Friday, August 5, 2011

Update -August 5th, 2011

I greet you with warm wishes for a summer filled with beautiful experiences.

I know that I will see some of you in the next week or two but I wanted to send this news at the same time to everyone who has been invested in my health through prayer and intercession.

I have been in Flagstaff since July 12 but returning to Tulsa once a week for surgical check-ups and future treatment appointments. In a few of these appointments with the Oncologist, some real reasons to celebrate came forth. First of all, the two lymph nodes they removed were completely clear of cancer cells (dead or alive). The second primary miracle is that the blood vessels in the breast were all examined under a microscope to see if the cancer had invaded my blood stream. Negative, all blood vessels were normal and had not been breached. Third miracle is that they were able to remove the tumor AND get clear margins all the way around. These margins were not just a few cells, the clear margins on every side measured in the centimeters.

Although we always celebrate the victories, I'd like to show you why clear lymph nodes, clear blood vessels and clear margins are an even bigger sign of God's had at work. Originally the mass was considered 1.5 cm, then after the MRI we were told that there were two additional small spots that had not been biopsied but looked cancerous. That made this mass measure around 2.5 cm. We were told that the three spots were not connected, although close, so it was now considered multi-focal, making a lumpectomy out of the question. If they go in and remove each location getting clear margins, you are left with a swiss cheese looking breast.

So, that information, combined with rarity of my age and awaiting the results of the BRACA1-2 gene mutation test, made removing both breasts the only option. If I were to have only removed the right side and the gene mutation came back positive, I would have to go back into surgery to remove the left. The other concern was the constant MRI's and biopsies I'd have to do on the left for the rest of my life.

Although I still do not have the results of the gene mutation test, I am praying that it comes back negative. If it is positive, I must immediately have a hysterectomy due to the risk of developing ovarian cancer, which is another strong risk with this gene. No one in my family history has had breast cancer, so it would be really surprising to be found positive for the gene. If I am, then all of my children (including boys) must be tested. I'm believing that door will not be open. I don't have the grace to handle it yet but I am sure that if it were to be present, I WILL be attended by the ALL consuming GRACE that has risen up to meet me at every turn so far.

Back to the tumor pathology and the main reason for this email:

Going into the surgery, we were all picturing the 2.5 cm cancer as the size of a dime (which is very close). But after all the internal breast tissue was excised and examined under a microscope, the final measurements were 6.5 centimeters, which is the size of a tennis ball. It is quite shocking to hold a dime up as a picture of what was in your body and then hold up a tennis ball and hear the words, "This is what you were up against."

At first I was physically ill at the news of the difference and yet exuberant at the pathology stating it wasn't found anywhere else. My mind felt like a stone that had lost its foothold on a high place and skipped and rolled down through these questions: How could it have been that big and the MRI didn't see all of it? How could it be considered early and still that big?

My mind and my stomach dropped until my mind found a solid resting place upon the answer to this question: How could the tumor have been that big and yet not one blood vessel, not one lymph node, not one skin cell have been touched????

JESUS is the answer.

God must receive the glory for His touch on my body. His care for me is evident without a doubt. Just as this could have spread physically and made the battle against fear much more violent, so does the tumors encapsulation by the Hand of God, build my faith. The very definition of the cancer they removed from my body included the word, "invasive"- meaning it had gained the ability to invade other kinds of cells. So I speak back to that invasive usurper and say, "You telling me you had the ability to invade blood vessels and lymph nodes but you didn't have the POWER??

Wow! How impotent he is, conniving the access and ability but STILL he has NO POWER!! When the enemy would love to attach a curse to the words spoken over our lives, like "cancer", we may temporarily feel surrounded on all sides by him. But I can tell you for sure, when you hear the sound of your enemy's trumpet blow, "CANCERRRRRR!!!!!!" and feel surrounded on all sides, it is only a matter of moments before your enemy is surrounded by an ALL-TOGETHER, GREATER ARMY- THE POWER OF GOD. The enemy blew his trumpet and I felt the echo of fear. I have seen his sneaky ways of gaining entrance into our lives and I am slamming every door, emotional, spiritual, physical. But the great revelation that has come to me through my frontline perspective of this battle, is this: the enemy can gain access to us and even adapt abilities against us, but he cannot gain authority and power! All authority in heaven and earth have already been given to Jesus. And we, who are joint heirs with HIm have this same blood bought authority over everything in heaven and earth. The enemy is unlawful in his ways and he will seek to usurp any authority we have abdicated due to ignorance or neglect. The cells in my body that gained the ability to invade never got the power to use their ability against me. Thank you Jesus for protecting my innocence and defending my ignorance!!!!

