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.

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: Storms

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11 NIV; “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” Hebrews 3:3-4 NIV

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: I Do!

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NIV; “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9 NIV

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: In Spirit and in Truth…

I spent the day Monday at an Urgent Care facility. Last week I was prescribed a strong antibiotic for a pretty bad sinus infection. My PCP’s description of it was, “Both of your nasal cavities are completely swollen, there is puss in the left nasal cavity (🤢🤮), and your throat looks awful.” I was to take the industrial strength antibiotic twice a day for seven days. He was certain I would be feeling better within a few days. By the end of the week not only did I not feel better, I felt much worse. I was in bed all weekend and by Monday was so miserable as soon as I got out of bed I got myself together and headed to Urgent Care. There, it was determined not only did the antibiotic fail to clear up the sinus infection, but I also had acute bronchitis. An examination, chest x-ray, breathing treatment, and a few tears later, I was headed home.

On my way home I tried to do the “good Christian” thing and talk myself off of the emotional ledge I was about to jump off of head first into an ocean of hysterical, ‘I AM SICK OF BEING SICK, GOD!’ tears, with snot running down my face, screaming at the top of my lungs. Instead, I told myself, ‘Well Lisa, it’s not breast cancer. This too shall pass.” As I waited at CVS for my prescriptions to be filled two scriptures came to my mind: Psalm 96:9 (NIV) “Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness…” and John 4:24 (NIV) “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” As those words filled my mind my heart sank thinking I had disappointed God with my response to yet another illness. Since January I have had an upper respiratory infection, bronchitis, a sinus infection, and several colds. On top of trying regain my energy, appetite, and strength from all of the cancer treatments last year.

When I got home despite my best efforts not to all I could do is cry. My sisters came over for a visit, which was a welcomed interruption to what I’m sure would’ve turned into a ticket-selling worthy pity party. After they left, I took the pharmacy of medicine I take at night, unable to articulate how I felt I just cried until I fell asleep. I woke some time during the night only able to say, ‘Jesus, I just don’t want to be sick anymore. I’m so tired now.’

As I lay in bed looking at the ceiling, still feeling really frustrated and upset, without warning peace and calmness flooded my soul. I again thought of Psalm 96:9 and John 4:24. Admitting to Jesus verbally, out loud, how I felt, I was worshipping Him in Spirit and in truth. I wasn’t pretending. I was worshipping Him as Savior by being honest and knowing He would love me anyway. I was worshipping Him as Healer knowing He has the ability to heal me. I was worshipping His as Lord knowing as tired as I am His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). The words I could not speak He heard and fully understood through my tears and silence. It was His all-consuming Presence that pierced through the darkness of my soul, my emotions and ushered me into worship with the words: ‘Jesus, I just don’t want to be sick anymore. I’m so tired now.’

When I woke up Tuesday morning I was still sick of being sick. I still didn’t feel well, but in the midst of all of my crabby, sick, funky mood, ugliness, I was able to get lost in the splendor of Jesus and His holiness. I realized He’s not expecting me to be a perfect ray of sunshine all the time. Sometimes it is RAINING and it is raining HARD! All He’s asking me to do is try to look toward the Rainbow and when I see it sing about it! Shout about it! Dance about! WORSHIP… in Spirit and in TRUTH… in the splendor of HIS holiness… not my own.

For today, I have a lot to sing, shout, dance, and WORSHIP about…despite how I feel!

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: Unconditional…

I woke up this morning thinking about something Chris Rock said during his Netflix comedy special, “Tamborine.” He said, “Only women, children, and dogs are loved unconditionally. A man is only loved under the condition that he provide something.” Now, I am not that person who finds some “deep” meaning in everything or can’t take a joke for what it is, laugh hysterically, and move on. In fact, I can generally find humor in most things. Thank God, I have spent more time laughing than crying throughout my breast cancer journey. But, I am a person who often sees beneath the skin to the heart of a matter and hears between the words or often the silence, the unspoken things. Chris Rock’s statement, spoken in jest and truth, was one such occasion.

As I pondered his words this morning, I immediately thought of my relationship with Jesus. He, unlike anyone I, and possibly, Chris Rock, have ever known loves unconditionally regardless of gender or what you are able to provide. I thought of how all I have ever been able to give to Him is all of my mess and He not only loves me the same, but by some miraculous exchange He takes my mess and gives me His beauty in its place. Simply amazing…

I believe we all at times, men and women, tend to love people based upon what they can provide for us. Be it financially, emotionally, physically…wherever there is a void the person we “love” can fill or provide whatever piece of ourselves we deem to be “missing.” After surviving two failed marriages that left me devastated and broken in ways that I am still discovering, I struggle to not laugh out loud when I hear people say things like, “He (she) is the center of my world” or the famous “He (she) completes me.”

In the heat of battle, during the hardest part of my cancer fight, was the loneliest time of my life thus far. I was surrounded by people who loved me, but still longed for that one person that was mine and I was his. The one that I knew no matter how things turned out, no matter what my body looked like on the other side of all of this, he would still be mine, I would be his and he would love me the same until death do us part.

This morning when Chris Rock’s statement came to my mind it made me examine my own heart. I have painfully discovered if your spouse/significant other is the center of your world, your world is subject to collapse. Your center, your core has to be strong enough to handle the weight of your life. It’s unfair to expect a person to handle all of your stuff. If you can’t and you know your mess intimately, how can they? My center is Jesus. No person can “complete” you. They can and should complement who you are as a person, but you are complete in the One for whom you were created (again, Jesus).

When I am found by the man that is willing to ride out this life with me until we are parted by death, I want to be able to love him from a place of wholeness in every way. Only then will I be able to love Him with the unconditional, agape love with which Jesus love me. That is the only love that lasts until death and beyond.

For today, I’m looking forward to seeing the exquisite, jaw-dropping masterpiece Jesus creates out of all the fragmented pieces of my life that look like a bunch of disjointed, misplaced, puzzle pieces to me right now.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