Nancy McClung-Taylor was born on May 21, 1967 and by all indications was a perfectly healthy baby. At three months old, Nancy became constantly sick and was not gaining weight so her Mom, Jane, took her to the doctor and was shocked when she was asked about Nancy’s neurosurgeon. Jane said the doctor knew what was wrong with Nancy just by looking at her. Her mom who had no idea, Nancy had Hydrocephalus, a condition caused by excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain.
Nancy was admitted to the hospital, but was unable to undergo surgery immediately due to a kidney infection. In an attempt to relieve pressure until surgery was possible, doctors had to draw fluid from her brain using a needle.
On Oct. 10, 1967, Nancy had her first surgery. A shunt was placed at the base of her skull to route fluid away from the brain where it could be reabsorbed into her bloodstream. Going into surgery, doctors told Jane to never expect anymore of Nancy than what she was able to do at that time because they expected massive amounts of brain damage due to the amount of pressure that had been on her brain.
Jane remembers the surgeon told her Nancy could end up blind, deaf, and paralyzed, have stunted growth or be mentally altered due to the amount of pressure on her brain. Jane said she knew not only were the doctors wrong about Nancy incurring brain damage but also that she was proving to be very smart. Jane proudly relayed that, “My daughter didn’t have a first word, she had a first sentence, ‘Daddy wanna go,’ were her first words when she saw her father leaving the house.” Jane also said Nancy was humming herself to sleep at six months old to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me.”
Nancy’s father Joe remembers his prayer during the time of Nancy’s kidney infection… “Lord, we want her and that might be selfish, but you’re will be done.” He said the next day her infection was gone and they were able to do Nancy’s surgery two days after that. Joe said he has prayed the same prayer after every surgery, and that it helped him surrender to God’s will.
Nancy’s older brother Jody, who was born in March of 1959, said Nancy’s experience also allowed him to understand God’s will and helped him to be compassionate as well. He admitted he became very protective of Nancy and deeply cared for her and was able to transfer that caring to others as he grew older.
In 1968, Nancy’s younger brother John was born, and life for the McClung’s was relatively calm until the 1970s when Nancy underwent five more surgeries. As Nancy grew, her shunt had to be modified, so she spent most of 1970 in the hospital. The first three surgeries were back to back. Nancy celebrated her third birthday in the hospital, and barely missed being at home to see the birth of her younger sister Aley.
In 1975, Nancy’s family moved to Pennsylvania where her father began pastoring a church there and was also the year of Nancy’s fifth surgery. Up until then Nancy’s surgeries had all been performed by Doctor H.T. Dukes, who Nancy loved because he called her “Tiger,” and because he gave God the credit for Nancy’s ongoing surgical successes, saying, “God gave me the knowledge to operate, but any healing, God does.” Her surgery in Pennsylvania was successful, but the experience the family had at the hospital was so terrible that in 1977, when Nancy had her sixth surgery, they traveled back to Florida. At that time Nancy was 10 years old and in the fifth grade.
Middle School is difficult for most children, but for Nancy, it was even harder. Nancy’s father had taken a break from pastoring and had gone into management training with Jane after moving to Atlanta. In one year, Nancy said she attended five different schools. She also had no hair as she was recovering from her surgeries. Despite this, Nancy was receiving recognition for her academic achievements in school, but even with her positive achievements, school is where Nancy’s most traumatic consequence from her medical history would occur. To cover her lack of hair, she wore a wig to school and while walking home one day, a group of eighth graders came from behind and pulled off the wig, exposing her baldness. Nancy was devastated and said that was the last time she would ever wear a wig. Another consequence Nancy remembers, although not nearly as traumatic, was when her hair grew back. It wasn’t the soft curls she had always had. Her new hair was course and “frizzy;” not such a good thing for a teenage girl concerned about her appearance.
