The volleyball girls at Frenship High School hosted a game against Coronado High.
Frenship lost the game but celebrated a different kind of victory - the amazing comeback of their coach who returns this season after suffering a year long illness.
A mysterious illness forced Volleyball Coach Jennifer McCulley to miss the entire season last year. She says now that the pain was just so bad and so constant that she was never free from the pain, except when she was perfectly still. Baily Wilbanks, one of her players, says it was heartbreaking to watch her because she kept getting worse and worse. Within a few months, Jennifer was diagnosed with not one illness, but multiple auto-immune disorders in which the immune system attacks itself. She says, "I tested positive for Lyme's disease, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Raynaud's, Polymyositis, Dermatomyositis, and Scleroderma. There were just times when I felt hopeless."
Frenship parents and players wore wrist bands that said Pray for Mcculley, while jennifer wrapped herself in a blanket that a friend gave her. It was covered with healing scriptures from corner to corner. However, Jennifer's condition began to deteriorate, with painful sores on both hands. Eventually, volleyball wasn't even a priority anymore. She just hoped that she could live to see her two young children grow up.
Dr. Amy Brackeen, a Dermatologist, says "At the point that we saw her, she was not able to dress herself, not able to feed herself. it could have been terminal. Auto-immune diseases used to be often terminal before we had the wonderful treatments we have now."
Coach Mcculley credits Dr. Brackeen for turning things around and finding new doctors who got better results. Ironically, the same medicine that didn't work the first time…began to work the second time. Dr. Brackeen explains, "Now that she's getting control, her out of control immune system is being controlled and some of those antibodies are not detected in lab tests anymore. that's a good sign." But Coach McCulley says, "I don't have any other answer. it's just god's time for me to get out of my nightmare."
Perhaps it takes more than science for a comeback like this one. Dr. Brackeen adds "I think the combination is what we need. We need good spiritual support, family, God, friends and we need medical care."
One thing is certain, as the fall semester gets underway this week, Coach McCulley is back in action, training with the team, and amazingly, she has no pain… and she takes no medication.
Her explanation is a spiritual one…
"I guess God has big plans for me," she says. "He didn't cause this illness. He doesn't cause bad things to happen. I'm just so glad that He answered my prayers."
Copyright 2012 KCBD. All rights reserved.