Prayer request please…and yes, these breasts are fake- my real ones tried to kill me!!

     Off to surgery again in the morning!  Please pray for there to be no infection in the process and that I won’t have the nausea and vomiting like I did last time!  This will be about a 3 hour surgery in which they will cut back open my scars and insert expanders with a small amount of saline under the muscle.  Then after I heal, I will go in every 2-3 weeks and get saline injected to stretch and regenerate the skin and muscles.  Once that is done over several months, they will go in again and take the expanders out and put the implants in.  I’m thankful to get this part of my journey started because it has been, surprisingly, a little tougher on my self esteem than I thought it would be not having a body part that helps define you as a woman in our culture…..

     There are a lot of women who don’t necessarily love (or even like) what they see when they look in the mirror.  I really have not liked what I’ve seen in the mirror this summer, but even before cancer caused me to lose body parts, I would have to admit that there was always something that I wasn’t crazy about when I looked in the mirror.  Unfortunately, I think sometimes even the most physically beautiful women are not in love with what they see in the mirror.  As women we tend to want what we can’t have!  If we have straight hair, we want it to be curly.  If we have red hair we want it to be black.  If we have brown hair we want it to be blond.  I have to say that we seem to disagree with God on whether or not He made the right choices in His design of us!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for “changing your look” every once in a while, and I believe you should work to be healthy– but it can be unhealthy when we don’t accept the image in the mirror as BEAUTIFUL.  So, try something that has been working for me – ask God this question – when you look in the mirror:  God, do you think I’m beautiful?  God wants you to ask Him because He loves to answer! Remember?  “The King is enthralled by your beauty.”  Psalm 45:11  Ask that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you would begin to believe in your heart that the King (God) is captivated by your beauty!!

     He created us for an eternal relationship with Him (John 3:16)

     He values us (Luke 7:28)

     He is for us (Romans 8:31)

     He is at work in us (Philippians 2:13)

     He wants us to be free (Galatians 5:1)

     He is aware of and responds to our needs (Isaiah 65:24)

Join me in working to believe and receive the TRUTH of God’s love for us and our God given beauty!  Let the truth of God’s love be louder than the recordings in our heads!  He really thinks we are beautiful!  All of us….inside and out…top to bottom….Yep, even for those of us totally flat or incredibly curvy….”Beautiful!”, He says!!  He’s grown me in the last three months in the area of humility, but also to allow me to understand that He has a much better eye for beauty than I do ;) 

Troy will be posting when I’m out and all is well!!  Thank you for your prayers and love – I feel it!!!  I know that God is with me and not ONE day has gone by that I haven’t thanked Him for saving me from chemotherapy, radiation, and so much more that I could have faced.

Blessings -

heidi

     

God’s favorite number is 7 and that’s what my test score was…..

Amazing and great news….my Onco test score was a 7!  That is in the “Low Risk” category that we were praying for, which tells the oncologist and myself that doing chemotherapy would not decrease my chances of any cancer ever coming back, so I won’t be having to do any!!!  It also puts me in a less than 10% chance of having any recurrence, which in the cancer world is considered a very good number.  I honestly feel like a huge weight has been lifted in regard to my health and I’m feeling so joyful that I serve such a Big God.  I’m so thankful for this news…thankful to all of you who took the time to pray for me and ask God for this miracle.  Thankful to God for having mercy on me …..which brings me to another emotion, besides gratitude, that I am feeling……humility  and yes, maybe somewhat unworthy….