In the fall of 1983, Nancy and her family returned to Madison, where she attended Madison County High School. With high grades, she joined the school’s Honor Society and in doing so, met her future husband Phillip Taylor. She graduated high school as the class Valedictorian and enrolled into NFJC (North Florida Junior College), where she would be recognized as a “Who’s Who” among students and graduate from the college with a 3.74 GPA, magna cum laude, again dispelling a diagnosis of “massive brain damage.”
Nancy entered Berry College in Rome, Ga. and in November of 1988, graduated with a BA in English and minor in Business. In 1989, Phillip and Nancy announced their engagement with a wedding day set for May 6 of that same year.
In 1989, one week before Nancy and Phillip’s wedding, Nancy developed a headache that became severe and was accompanied with nausea. The day of the wedding, Nancy was still not feeling well and her eyes had developed a worrisome stare, but she refused to call off the wedding. When she was standing outside the church, preparing to go down the aisle, Dr. Bibb was so concerned about Nancy he sent for her parents, who had already been seated for the ceremony. Nancy refused a thorough examination because she was determined to make it down the aisle and carry through with the wedding, which she did.
After the ceremonies were over, Nancy and Phillip spent the night at his family’s home. The next morning, Phillip wasn’t able to wake Nancy, so with the help of his sister, the two loaded her into the car and drove her to South Georgia. Married less than 24 hours, Dr. Wade Wren confirmed Nancy was in a coma and needed immediate surgery to survive. He also told Phillip he didn’t expect her to come out of surgery as the same person that she was before. Nancy’s surgery required two surgeons working on her, at the same time, and working quickly, in order to save her life. It was only after the surgery Dr. Wren confided to the family Nancy had been very close to death.
The surgery had taken place during Sunday evening church services, and according to Nancy and her family, five different church services came to a halt in order to pray for Nancy during the surgery. The prayer vigil included New Testament Church in Madison, who was pastored by Jim Johnson at the time and also where Phillip’s father was a church elder; churches in Valdosta and Mt. Olive, where Nancy’s father had previously pastored, along with his current church in North Dakota, and the church where Nancy and Phillip had attended while in school at Rome, Ga. While the five churches prayed, there were also a large number of people who had gathered at the hospital praying for Nancy. Her mother said they were spilling out of the surgery recovery room and completely filled the hospital’s waiting room, with a large number of people outside of the churches and hospital praying for her as well.
After the surgery was over, Nancy awoke around midnight, to see her Mom and Phillip, who were nervously waiting to learn her condition. Nancy, concerned about a friend who had attended the wedding and returned home knowing nothing about her surgery, asked Phillip to call the friend. Nancy easily rattled off the correct phone number, causing Phillip to turn to Nancy’s Mom and say, “I’m going to the waiting room to get some rest, my wife is fine.”
Nancy made it until August of the next year, 1990, when she went back to the hospital for surgery eight. She had developed a small headache, but did not let it stop her from taking a North Dakota vacation to visit her family. After returning home, it was strongly suggested by her mother-in-law to make an appointment with her doctor, who was now very familiar with Nancy’s symptoms. The visit resulted in surgery, which Nancy said went well with her going back to work after just a few weeks.
January 1st, 1991, Nancy made a resolution for the year, no surgeries. Her resolution, however, was broken the very next day when a bookshelf collapsed at her work, causing a notary seal to fall and strike Nancy in the back of her head. After the incident, Nancy said she was fine and felt there was no need to see a doctor, but after a few days, her boss “more than encouraged” her to see a physician and even called husband Phillip to tell him, “I don’t like those eyes;” referring to the similar way Nancy’s eyes had appeared at her wedding. At the doctor’s it was discovered the falling seal had severed the shunt in her head, requiring Nancy to have surgery number nine.
