IT SOUNDS LIKE I’M UNDERWATER, thought Kallie. Studying elementary education at Kansas State University, she struggled to hear her professors’ words in the lecture halls. Thinking she must have an ear infection, she called her doctor back home and received a couple rounds of antibiotics. It didn’t help, but she adjusted and put it out of her mind.
A few years later, now married to Jeremy and enjoying their newborn son, Cade, she discovered the issue hadn’t gone away. Jeremy noticed that when Kallie slept on her right side, she didn’t hear the baby monitor. He told her, “You have to go to the ENT [ear, nose, and throat] specialist and find out what’s going on.”
Kallie remembers walking in with a snooty attitude, saying to herself, “I hope I don’t have to wear hearing aids.” At the end of the appointment she walked out humbled, saying, “Oh, I wish a hearing aid would fix this!”
The audiogram had revealed that Kallie was 100 percent deaf in her left ear and had significant hearing loss in her right ear. The specialist ordered an MRI, which showed the presence of two acoustic neuromas, nonmalignant tumors. Kallie was referred to a team of three more specialists—a neuro-otologist, a neurosurgeon, and an oncologist. They determined that radiation would be the best treatment, so a few weeks later Kallie underwent radiation on her left side. Eleven months later she had radiation on the right side in the hopes it would stop tumor growth.
During her medical consultations she also learned that bilateral acoustic neuromas usually indicate a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). She was tested, and the diagnosis was verified. She and Jeremy had their young son tested, and his results also came back positive. This confirmed that both Kallie and Cade have mutations in their NF2 genes, which regulate the production of a protein that functions as a tumor suppressor.
While there are treatments to manage symptoms, there is no cure. Kallie’s doctor told her, “You’ll be completely deaf by the time you’re 30. And people with this diagnosis often experience paralysis as tumors invade their spine and brain.”
After hearing this news, and especially after her son’s diagnosis, Kallie felt scared, but the verse she clung
to—and continues to claim—is Deuteronomy 31:8: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
“God tells us He will handle our fear for us,” she says with conviction. “I went to Him time and time again, especially with our son. He has provided in His timing. I’m 35, and I’m not deaf. But however long I’m able to hear will be long enough, and I’m fulfilled knowing He will show me exactly how long is enough.”
Kallie says she also has “an army of prayer warriors.” She shares, “We crumble at times; we’re not always strong. But when we falter, we lean on like-minded individuals, people who have faith and can help pick us up when our faith is in the valley.”
Her husband, Jeremy, is one of those people for her and Cade.
“He’s our rock,” she says. “Our life expectancy isn’t as long, and he took his vows before we knew I had this disorder, promising in sickness and in health. I can’t imagine being him, knowing that his two people won’t be around as long. But there hasn’t been even one time when he’s made me feel guilty. He’s the calm to my storm.”
She says Cade is also a huge inspiration and faith warrior. He was only 4 when he found out he had the same genetic disorder. He said to her, “Mama, we’re just going to give it to God.”
Even though Kallie is deaf in her left ear and has only 20 percent hearing in her right, she hears what’s important and lives by faith.