Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: #iWill

Early on in this breast cancer journey I decided my doctor appointments would be “date” days with my Love (Jesus). It was the only way I could motivate myself to get out of bed on doctor appointment days and look the best that I possibly could despite how I felt. Often I would have to get up at least three hours before an appointment to be able to shower, get dressed, put on a full face of makeup (you cannot go on a date without putting your best face forward. Lol), and get out the door. It doesn’t take me quite as long now, but doctor appointment day is still tough. Physically, I just haven’t recovered from my breast cancer world tour (surgery, chemo, radiation) yet. So, many days are hard to get out of bed at all.

Of late, doctor appointment dates with my Love have been challenging, because I have been so confused by what is actually happening. At my last visit with my oncologists he discovered a lump in my left breast (the site of the original cancer) that was not there at my last visit in April. I noticed the lump a few weeks ago and it has been increasingly painful. I wasn’t concerned, because after my MRI and ultrasound last month the powers that be seemed convinced what they were seeing was merely scar tissue. I don’t know that I was as convinced as they were, but I figured I’d go with it, because mentally I could not handle having even one more test or procedure. I was spent. That was before the lump.

Today was another doctor appointment date day for my Love and me. Today we saw my favorite of my team of doctors, my PCP, whom I am convinced is the BEST doctor on the planet! He has been my doctor for over ten years. We have gone through my stroke, my divorce, and now my breast cancer together. I trust him. He listens and doesn’t talk over me. And he is beyond thorough, leaving no stone unturned when faced with a medical issue. Still, I woke up nervous and apprehensive about the appointment.

As I pulled into the parking garage a song called, “#iWill by G. Mayes played that ignited a fire in me that I cannot explain. The song simply declares I WILL… praise…. worship… submit my life to the Lord… Suddenly, it was as if the darkness is my soul was annihilated by my singing those declarations at the top of my lungs. By the time I got out of the car I was ready to face whatever comes next. It was suddenly amazingly simple. No matter what happens on this side of life, I have my Home in view. And I WILL praise my God for loving me so much that He gave me Jesus to live out my time on this side of Heaven with.

My doctor felt the lump in my breast and said he was somewhat hopeful it may not be cancer, because it felt flat to him, not like a gulf ball. He said it could be just as they have speculated to this point that it is inflammation and scar tissue that has progressed since my last scan. I am scheduled to have another breast MRI next week.

For today, I’m not concerned. I’m still in pain. I still feel sick. But, rather in this body or outside of it I know I am HEALED. So, each day that my Love, graces me with breath in my body on this side of Heaven I WILL praise Him and get on with the business of enjoying this life for however long I am here!

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: The Midnight Hour

In my last blog post “A Place for You and Me” I explained I was waiting to have an ultrasound-guided biopsy on my left breast. The same breast cancer originally reared its ugly head in my body last year.

I had the ultrasound on June 17, 2018 and it was determined the area of concern may just be scar tissue. So, they did not do a biopsy and instead suggested I have a repeat MRI and ultrasound in six months. I was in total agreement and relieved that what they saw actually may be something other than a reoccurrence of the cancer.

Last week at an appointment with my oncologist he discovered a lump in my left breast that was not there at my last visit in May. I am amazed by how quickly things can “pop up” in your body. I am speaking at a phenomenal Women’s Retreat August 24-26, 2018. So, I agreed to follow up with my oncologist and deal with the lump on August 29th, after the retreat.

As I type these words I am still numb inside about what may lie ahead for me. Since my visit with my oncologist, I’ve me asking my Love (Jesus), if all of this fighting to stay on this side of life is really worth it. I fought with all I had in me to recover from the stroke I had in 2011. I suited up in my battle gear and fought harder than I ever have in my life last year to make it through my “Cancer World Tour (surgery, chemo, and radiation).” Today I found myself wondering if I have any fight left in me. I’m just not sure.

However unsure I may be, my Love is always certain. No matter what my life’s circumstance Jesus is always faithful to talk to me and remind me He’s still right here in the fight with me. And in Him victory is not only assured, it’s already done! His words to me in the image I created below really blessed me today. I hope they bless you as well.

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” Acts 16:25-26 NKJV; “…Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5 NKJV

“A Place for You and Me,” Love, Jesus

The past few weeks have been the HARDEST of my breast cancer journey thus far. My current reality is, I am waiting to have an ultrasound-guided biopsy on Thursday of this week to determine if the cancer I fought with all that I had in me to eradicate from my left breast is now trying to reoccur in the same breast.

It has been a real struggle mentally, physically, and most definitely, emotionally to try to prepare myself for what the outcome of the biopsy may be. But, more than that it has been even harder for me to wrap my mind around the notion that my Love, my Jesus, would subject me to even the possibility of starting “Round 2” in a fight that I truly believed was OVER. Knowing me intimately, when He spoke the words in the image I created below it pacified and truly comforted my tumultuous storm of angry, negative, thoughts and emotions, steeped in doubt and confusion.

With purpose, I am daily doing what He instructed and setting aside the time and space for just Him and me where He successfully, without exception, calms my heart so I am able to see clearly no matter what I am experiencing, wherever I am, He is. And as long as He is there, ALL IS WELL! I pray His words bless and encourage you in whatever storm you may be passing through or just your daily living as much as they encouraged me!

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew‬ ‭28:20‬ ‭NIV).”; ‬‬“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭NKJV).”‬‬

Journeying to the other side of Breast Cancer: All is Well…

I got a call from my oncologist yesterday evening. He told me the MRI I had of both breasts last week showed “something” in my left breast that appears to be a small tumor at the base of the sight where the original tumor was. As I listened to his words, I was surprised by how calm and unaffected I was by what he was saying. I listened intently and asked questions to get as much clarity as I could regarding this “something” that has infiltrated by breast, yet again.

When I got off the phone, I immediately shared the results with my oldest daughter. As I heard myself repeating his words, I felt nothing but extreme peace. Inside I knew, no matter what the outcome of all of this, I AM HEALED and all is well. My oncologist sent a message to my breast surgeon to request she see me this week to discuss what our next step should be. I woke up this morning with only the scripture in the image I created below (Matthew 5:45) on my mind.

For today, I am determined to rest in perfect peace, knowing there is an expected end to all of this and on other side of it is my total, complete healing!

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: The Very Best is Yet to Come!

In my April 26, 2018 blog post titled: What if? I explained that I got a call from my oncologist in which he advised me one of my tumor markers were elevated. That phone call set in motion the “test & see” hamster wheel that any fellow warriors who happen to read this post are very familiar with. On that day (April 26th), I had a CT scan of my chest & abdominal cavity, as well as a brain MRI, because I had been experiencing severe migraines and vertigo. Both scans came back clear, with no evidence of any formed tumors (thank God!). Still, of late, I have been experiencing severe pain in my left breast, which has extended to include my right breast.

After talking at length with my oncologist about how I’ve been feeling (it was more like a total emotional break down in his office), he softly explained that a CT scan cannot detect cancer “cells.” It only picks up tumors once they are formed, which requires MILLIONS of cancer cells gathered together. He went on to say he ordered the CT scan, not expecting to see anything in my breasts, but to rule out a tumor in my lungs, because the tumor marker that is elevated (there are 3) is the one you would expect to see elevated in patients who have or have had lung cancer or are smokers. None of those things apply to me. He told me all of my other blood work looked excellent! As a measure of extra precaution, based on how I feel, he ordered an MRI of both of my breasts. He said the MRI may come back clear as well, but it is our best chance of picking up anything that may be the root cause of the pain and overall sickness (nausea, loss of appetite, no energy, insomnia…) I have been experiencing.

I pondered my oncologist’s words for over a week before I was able to actually schedule the MRI. He’d said it would detect anything that may be the root cause of how I’ve been feeling. What if the “anything” is the cancer trying to reoccur? From the day of my initial diagnosis on January 9, 2017, I have said I am HEALED. Knowing and standing on that TRUTH got me through the lumpectomy on January 30, 2017, the six months of chemo and seven weeks of radiation that ultimately followed. I fought with all I had in me from January 9th to November 20th (the date of my last radiation treatment), knowing I am HEALED. I began this New Year, 2018, with what I believed to be confirmation of what I spoke all throughout 2017, I AM HEALED. On January 5th I had my first mammogram since my diagnosis. The results declared I was cancer-free! I finally had a piece of paper in my hand with words written in black and white that were in agreement with what I DECLARED from the beginning!

Now, according to what my BODY is saying, coupled with a clearer understanding of the nature and personality of cancer, I had to actually entertain the possibility that my journey toward total, complete healing may not be as close to finished as I hoped. I have never considered myself to be in “remission.” For me, I’m either healed or I’m not. Declaring myself to be in “remission,” would leave a door open in my mind that MUST remain closed in order for me to live any kind of life worth living. “Remission” leaves open the possibility of traveling back down the long road I have already conquered. My God doesn’t do anything halfway. He does EVERYTHING to completion. I do not say that denying the possibility that the breast cancer may be trying to reoccur. I say that FULLY aware of the possibility, KNOWING even if it tries to resurface it is already defeated, because I AM HEALED.

On Thursday, May 17th I had the MRI of both of my breasts. Because my left breast is already painfully sensitive, the MRI felt like an all out assault on my already “wounded warrior.” On Friday I woke up still in pain and just overall not feeling well. Much to my disappointment, I was feeling so badly that I wasn’t able to attend the surprise family dinner where one of our Princesses became engaged to her Prince Charming. This morning I woke up still in pain, frustrated, and just not in a “chipper” mood.

As I talked to my Love (Jesus) about how I was feeling, I told Him at this point I don’t care if the cancer if trying to reoccur or not. If I know nothing else I can handle cancer, because I KNOW I am healed. I just have to walk out God’s preordained process toward my TOTAL, COMPLETE healing. I’m ONLY concerned about my quality of life! I am sick, of being sick! My Love’s response to my rant (the words in the image I created below) had me dancing around my bedroom singing.

For today, I am a firm believer that when Jesus speaks, His words are far-reaching, and intended to be heard by all who need to hear them. I shared what He said to me, praying His words reach every person, every heart, that needs to hear them!

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9 NIV).”; “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you (Psalm 84:11-12 NIV).”

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: A Mother’s Day

I’ve been up since 2 AM, which isn’t uncommon for a mom. We’re accustomed to being awakened at all hours of the night from the time the first signs of life begin to stir in our wombs. I think I woke up out of excitement that all of my girls, ages 29, 28, 26 and my two grand babies ages 5 and 2 are all here with me this Mother’s Day! I generally see all of them on Mother’s Day. But on THIS Mother’s Day I woke up with my house filled will ALL of my babies, ALL five of my “Heartbeats.” Although it is wonderful to have a date on the calendar set aside to honor our Mothers (Fathers too), a Mother’s Day never ends. It begins at the moment of conception and continues into Eternity.

For Today, as a former teen Mom, having all three of my Earth deposits from Heaven’s Treasury by age 21, I’m going to continue to strive to live my life in such a way that it may be said of me: “Her children arise and call her blessed…(Proverbs‬ ‭31:28‬ ‭NIV)‬‬.” (The quote in the Headline photo is absolute TRUTH; at least it is when it comes to my mama!) Happy Mother’s Day, Ladies!

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: LIVE! Love, Jesus

I’ve always said I haven’t cornered the market on pain and suffering. Everybody is going, has been, or will go, through SOMETHING! This morning, at 3 AM, via the words below, whispered ever so softly in my ears as I desperately tried to remain asleep, my Love reminded me ALL we go through in totality has a name: LIFE! I knew His words weren’t just for me. My prayer is all who read them receive the same boost of energy in spirit as I did when He spoke them to me. There truly is rest for the weary in His arms. But, when you finish resting, GET UP…GET OUT…and LIVE!