Although this battle involves the word "Cancer" and "invasive," I know that this battle is not about me losing a battle with my life. God has taken me to the front lines to learn all the more of how the enemy belies the people of God. The mass removed from my body was contained, so I believe that this season of my life devoted to fighting this particular enemy will be contained. I will never go back to eating unhealthy cancer foods again but I do believe that as I enter the next year, cancer will never have the access or ability to invade my life again.

There are two things I have always said would be my worst nightmare: 1. Getting pregnant before my wedding (already happened and catapulted me into a pattern of supernatural living.) 2. Chemotherapy. I don't know why we say certain things would be our worst nightmare, but I have. And I faced the first one and came out the other side better than before.

My personal failure and how I became taught of the Lord as a response, is the single most defining season of my life thus far.

2. Chemotherapy has always had a terribly negative effect on my mind. I used to say, I'd rather die. I've since asked the Lord to forgive me for saying that. As you probably know, I have been very resistant to the idea of putting a poison into my body. In fact, I committed to change every part of my life and have started with health. I drink a homemade smoothie every morning that contains every cancer fighting whole food ingredient I could find in research. Ironically its wonderful!! Green as the hills in Flagstaff, but tastes great!! When I went for my check up with my Naturopathic Dr. last week and he studied my drink ingredients, he was amazed. He said I had all (except one) of the most aggressive cancer fighting agents God has given us, already in my drink. (I spent two weeks researching on my own) Now I've added the one I missed.

But last week, due to the size of the tumor removed, they strongly recommended that I undergo a low dose round of Chemotherapy. The oncologist states that this will statistically reduce my chance of recurrence by 70%. Because I have had all the internal breast tissue removed from my body, I only have a 2% chance of breast cancer returning to the breast region but the chances are much higher for it to find another place in my body to set up shop. I sat in the meeting last week as stubborn as I've ever been. Through my tears I tried to process the pressure I was feeling. I had an agreement with my parent's and my husband that I would not undergo any treatment without a word from God. At every step of the process, He has never forsaken me in giving it. But last week, the oncologist spent a long while answering my questions and talking about chemotherapy as a "cure" and I just wasn't hearing it.
After the Doctor left the room and my cousin Andria and longtime friend and pastor Sandy Scheer sat with me and the nurse, the Word came.

The nurse began by saying, "Amie, all of us here are spirit filled Christians. And we see many, many Christians who are resistant to Chemotherapy come through those doors and leave without it. There have been more pastors wives than I can tell you, who would not undergo Chemotherapy because they thought it meant they were not trusting God. And they die. The Christians die because of their lack of understanding. And Amie, it's so sad because they had very, very treatable cancers but they refused treatment because they thought it would disappoint the faith of their congregations. Now there are so many Christians in those church's doubting God because they died. Dr. Oral Roberts taught that all wisdom comes from God and all medicines come from him, this was his dream. (at that my ears perked up) He prayed for me and the whole staff at City of Faith," she said. "He said that the Lord showed him that faith and medicine are supposed to interlock, (she interlaced her fingers as a demonstration) but most spirit filled Christians fight medicine, they do not see it as the provision of God that it is. Medicine is not perfect, but it could become even better, more effective, if Christians didn't reject it."