You see, I know many people who have lost love ones who prayed and asked God for a miracle, asked God to heal, asked God for an easier road….and for reasons that only God knows, it didn’t happen.  I don’t know why God didn’t stop the Oklahoma tornadoes.  I don’t know why God doesn’t stop children from being hurt.  I don’t know why some people survive cancer and some don’t.  I don’t know why the answers to mine and my prayer warriors first 3 requests about my cancer were…NO, NO, NO and why the last 3 requests were YES, YES, YES….we can speculate on everything from “how” we prayed, “how many” prayed, “how God can be glorified in it”, or “how it grew me”…..we won’t know and we can’t know why sometimes God restores our health and sometimes He doesn’t.  There are 2 things I think we do know for sure:  The first is that we can trust God.  I am His favorite.  You are His favorite. He will always have our best (eternal) interest in mind.  The second is that when God does answer our prayers in exactly the way we prayed He would, HE wants and deserves ALL the glory!!!  I believe He gets that glory when we celebrate the answered prayer in HIS name, but also – I believe He gets that glory from the enemy when the answered prayer grows each of us and our belief that God loves and cares for us.  It makes God so very real when you are literally helpless to determine the outcome of a test, you pray and ask Him for a certain outcome, and you get the results that you prayed for.   I hope that those of you who prayed for me will not only give God the glory for this answered prayer by telling others what He did, but by showing the enemy how much more you trust God in every area of your life.  Prayer doesn’t just change CIRCUMSTANCES, more importantly, it is meant to change US!!  I hope that this praise report on how God answered our prayers will change each of us in some small way, and that God can use that change for good.  God is not a genie, but we can trust Him to always have our best (eternal) interest at the forefront of His heart.

For those of us who have asked big things of God and gotten the answers we asked for, I believe that there is a big responsibility to grow our character and to use the changes in us spiritually to affect those around us.  The Bible says that to those to whom much is given, more is expected.  It also says that those who are forgiven of a LOT, are more grateful than those forgiven of a “little”.  My heart is overflowing with gratitude and humility (which was part of the verse many of you were praying for me)…..I want to do more because I was given much.  I want to pray more urgently about things that aren’t urgent yet.  I want to do more ministry to thank God for this answered prayer.  Next time you talk to God, please thank Him for me because right now I just can’t thank Him enough…..

I will keep you posted on the journey thru the reconstruction process, the surgeries, and hopefully more of what God wants to show me .  Please pray for wisdom in choosing a surgeon and for the process to go well.

love you – heidi

Praising God for my test results!!

    Over the weekend, I was praying and talking to God about these test results that will determine whether or not I will need to do chemotherapy as adjuvant treatment for my breast cancer.  I always try to start my prayers out with thanksgiving and praise to God…then move to MY requests of God.  As I was moving from praise and thankfulness into something like, “…and Father, I pray that the tests will come back Low Risk”….God spoke to my heart.  He “said” – ‘Why don’t you praise me for the results now, knowing that I know what you need?’ And so I did and so I am!  That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t know my heart (that I want the shorter and healthier way)  or that I stopped asking in full faith for Low Risk results – but I started praising him for the “results” and for His loving care for me in this situation.  So no….I don’t actually have the test results back yet that we are praying for, but I am still praising God for my test results!

     I’m also praying for another set of “results”.  I’m convinced that the people God uses the most are often the people who have experienced the most adversity.  This isn’t really what we like to hear, but it is true.  I remember back in 1996 when I attended the very first Women of Faith conference in OKC.  I had been a Christian since I was in the 1st grade, but I had recently started to realize how God wanted to use me in ministry.  As I began to listen to the speakers and buy their books on the breaks, I thought to myself, “This is what I want to be able to do, God….to be used by you to teach and inspire thousands of women.  I want to be used like that.”  That was early on the first day of the conference.  By the end of Saturday, I had heard each speaker share about major adversities, trials, and storms in their lives that they had gone through.  Some of them had lost their children to disease or in wars.  Many of them had endured suffering through debilitating diseases, and some were cancer survivors.  Many came from wounded childhoods, but had overcome their past. One of them was in her 50′s and single and knew that God’s plan for her was that she would never marry or have children.  All of them were battle wounded from adversities in their lives…..and this is what made them so effective for God.  They had turned their adversity into a ministry….and they had a huge platform only because of the adversity that God had brought them through. They had gotten huge “results” for God.   If you don’t turn your adversity into a ministry, then your pain remains your pain.  But if you allow God to translate your adversity into a ministry, then your pain becomes someone else’s gain.  At the end of that conference, I still remember standing there in 1996 and thinking, ‘Lord, if that is what it takes to be able to be used by you in such a large way, I don’t know if I have what it takes.  I don’t know if I could go through some of those things.”  The Lord has brought me through many storms in my life and He will bring me through many more.  I think the more storms I get through, the more potential I have to help people and relate to people.  Trials have a way of helping us refocus and rediscover our purpose in life here on this earth….to use what we’ve got and what we know to love and serve others. This is how we get really great “results” for God.   Here’s the good news!  If you don’t have any problems, you don’t have any potential!!  So all of us with lots of wounds and problems are at the top of God’s “usable” list!!