Nancy was able to avoid any complications or surgeries for several years, until 1994, when she had her tenth surgery, necessary due to protein build up in her shunt that had created a blockage. Five years later, on August 18, 1999, Nancy and Phillip’s daughter Sara was born. Nancy was given phenergan due to nausea, and suffered a violent side effect from the drug that caused her to have a grand mal seizure during labor. Three years later, April 17, 2002, her second daughter Erin was born. Nancy abstained from taking any medications during labor this time and had no problems.
In 2009, after going 15 years without a surgery, Nancy went in for her eleventh, for the removal of more protein deposits. She said this was the first time her children had seen her really sick. Sara, 10 and Erin, seven had to endure short visiting hours and worry, as they were not used to seeing their mother in the hospital or understand what was happening. Nancy said it was hard for her because she wasn’t able to care for them, which made her feel helpless. Luckily, Nancy said the surgery was short and recovery was fast, enabling her to bounce back quickly.
The next lapse between surgeries would not be as long. In 2013, Nancy was participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event as one of the events’ co-chairs, and on a Tuesday wrap-up party, after the event weekend, Nancy collapsed. She admits she had been very busy with details, doing lots of running around and attributed that to her collapse. Dr. Craig Fredricks in Thomasville, Ga. performed Nancy’s twelfth surgery. Nancy was in and out of the hospital in three days. In response to the quick recovery time she said, “I go down fast, but bounce back fast too. It’s all due to a lot of prayer and God’s grace.”
In September of this year, 2014, Nancy landed back in the hospital, due to an act Nancy called “stupid.” In August, she was getting into her mother’s car and hit her head. There were no headaches or other symptoms from the accident and Nancy thought nothing of it, especially since it wasn’t on the side of her head where her shunt was located.
Around Sept. 20th, she began feeling dizzy and nauseated, developed tingling in her hands and began seeing flashing lights. Phillip drove her to Thomasville for a CT scan, and Nancy had a seizure while in the emergency room. The scan showed no pressure on her brain, but the neurosurgeon diagnosed Nancy with a brain bleed, caused from the blow to her head. Nancy remained in the hospital for a week so the bleeding in her brain could remain under observation, as well as any potential seizure activity. Oddly enough, the surgeon told Nancy the random act of hitting her head and developing the brain bleed was not caused by her medical condition but that it could have happened to anybody. Nancy marveled at the odds, wondering why it happened to her, but afterward said she found the whole situation somewhat amusing.
Nancy Taylor knows she has overcome some serious odds in all she’s accomplished in her life. After she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and her mother was told Nancy could have massive amounts of brain damage, be mentally altered, be blind, deaf or paralyzed, she proved it all wrong by speaking sentences before words, walking, talking and singing early. She was in her school’s honor society, became a graduating valedictorian, was recognized as a “Who’s Who” among students in college and graduated with a 3.74 GPA, magna cum laude and earned a BA degree in English with a minor in Business. She became a wife, a mother to two daughters, has been an employee in the work force, volunteers for the American Cancer Society and now teaches at New Testament Christian School.
Doctors have told Nancy she is not a “typical hydrocephalic” which Nancy knows as she has met other individuals who were diagnosed with hydrocephalus. Some of these individuals were unable to do basic skills and needed constant care. Nancy said she knows she is blessed and has abundant and sincere gratitude to God, her family and her friends. “I KNOW the prayers and support of these people is what has sustained me,” says Nancy. “It has been in response to their prayers that God has moved repeatedly on my behalf.” Nancy said even when her immediate family had moved away, Phillip’s parents, Johnny and Margaret Taylor, were there, standing in the gap to care for and look over her. From 1989 until 1998, she said she was totally dependent upon them. Nancy said even today, she has lost count of how many people in Madison still stop her and inquire about her health and continue to assure her of their prayers.
Nancy’s mother Jane said, “Nancy was the answer to prayer for both me and my husband Joe, as well as her brother Jody. Her whole life has been a miracle.” Nancy chooses to defer to scripture in the Bible on her situation. Two of her favorite scriptures speak to her concerning her life’s journey: