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A Discipleship Pastor’s Flip Over the Handlebars Leads To Scary Discovery and Thankfulness

brain tumor
Tan Flippin's serious bike accident led to the discovery of a brain tumor. Flippin believes the crash was the providence of God. (Submitted photo)

GRANBURY, Texas (BP) — January 27, 2018, was a cool and windy day in North Texas, but one that asked for a bike ride.

Ever since a torn meniscus ended his running regimen, Tan Flippin had spent considerable time on a bicycle to stay in shape. That day the then-57-year-old was riding along a stretch beside a subdivision – a stretch that had recently undergone some street repair.

“I guess they had a little bit of asphalt left over and put it on the shoulder,” he said. “I’d gone through that area before with no issues.”

Flippin’s front tire found the asphalt and he – yes – flipped over the handlebars with his shoes coming unclipped from the pedals.

“I’d had a lot of wrecks and just got up and brushed myself off,” he said. “But this time there was a terrible pain in my right hip and I couldn’t stand.”

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His wife, Janet, drove him to the hospital where it was confirmed he had four fractures in his hip. Due to the nature of the accident, doctors wanted a CT scan to check for a concussion.

Flippin waved them off at first, but doctors (and wives) win those debates.

They brought back somber news. A mass appeared at the front of Flippin’s skull, pressing against his brain. Probably a brain bleed, considering the accident. They would check again.

Their return brought a different find. Flippin had a baseball-sized tumor. He would later learn it was malignant.

Since February 2014, Flippin has been leading those at Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury, Texas into a deeper walk with Christ as discipleship pastor. He is convinced God allowed his bicycle wreck for the tumor to be discovered and give him the path of growing closer to Christ through the experiences to follow.

“If I had looked forward one second earlier, I would have seen the clump of asphalt and avoided it,” he said. “God allowed the accident for my brain tumor to be found.”

The morning after his wreck, Flippin was flown to a Fort Worth hospital where a plate was inserted to hold his hip together. The next 103 days were spent mostly using a walker to get around; a wheelchair proved more useful and faster on Sundays.

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Two months after the accident he returned to the same hospital, this time to undergo a craniotomy to remove the tumor.

There is nothing simple about surgery related to the brain, as the neurologist made clear to the couple.