  God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

                                                        2 Corinthians 1:4

   Praising God for my test “results” for He knows what I need….He knows what I need to be able to use this to comfort someone else when they go through it….. He knows what and how this will glorify Him and I pray He shows me how to turn my adversity into a ministry and get God sized results. 

PS..I will let you know when I really find out the results!!  Keep asking God for “low risk” and praising Him now for the “results” !!

love to you for reading this -

heidi           

Latest prayer request for me and my family on our journey….

    Hi Friends!  As I once again come to “mobilize” my prayer unit (lol), I am overwhelmed with the number of considerate and loving people in my family’s lives.  I’m so thankful for your love and concern…..I know it is often frustrating when someone you care about is going thru a storm and you feel helpless to serve or “fix” anything for them.  I want each of you who have prayed, ministered, brought food, taken me to Dr. visits, watched Jace, cleaned my house, etc….YOU are definitely all making my journey easier and showing me God is in it with me with tangible evidence!  I also want to say that I value your continuous prayers more than any act of service that you could offer.  I highly regard the power of united prayer, which is why I’m asking for this specific prayer request.  

      I saw the Oncologist last Thursday, and it was a divine appointment.  Dr. Aleda Toma is amazing….probably the best Dr. appointment I’ve had in my life.  So informative, so personal, but yet very real.  I was 100% pleased with her and I thank God for wisdom and direction from many of you and in my research to lead me to her.  Because I did the double mastectomy, and because God answered our prayers about the tumor not being too close to the muscle, I do not have to do radiation.  This was very important to me, as I feel strongly that radiation CAUSES cancer.  Praise God and thank you for your attentive prayers!  Next, she addressed my treatment…..I have several things going for me – my cancer is estrogen and progesterone positive – this means that it is fueled by these hormones, therefore, they can give me medication that can stop the hormones in my body from fueling it.  It is also “HER 2″ negative – too complicated to explain here, just know that it is a plus in the puzzle. Also, huge positive was that the lymph nodes were clean – huge plus and thank you for your prayers for that.  Now for a few negatives… the cancer is Stage 2a instead of Stage 1…mostly because it was moderately differentiated (cells were moderately different than normal) , and tumor was 2.2cm once they got in there.  Because of these two negatives, I have to wait on further testing of the cancer to see what is recommended.  The tests that they sent it off for are called ONCO type testing.  It is a genomic test that analyzes 21 genes involved in determining the risk of recurrence of the cancer. It is only done for people who are good candidates like me – who are kind of “on the bubble” of whether or not chemotherapy is necessary and can decrease odds the cancer will ever come back.  

      SO – here’s where you can REALLY help us!  If the test comes back “Low Risk”, I will not have to do any chemotherapy and I can then start reconstruction.  If it comes back “High Risk”, then Dr. Toma will recommend I do 3 months of chemotherapy and yes, it will be the kind everyone gets ;)  If it comes back “Intermediate Risk”, that is when she said they will put the ball in my court and let me decide.  They don’t have good studies to show “yes” or “no” on how much added benefit chemotherapy is for this group.  I am asking for prayers that the results will be “Low Risk” !!  Please pray single minded in full belief that this is going to happen!!!  Please visualize the lab, the petri dish,  and chemists finding out that it is Low Risk!  I will know the answer in about 7 days….so next Monday or Tuesday.  Please also pray for God to continue to use me and my family to glorify HIM in new ways because of this opportunity!  Please thank HIM for my recovery and journey so far and when people mention my name – please say “GOD has been amazing to her throughout this!”  and glorify Him and not me.  Tell people all the things you see GOD doing in it ;)  

     Also, if you don’t get on Facebook a lot but would like to get an email when I post something new, you can click on “follow” and it will email you.  My prayer is that this will help you know how much I appreciate you and need your thoughts and prayers-  by keeping you updated, since I’m not able to answer as many texts and emails as I need to.  Please share them where you think God will be glorified or if someone is going thru anything similar.  LOVE YOU ALL!!  