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:4‬ ‭NKJV

‬‬“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” ‭‭John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24:30-35‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: A Life Poured Out

Last weekend I had the (dis)pleasure of spending the weekend in Buffalo, NY. It was pleasurable, because it was nice to be in a different place with new scenery as I waited for the results of my CT scan and brain MRI. It was displeasurable because it had the audacity to snow actual snow flurries while I was there! Where does THAT happen in the middle of Spring! Nevertheless, it’s always a good time when I can stay in a nice hotel for a few days and not have to make up my own bed.

While in Buffalo, I gave very little thought to the scans or what the implications of their results may be. I did, however, give a lot of thought to this breast cancer journey in totality thus far. It’s highs and lows, bumps and bruises, moments of uncontrollable laughter and inconsolable tears… It has been a life-changing ride thus far; one I am beginning to understand I may have actually signed up for.

One of the mornings in Buffalo Jesus started our daily morning conversation by asking, “Are you willing to be poured out as a drink offering for Me?” Before I could respond, knowing I did not understand what He was asking, He continued, “A drink offering is simply a choice to have ones life used in magnificent abundance by the Father unto perpetual overflow. To do this you must first be broken, restored, remolded, reshaped, remade. THEN you are stretched; so you are bendable, spendable, and sendable. It is then your life can be poured out upon the lives of others and used in a way that becomes a sweet smelling aroma in My nostrils.”

I wish I could say I immediately jumped up and down in the hotel bathroom, did a dance, and shouted, ‘Yes, Jesus! I would absolutely LOVE to be poured out as a drink offering for You!Thank You for asking!’ But the truth is as I sat on the bathroom floor, my heart tightened beneath my chest. I thought of Paul as he spoke to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:6-7 (NIV), “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” I could hear the weariness in Paul’s voice. But he knew, what I sat on the hotel bathroom floor wondering. Had I, to this point, fought the good fight? And if this particular fight was not over like I hoped could I really continue to do so? Did I really want to be poured out like that? I mean, aren’t a stroke, breast cancer, and the plethora of Lifetime-Movie-of the-week worthy events of my life enough?

Not until I quieted my soul (my own mind, will, and emotions), did I really hear and understand what Jesus said that morning. He invited me to a life of perpetual hugs, praying for people, and making them laugh, which is what I told Him I wanted to do. On the surface it looks and sounds like a lot of suffering. That is why I am getting much better at not looking at things with my eyes, but rather through the lens of purpose.

I have gained so much from this breast cancer journey. I barely even remember my B.C. (Before Cancer) days anymore. Out of something so very painful and ugly, Jesus created a beautiful masterpiece – my NEW life! He gave me a beautiful gift. The wrapping paper was just really ugly.

I had a consultation with my oncologist on Wednesday. My brain MRI was perfect and my CT scan showed no formed tumors anywhere in my body. The next step is a breast MRI of both breasts and if that comes back clear, he will just watch my tumor makers to see if they continue to elevate and go from there. The best part of the visit was when he said, “Ms. Ransome I was surprised you were so calm when I called to tell you your tumor markers were elevated.” To which I responded, ‘There was nothing to get upset about. I am not afraid of cancer or dying. I belong to Jesus. My Bible tells me this place where we live is my Father’s footstool. So, this is not the Utopia. I have my eyes fixed on Home. This is just a place I’m passing through.’ He smiled.

For today, I am so very grateful that I am able to say I do want to live a life that is fully poured out for Jesus. I want to be a completely empty vessel whenever it is time for me to go Home, having poured out, down to the very last drop, everything God deposited in me to share with others.

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: A Living Epistle

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ ‭NKJV‬‬; “Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven.” Psalms‬ ‭107:28-30‬ ‭NKJV‬‬; “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” II Corinthians‬ ‭3:2-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: What If?

Last Thursday I got a phone call from my oncologist for which I wasn’t at all prepared. I had my routine check up with him on Aprill 11th. During that visit, I mentioned I had been experiencing more frequent than usual migraines and with them came vertigo, which I had never experienced before. The migraines where excruciating and the vertigo lasted for a few weeks. He didn’t seem overly concerned, but thought it would be a good idea to order a brain MRI just as a precaution. Though I wasn’t at all happy about the idea of having a brain MRI (it makes me feel like I am in a coffin), I couldn’t help but smile when he said, “I don’t expect to find anything. I know you are well!” It was his way of repeating what I have been saying since I first got my breast cancer diagnosis, ‘I AM HEALED!’

When I go to the oncologist they always do blood work. They explained at length early on they watch my “tumor markers” in particular to try to gauge if the cancer it trying to come back. If the levels elevate or “spike” it gives them a reason to investigate further. To this point, I have always gotten rave reviews about how “wonderful” or “great” my numbers are, until last week. My oncologist called on Thursday to let me know my tumor markers are elevated and along with the brain MRI, I now needed to have some scans to see if there is a reoccurrence of the cancer. His words momentarily took my breath away.

When I got off the phone, I sent my family members a message in our family Group Chat and asked them to pray. I also sent up the smoke signal to my four friends who are true prayer warriors. The last on my list of battle buddies to inform was my mom. Once everyone was aware, I went to Jesus and said, ‘ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW! I’m not saying they’re going to see anything on the scans, Lord. But, I JUST got my cancer-free mammogram in January! Couldn’t I just ride the wave of that for awhile before I get a phone call like THAT!’ Needless to say, there was no response from my Love, to my rant. I spent the rest of the evening frustrated, angry, and in knots inside. Finally, when I couldn’t stand myself any longer, I went to bed only to toss and turn most of the night.

I woke up Friday morning to Jesus asking me a barrage of questions one after the other, “Lisa, if you have to do it all again will you still love Me the same? If you have to do it all again will you do it with joy and light? If you have to do it all again will you do all you can to minister love to those who need to see Me in the midst of their hurt, sickness, pain, and despair? If you have to do it all again, are you still healed? Or is your healing dependent upon what a test says? Or what a doctor says? If you have to do it all again, what does that change between you and Me?”

I went about the rest of my day, Friday, doing some retail therapy, hearing the Lord’s questions echoing loudly in my ears all day long. Macy’s was on my list of stops. Little did I know, God set an appointment for me in front of the store with a very dear friend of my mom’s. I just happened to “bump” into Ms. Diane as I was going into the store and she was leaving. I told her of the phone call I received. In all my years of knowing her I did not know that she too had, had breast cancer in her left breast and had, had a mastectomy and reconstruction many years ago. Oh how she encouraged me! She gave me the biggest, warmest hug that I have received in a really long time. That, alone, was worth the appointment with her. But then, as she held onto me she prayed. As she prayed, I cried. All I could manage to say is, ‘Ms. Diane, I am so tired now.’ She held onto me even tighter and said something I will never forget. She said, “Lisa, God is not mad at or disappointed in you. Your light is just too bright. It’s been one thing after another and you are tired. Sometimes I tell the Lord when the devil mentions my name and asks permission to try me, pleassse say no this time!” I laughed out loud!

It took all day, but when I got home Friday afternoon I was finally able to answer Jesus’ questions from that morning. If I have to do it all again I will absolutely, positively, unequivocally, with my whole heart, soul, mind, and very essence of being love Him the same. If I have to do it all again I will do it with all the joy I can muster for it is His joy that is my strength and I will pray that His light in me is so bright it is BLINDING! If I have to do it all again I will continue to love all over my fellow warriors, their families, and the staff until it is infectious! And I AM HEALED, not because of what a test or a doctor says, but because of what JESUS DID. I will not be moved from that TRUTH. I believe what Isaiah 53:5 says (“…And by His stripes we are healed”). I truly believe Jesus took my cancer with Him to the cross. There, it was defeated. So, if I have to do it all again absolutely NOTHING changes between Him and me. He’s still mine; I’m still His, forever and ever. Amen.

For today, I am so very thankful for my relationship with my loving, comforting, all-knowing, all-sufficient Savior, Lord, and Friend. It really doesn’t matter what the results of the scans are. I’m not worried, anxious, or concerned. Jesus knows all the details. His grace is truly sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9). Come what may, all is well.