Philippians 4:4-9 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Rejoice in the Lord always. This verse is easy to follow when we receive good news or unexpected blessings to share. But rejoicing in our times of trial or challenge is difficult. Can I challenge you today to follow the steps outlined in these verses and rejoice with us?
What do we have to rejoice in? The Lord has saved me and the Lord is with me. He has given me the strength and help I need the last 4 years of this cancer battle, and He will continue to provide as we press on. I know that I could not have gotten through this in my own strength; “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) I am so thankful that when I bring my worries and cares to the Lord in prayer, I receive His peace that passes all understanding. He’s got this! His plans are often not what we expect or even want in the moment, but His plans are ultimately better. He holds me in His hand. He is working all these things together for good. I can rejoice in Him and know that He is working out His perfect plan; “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
I pray that each of you will have the peace of God that we have received and that it will guard your hearts and minds from slipping to things we should not be thinking on. Philippians 4:8 gives us a great list of the types of things we should think on: whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. I pray you can keep your eyes focused on the Lord and think on these things!
Are you ready for our unexpected results now? We did meet with my oncologist yesterday and received the results of my pathology report and the results of my CT Scan I had last week. My surgery removed the tumor in my right lymph gland, the surrounding muscle and tissue and nearby lymph nodes. We were hopeful that all the cancer was contained in the tumor, but the pathology examination shows otherwise. The cancer is peppered throughout the surrounding tissue, muscle and lymphovascular spaces. At least one of the lymph nodes removed tested positive for cancer as well. There were also no clear margins, meaning the cancer cells continue beyond the edge of what was removed. The mass removed from my abdomen showed the same results, with cancer cells in the surrounding tissue and lymphovascular spaces and no clear margins.
I have shared before that much of my cancer areas we can feel in and just under the skin do not show up on the scans we do. The tumor in my right lymph gland appears on the scan, but anything that is peppered throughout my skin and tissue does not show up. So we were unaware that there was any cancer beyond the lumps and bumps we could feel. It was good to do the surgery and now we are aware of what we are up against. While my current chemo treatment was working and shrinking what we could feel, it was not being effective against what we could not feel or see. The scan last week also shows some new spots on my back, just below my left shoulder blade. That is not a spot I regularly check for bumps, since all of my cancer has been in the chest area so far. The thing about having breast cancer that has matastesized to the skin is that the skin is a very large organ and you obviously cannot remove all of your skin. 😉
My oncologist is optimistic. He says even though these results are not what we were expecting or wanting, it’s not as bad as it sounds. The cancer has not matastesized to any other vital organs. Things are not as bad as they were two years ago around the time I delivered Asher. From the medical team’s perspective, things looked pretty dire then. But we know God’s hand was at work and He allowed my treatment to fight back the cancer for a brief remission then! Remission is still possible now. With God all things are possible!
Once again we are looking at possible new action plans. My chemotherapy oncologist has a different chemo he would reccomend. I have an appointment with my radiation oncologist on Friday, and I will see my surgeon again on Monday. We are so thankful for the many treatment options we have available to us. Will you pray with us again for wisdom and clear direction as we seek what the next step is on this cancer journey? Will you pray we continue to look to our gracious Lord in our times of need and point others to the hope we have in Him? We want to allow Him to work in us and through us to bring about His perfect will.
I often hear the comment, “You have been through so much and you still have a smile on your face.” I know this is only because of God’s amazing grace. God orchestrated a precious gift for me yesterday as we were still wrapping our heads around these unexpected results. Last night just before going to bed, Adam, out of the blue came and said, “Mom, I want to play my song for you.” He proceeded to the piano and played It Is Well With My Soul. If you haven’t heard the overwhelming circumstances Spafford was facing as he wrote this song, take a moment to watch and listen to it here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=T8_EfDqF7YI. What amazing grace God gives us, so in the midst of adverse circumstances we can have hope and joy in Him and say, “It is well with my soul.”