Enjoy the journey, build others up;)

heidi

Facts you need to know about breast cancer and how I asserted my path thru them…

    If you are a woman or if you know a woman…..you may want to read this….

     First of all, as a woman, do you know the answer to this question – Do I have “dense” breast tissue?  You probably WOULDN’T necessarily know this unless you have a great OB/GYN who communicated this to you,  or if you had an ultrasound person comment to you about it, OR you read the last couple of sentences on your mammogram and think it matters.  Well….it matters….a lot!  If you have DENSE breast tissue, this means that there will probably be things that are in your dense breast tissue that do not show up on the mammogram (this is what the last sentence on your mammogram report will say) ….nodules, cysts, and yes – tumors that could be cancer may or may not show up on a mammogram if you have dense tissue.   If you have “dense breast tissue” you really should ask for an ultrasound every time you get a mammogram.  If you aren’t sure if your insurance pays for that, CHECK before you go!  Most of them will….in fact, there are several states in which it is a STATE LAW that if you have dense breast tissue, they MUST offer you an ultrasound and insurance MUST pay for it.  I have read story after story of women who’s mammogram came back “clean” the same month they discovered they had breast cancer.  Don’t get me wrong – mammograms are good and I’m not discouraging you from getting them. However, if you have dense breast tissue, you can’t really have peace of mind with them only.  

     Second…. You must do self examinations and take all lumps seriously and act QUICKLY.  This is what probably saved me from my cancer being in a much later stage.  I found my lump myself.  I then didn’t even want to waste time going in to see my OB/GYN because that would have been another week wasted.  I just called my OB, told them I found a lump, and needed an order for an emergency Mammogram with Ultrasound…..got it in one day, mammogram scheduled for exactly what day I wanted it the following week.  You also do NOT have to go to the imaging center that your OB/GYN wants to send you to….mine sent me to Deaconess first and that is where I had gone in the past, so I went.  However, after the MRI indicated I needed a second ultrasound and I got the first pathology report back that it was cancer, I changed my imaging place to somewhere that was more specialized in breast imaging (not just all imaging).

     Third…..I don’t know if you can tell yet or not, but this whole breast cancer, imaging, ultrasound, mammogram, MRI – thing is NOT an exact science.  I was given 3 different sizes of my tumor from the mammogram (1cm), the ultrasound (1.8 cm), the MRI (2.0cm) – and none of them were right.  The actual size was 2.2 cm when it was removed.  I also had some reports that said other things on the other breast were questionable, while other reports or other radiologist said, “no, that’s nothing”….AND since it is not an exact science, thus the removal of both of the boobs in question.  Problem solved!  So, do not just believe one source of report or information in the area of medicine…..it is tricky.

    Fourth…..ALWAYS get a second opinion on images, surgery, prognosis, etc.  Go see two Dr.’s in two days.  I had a surgery scheduled with a different surgeon for May 20th, knowing full well I was going to go see a different surgeon in a few days and might choose the latter and cancel that first scheduled surgery (which I did).  You have all the choices, and they work for you.  Who do you want to hire to save your life?  Who do you want to believe?  I saw two surgeons, went to two imaging centers with two different radiologist, and made all my own appointments in rapid succession.  When the surgeons said, “so we can operate on you in the next couple of weeks”….I said, “why would I want to wait for it to possibly spread?  I want it out tomorrow!”  and got the surgery scheduled within 3 work days after I met with the surgeon I chose.  

