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

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: Purpose-Filled Pain

Early on in my breast cancer journey I shared with my friend and fellow breast cancer survivor, Tonya, that I had a dull ache in my heart that just would not go away. Tonya, who by the way is an absolute sweetheart, assured me the pain would eventually go away. As of today, despite my best efforts to pray it away and the tremendous amount of peace I now have, the dull ache in my heart remains. Some days I feel it more than others, but most days it is the underlying feeling beneath my heartbeat. Recently, the Lord brought back to my mind what He told me several years ago about pain.

I was still recovering from the stroke, doing all of the necessary therapies, when Jesus gave me a wonderful acronym for the word pain; Perspective Alignment Insight Navigation. At the time the pain I was experiencing was more mental and emotional, than it was physical. But, pain is pain. He explained the acronym to me by saying, “When you experience pain you must first consciously and willing examine your Perspective. You must see your pain through My eyes, knowing I am a good, loving, kind, and merciful God. Seeing your pain as anything other than something I have permitted in order to help you look more like Me and build your testimony of My miraculous works, will only lead to an endless cycle of more pain and despair. You are Mine and I love you. So, you must know I would only permit your pain out of necessity. Once you have a clear perspective you must Align yourself with My Word on the matter. Then you must ask Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance that you may have His Insight regarding your issue. Finally, you must trust Me to help you Navigate through your pain. For only I know the way you must go. I have gone ahead of you. I assure you there is an expected end for ALL pain suffered in your life.”

Perspective: It has taken me awhile, but as I mentioned in a previous blog post, my perspective regarding the cancer, chemo, and radiation has radically changed. I did what Jesus said and upon examination I knew my perspective had to change. I do know He loves me. What the devil meant for evil, I know Jesus will most assuredly turn around for good (Genesis 50:20). 

Alignment: To date, I have not prayed once about the cancer or the treatment for it. I have poured out my heart to Jesus about how I feel and about my desire to be an extension of Him throughout the process. Never have I prayed for healing and, although I hoped I wouldn’t have to do chemotherapy, I didn’t pray about that either. Not praying about something so significant is extremely unusual for me. I pray about everything. Without realizing it, I aligned myself with God’s Word on the issue, before my journey began. In December, about a week before the biopsy, Jesus told me this affliction was not unto death (John 11:4). Though He did not say the affliction would be cancer, He did say He had already carried it to the cross. It was His load to carry, not mine. I believed His words and have been standing on His promise ever since. He shared with me the most important detail in advance. I am not going to die, which to me meant I would ultimately be healed. How the healing took place didn’t matter.

Insight: It seems Holy Spirit illuminates His insight to me daily. He reminds me that healing is a process and the dull ache in my heart is the residue of A LOT of painful things happening in succession, but assures me it will go away in time. He showed me that peace and pain, laughter and tears, joy and sorrow, can and often do coexist. He helps me to see more clearly, as He sees, and make “ordinary” moments extraordinary no matter how I feel inside.

Navigation: Years ago, I bought a book by Stormie Omartian called, “Just Enough Light for the Step I Am On.” I ended up sending the book to someone, without reading it. I think of the title often. Daily, Jesus reminds me that I only have to take one step, one breath, one moment, one day at a time. I know He is the Leader on this journey. I need only follow. Eventually, I will arrive precisely where He wants me to be physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and geographically, at the exact moment He has predetermined I will be there.

I can’t say that everyday I have been able to stick to the instructions outlined in the acronym Jesus taught me. So far, there have been many days that I just want to hurt in peace, with my headphones on, not thinking about or dealing with anything. In my spirit, I just stop walking and sit down. I am so glad Jesus always waits for me to get my second wind and never leaves me behind. For today, my strength lies in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV). Paul, speaking of a thorn in his flesh, says, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” I hear you, Paul!