The month of May started out just as any other month for local sophomore, Elochukwu Eze. Eze, who moved here from Nigeria two years ago, is a student at Calvary Christian Academy and a starter for the Eagles Basketball team averaging six points and 12 rebounds a game. In recent weeks, however, Eze complained about headaches and claimed to be sensitive to light. Many of his teachers saw these symptoms but thought nothing of it.
“He came into my class and didn’t look the same… For the past several months he seemed less happy and excited than he usually was,” said Charlene Isom, his English teacher, when she visited him in the hospital.
Eze started to struggle to walk, and on May 4th he began throwing up. Geoff Still, Eze’s legal guardian, took him straight to the Coral Springs Medical Center. Once there, Elochukwu received news that would change his life and the lives of those around him.
Rushed in for a CAT-scan, Eze discovered he had a brain tumor measuring 5-by-5-by-4 centimeters – almost one-fourth the size of his brain – covering the left frontal lobe. For Eze this was all too real.
Immediately after finding the tumor, doctors rushed him to Broward Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale for surgery. At 2:00 in the afternoon, the surgery began.
“As a family we were very nervous,” said Geoff Still. “Brain surgery is hard for people in their prime; I can’t imagine how hard it must be for him.”
The surgery went on for almost three hours, and at the end of the surgery, the tumor was cut out and sent to the University of Florida for analysis.
Calvary Christian Academy (CCA), where Eze attends, had the whole staff praying. What started out as an email to explain why his guardian Geoff Still was not coming into work became a school-wide prayer. Since the day Eze was in surgery was the National Day of Prayer, Eze was in the hearts of many. CCA also began reaching out to nearby schools and alumni, as did many of Eze’s friends. Very soon there were people in Tampa, Orlando and Tallahassee praying for Eze.
After the prayers hit statewide, different alumni from all over the country prayed for Eze. By May 9th, the story was all over the country. Prayers from the East and West Coast were coming in to Still’s email, and much to his shock, they all wished to inquire how his family was holding up.
In Nigeria, Eze’s home country, prayers were also being offered up. However, along with those prayers were songs of thankfulness. “If he were in Nigeria, he would not have had this treatment, and it most likely would’ve been different,” Still said a week after the surgery. “It was God’s hand that brought him here, and while at the time we didn’t know why, we firmly believe now, that [a reason] why he came here was for this operation.”
Three days after the surgery, Eze began to do things on his own. He is currently re-learning his basic skills, ones that are taken for granted every day: brushing his teeth, using his phone and even walking. The physical therapist was amazed to see Eze responding, eating and walking around with little to no complication.
“He is expected to make a full recovery; however, he’s got a long road ahead of him,” said Still. “He has to go through oncology now and after that he’ll be doing a lot of physical and occupational therapy,” Still said. “He’s had a lot of support from his family, teammates, school and friends. We’ve been in constant contact with his family throughout everything and we’re hoping to get them here. Elochukwu is very strong spiritually, and he’s never complained when the nurses and doctors ask him to do things, even if they’re painful. He’s remarkable.”
Eze is currently at home resting and thanking God for this experience and the blessing. “You need to know that life can end any second,” Eze said at Calvary’s last Chapel of the year on May 20. “But that doesn’t mean go crazy, we all must live for God.”
There is one thing that has still yet to be done. Eze’s family is in Nigeria and a gofundme.com account has been set up to help bring his parents over to the United States so they can see their son. You can help by donating at www.gofundme.com/2357p78.
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, NLT).
Geoffrey Still is an intern with Good News, student editor of Calvary Christian Academy’s SOAR.ccaeagles.org and founder of the “Crusader Corner” at Coral Springs Christian Academy.