     AND finally…..Knowledge is power…do your own research, but take the emotions OUT.  You can bring on the anxiety and worry by what you read on the internet, OR you can learn the facts about Staging, Differentiation, Pathology, Reconstruction, Treatments, etc.  Then you will know MORE about what to expect and understand the lingo before you go.  If you can’t understand what you are reading, contact me or another health professional.  Your very best sites are those affiliated with National or International Breast Cancer Organizations.  They are facts and no hype.  One of the best resources I found was Your Guide to the Breast Cancer Pathology Report at breastcancer.org.   YOU are in control….not the dr.s, nurses, or insurance companies…..you are the one with a tumor in you that needs out asap, not the people on the other side of the desk telling you it won’t matter to wait a few weeks.  Be assertive and get what YOU need for your fast restoration!!!  And one more thing – YOU need to ask for a copy of every ultrasound, every mammogram, every MRI report, every pathology report.  They are your reports.  I actually caught the fact that I needed to go back for another ultrasound for the second spot on the right breast that ended up being ok….the dr. missed it until I asked for the report and read that the MRI report was recommending I go get more “suspicious” areas checked.  Health care professionals can make mistakes….they are human….but they also do not have as much at stake as you do, so do your own homework and be alert about what is on the reports!

…..hope this helps someone… or someone’s loved one someday or somewhere!!!  Living and learning as I go, but learning it for myself and not because someone else said so ;)

Blessings - 

heidi

Why Cancer? Why Me? Why Now?

     Wednesday, May 29th 

      These types of questions seem to be the first ones that your “flesh” wants to bring to your mind when you discover that you are about to go through a difficult circumstance, or at least these were some of the ones that I wrestled with the first 2 days….those of you who know me, know that I’m big on changing my thinking as soon as I know it is not TRUTH.  I started to pull out the TRUTH of God’s word to replace the lie that my flesh was trying to give me….. about how you are entitled to live in this place, (which is not heaven) without suffering and trials because you are a “good person”, are doing “good works”, or “don’t deserve” this.  But here is the truth….

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, WHENEVER you face trials of MANY kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2-4

” During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death….Although He was the Son of God, He learned obedience from what He suffered, and once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation…”   Hebrews 5:7-9

    I believe that God doesn’t CAUSE the trials of this earth that He is preparing us for in this verse, but He desperately wants to grow us IN them and use them for His Glory!!  I think He wants us to grow and be difference makers IN the storm as much as AFTER the storm, too.  As much as I hate to admit it, God is more interested in my Character than my Comfort. It is my Character in Christ that can inspire and influence many for Christ, NOT my Comfort.  Maybe we should stop asking God to get us OUT of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants us to GET OUT of those difficult circumstances!  I think that prayer is less about changing our circumstances than it is about changing our perspective. We also see from the Hebrews verse that even the Son of God endured suffering because of the sins of this world and it says it also perfected Him…..so if Christ had to suffer, who am I to think I am entitled not to suffer?! It just makes sense that I would allow God to use this… that my obedience and perseverance will move me toward Christ-likeness!!

     Even though I find myself having to “fix” my thinking from those selfish questions I started with back to the TRUTH over and over again, the positives in any trial can actually overwhelm you.  One thing I have “gotten” out of my circumstance is that I have been completely overwhelmed by the goodness and kindness of people in general in the last 10 days.  From the secretaries and people at Dr. offices, to the outpouring of my friends and family, and to the thousands of God’s creation giving selflessly to help others with the aftermath of the tornadoes – God is good and that GOODNESS is within us all when we step aside and let it power us!

     And now an update on what is going on with me!  I have been getting steadily stronger since Saturday when the nausea started to subside!  I faced down other issues yesterday that had to do with being on narcotics since Thursday (one TMI issue that involved Troy racing to the pharmacy for an enema to help me with severe constipation..lol..he’s so awesome;)  Other issues with sleep and anxiety that come with getting off the Lortab that are to be expected, but not fun…part of the journey!!  On Tuesday, I got the drains that I had on each side out, Blake got enrolled at OU with Troy, and Jace auditioned for the part of Young Tarzan in the Lyric production for this month and got the part!!!  Busy busy day and I was feeling it at the end, but so thankful to still be continuing through life despite the bumps ;)  I see it as me sticking my tongue out and laughing at Satan when I show him that he isn’t slowing down my family’s purposes and lives!  

