I just wanted to die so I could escape it all. I discovered through the research that before medication was introduced a third of the kids died from the disease, and a third were left permanently disabled; but with the medication, kids also passed away, because of the side effects. Either way felt so scary, and I couldn’t handle the thought of losing one of our kids. I often kept a lot of the information, and my emotions, from my husband. Because I was doing all of the research, his attitude was affected by mine, and I didn’t want him to lose hope.
Looking back, I was in such denial, and so upset, that I just didn’t go to God right away. I can be a huge control freak, and I think I believed that if I could just read enough, I would find some magic answer, and it would all go away. The weight was unbearable, and after several weeks of little to no sleep, I couldn’t handle it any longer – I was ready to just surrender to God. I felt led to start asking people to pray for miraculous healing for Allison and wisdom for us. We asked everyone we knew to pray for those two things, over and over. It still makes me emotional every time I think about a friend who looked at me one day and said, “You know I’m not the praying type, but I’ve been praying for your daughter.” God was carrying us through with the prayers and love of so many people.
“I couldn’t handle it any longer – I was ready to just surrender to God.”
It was during this time, that I literally felt closer to God than ever before. I wanted to really know and hear Him, so I began to set aside very quiet times with Him in the mornings. One morning, I felt led to pray “God, please don’t let me be unchanged by this.” I had been struggling with condemnation and wondering if maybe this was all a consequence for my sins. But if it was, I knew God didn’t want me to sit in that, but to change. Right away, I had two things come to my mind – sin issues I had been struggling with, and I knew God was calling me to deal with them. Since that morning, I have had freedom from those sins. I began to realize that God was using this trial to bring us closer to Him and make us more into the people He wanted us to be.
James 1 became our verse, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I read that verse over and over and started to believe and see how we were finding the greatest joy in the midst of the hardest time of our life. Being that close to God was the best place we had ever been.
In the midst of all this, we were still undecided on the course of treatment for our daughter, and still seeking prayers and wisdom. In a short time period, I had three separate, unrelated people all suggest that we contact the same naturopath doctor in California, so we contacted her! She did some tests, and gave us a list of supplements she recommended. One morning, I prayed over the list, and was able to write exactly the ones I felt God was leading us to! We had also been told by several friends to try changing our diet, so we prayed over that as well, and totally felt Him leading us to the changes we should make. It was all a little overwhelming, but so cool because we felt like we were really hearing from God, and that gave us strength and hope that these changes might help with our daughter’s healing.
In the meantime, we knew we had to really pray about the steroids and chemo too. We had our third appointment with the rheumatologist coming up (about 3 months since the diagnosis), and we had to make a decision. My husband and I had both been praying, and the morning of the appointment we both felt led to the same thing: the doctor had been telling us we should do an MRI to see how much damage had been done to her muscles, and we both felt like we were supposed to agree to the MRI and let the results determine the treatment. If there was any sign of damage, we would start her on the meds, and if there wasn’t, we wouldn’t.
The MRI itself had been a scary decision because it was two-hours long and she would have to go under general anesthesia. The day of the scan, I would normally have been full of fear and anxiety, but instead, we felt a total sense of peace. We knew we had done all we could and that we had so many prayer warriors who had really, truly been praying. For the first time, right before she went back for her MRI, we texted all of our friends and asked “Please just pray for God’s will to be done.” It was such a hard thing to ask for, but we knew that it was the safest and best place to be, in His will. We were finally okay with whatever plans He had for our daughter’s life.
"We were finally okay with whatever plans He had for our daughter’s life."
The wait for the results seemed like an eternity. When we finally got the call, the nurse told us the results had come back completely clear … there was zero sign of damage. They had also done an echocardiogram and PFT to check her heart and lungs, and those came back completely normal as well! We couldn’t believe it. I have never been that emotional or in awe of God. I hung up the phone and started balling and worshipping like crazy. I sang and danced around the house the rest of the day, just yelling to our girls that God is SO good. We knew He had given us His answer.
We went to our next appointment shortly after, and the doctor agreed to let us hold off on the medication, as long as we came back for appointments every two months. So every two months we went in, and each time, our daughter’s symptoms disappeared more and more. Before long, she had no symptoms left, and no sign of disease. It was seriously a miracle. Our doctor told us he had never seen this in his career, and had no explanation for how it could have happened. We told him we knew exactly how it happened – God had answered prayer. We are now over three years since her diagnosis and although they say you never “get rid” of an autoimmune disease, she is still symptom free, and we are still treating with just food and vitamins. Every day is a gift.
We are honored and humbled that God chose to give this story to us. We can see clearly now how he used every detail to make us better, make us closer to Him, and guide us in the directions He wanted us to go. And our daughter, at a young age, has been given a testimony she will never forget. So cool.