     I have my first appointment with the Oncologist on Friday morning.  I chose (yes, I chose!) Dr. Aleda Toma as my oncologist based on great things I’ve heard and known of patients who have seen her.  I expect her to give me some general idea of what I might be looking at in regard to further treatment, but the final analysis will greatly depend on further testing of the cancer that was removed.  I should get all those tests back and make final treatment decisions in about 12 days.  That will be around June 10th, which is only about a month from the day that I got the news that I had Invasive Breast Cancer…..I’ve had LOTS of people comment on how fast everything has gone for me – and it is all because I was aggressive and pro-active myself!  More on that in another post!  In the days and weeks to come, please pray this prayer for me – my 2013 Opportunity Prayer:

  I pray that Heidi would humble herself under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift her up in due time.  I pray that Heidi would cast all her anxiety on you, God, because you care for her.  I pray that Heidi will be self-controlled and alert to the enemy, because he prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  I pray that Heidi would resist him, standing firm in the faith, because she knows that her brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same sufferings.  (And that she can now serve them ever better).  May you, the God of all grace….the God who called Heidi to your eternal glory in Christ, completely restore Heidi after she has suffered a little while.  We claim that you will restore her, make her strong, firm, and steadfast in her purposes.  To you, God, be the power for ever and ever, AMEN      1 Peter 5:6-11

My new platform…

Friday, May 24th

Whew!  I’m back among the living!!!  Surgery went great, but the nausea and vomiting were the main obstacles I’ve had to overcome since coming out on Tuesday evening.  I usually don’t have any trouble after a surgery with nausea, but since the surgery was so long, apparently it takes a few days to work out all the anesthesia.  We discovered that dry heaving every 2 hours for 36 hours makes it difficult to get off IV meds and onto oral meds so you can go home on time….we also discovered that Troy is awesome at holding a barf bag ;)  So, despite having to stay in the hospital one extra day, I’m home now and cancer free!!!  Found out from the pathology report that the lymph nodes were clean and the left breast was clean, too. Will meet with oncologist in about 2 weeks to discuss if I will need chemotherapy or radiation, so please pray that the odds are all in my favor to skip those!

We are praising God for this “yes” answer he gave us, knowing full well His mercy and grace are working in and through my situation….or what I like to think of as my “opportunity”.  I believe that “success” is making the most of every opportunity.  And while I do not believe that God gave me cancer or “caused” his favorite daughter (we are all His favorite!) to have to go through any pain at all, I believe that because we live in a fallen place, we are going to encounter “situations” that can become God-ordained opportunities.  If you think of every opportunity as God’s gift to you, then what you do with those opportunities is your gift back to God.  I’m convinced that some of our greatest regrets in life will be that we missed opportunities in the middle of the storms or after the storms of our life.  In addition to being good stewards of our time, talent, and gifts, we probably need to think about being good stewards of our opportunities, too!  This “opportunity” is already allowing me more time with God and my family, and it is blessing me beyond measure to see the outpouring of God’s love through my friends and family!

I’m discovering each day the blessings and opportunities for God to be glorified in this storm.  What if the breakthrough you really want and need is hiding right now in your biggest fears, your worst failure, your largest storm?  What if some of your greatest opportunities to glorify God are in your toughest “opportunity”?  That’s how it has turned out for me in my past storms….thats how it is turning out to be in this storm and I’m excited to make the most of it and rack up the score for my DADDY in Heaven!

Special thanks to all of you who have been sending meals and who sent beautiful flowers to me!  Thank you Dinah for the awesome blanket that Troy is enjoying ;)  Thank you Alainea for giving me a “hair-do” when Troy could only give me a “hair-don’t”.  Thanks to Robert and Tammy for your gifts and your visit.  Thanks to every single one of you that took my name to God’s throne and pleaded my case!  Please insert my name into 1 Peter 5:6-11 when you pray for me!  This is my “2-13 Opportunity Prayer” !!

love you,

heidi