Dr. Oral Roberts was like a grandfather to me. And I was sitting in a room that God had given him the vision to establish. It hadn't all gone the way he pictured, but my nurse, like many others were prayed for personally and sent on a mission to educate and treat God's people so that they would not perish. With all the statistics and cure rates the oncologist had given me, the Word from God that brought peace to me, came through a nurse who carried the heart for healing. Everything good comes from God. And Amie living to be 86 is good. Whatever God sends me to deliver my miracle of complete healing and restoration must be considered. Most people don't realize how lethal cancer can be because they don't feel it or see it like they would an open wound or even a sore throat for that matter.

So when you don't have discomfort with cancer, it becomes easy to dismiss. How many Christians would live through a car accident but leave the scene mangled with life threatening injuries and tell the ambulance attendants, "I am going home to pray and eat organic foods"???? No one would. Any yet, even I had seen disease as something that should only be approached with prayer and fasting and resisted medical intervention.

I knew the potential danger but also hoped that I might turn it all around using surgery and natural methods. And although it is my firm belief that the right plants and foods heal us, it takes a while to change the internal tide. Other than the recent surgery, I am in great health. I have only just been released to exercise but my dietary changes since June 2nd have already caused me to lose 18 pounds. And any extra fat raises the chances for cancer in the body. I have a few extra pounds to go but no doubt that my life has permanently changed. I can't wait to tell you in all the ways "how." Did you know that exercising 2 1/2 hrs per week lowers your risk of cancer by 80%!!! Anyway, back to the conclusion....

I took 24 hrs to pray and let the peace of God direct my path before I verbalized my decision regarding Chemotherapy. These are the truths God has given me throughout this season:

1. If I am going to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, then I'm gonna turn on the lights while I'm there! (I can do this in many ways by opening my life, showing the journey and the hand of God at every turn. If there are fears to uncover, consider it done. Death is not the problem, it is the shadow of death where the enemy has his fun with us. I plan to do so much damage to his fear campaign that he is gonna wish he had an alternate route for God's people. I just want to turn his haunted house into a joke.)
2. I am led by peace, not driven by fear.
3. I cannot compare myself to any other case. Each of us must have a word from God for ourselves. Every journey, every battle is different.
4. I want to get out and give out everything I can during this season. I do not want to re-visit something later that the grace is here to face today.
5. Fear will not make any decisions for me. I will face my deepest fears and I will walk out of the season better in every way.
6. I will not focus on my loses or physical scars. My focus is stayed on the promise that He makes ALL things new.
7. Whatever I face from this day on holds no power of fear: You don't scare me.

In spite of my personal feelings and preferences, I am determined to do EVERYTHING to ensure I have closed every door. That includes natural remedies, healthy diet, exercise, counseling ( I need to off-load somewhere safe), rest, enjoy fun and friendships (accounted for 2% of my previous schedule) and submit to the peace of God in medicinal treatment.
With ALL this said, I will undergo 4 rounds of Chemotherapy (one treatment every 21 days x 4). The first one will begin on August 5 and the last one around October 7. This will be a low dose chemotherapy that will kill fast dividing cells. Unfortunately that usually includes hair. I know what all the potential side effects are but am believing for favor. I was bald headed until I was two years old, what's another couple months added to that!?

God is a debtor to no man or woman. So anything I feel I may have lost will be dually rewarded in either heavenly places or earthly realms, either way He is increasing my territory! He does not owe me anything. That's just the kind of God He truly is.

My central vulnerability in all of this is the potential for an onslaught of strong resistance or opinions against my decisions. This has already happened regarding my surgery. "People" didn't understand my decision to have both sides removed. I don't feel as though I have to justify myself but I would like to clarify everything through this email and probably ignore any further discussions. Although my left breast was completely clear of cancer cells I still feel I made the best decision for me. I don't expect to have the BRACA gene mutation but there is a chance. Lastly, I came into this world with a matching set and the Lord allowed me to continue with a matching set. I am still under construction but pleased with my decision. It is actually less dramatic psychologically to do both sides.

I humbly ask for your prayer, support and love. And above all, let it be known, this is not a tragedy, this is my light shining (possibly made a little brighter by the glare of a potentially bald head). God is my glory and the lifter of my head, doesn't differentiate between bald or hairy! What's hair but a few dead cells? I'd prefer God's glory any day!!!!

I am surely in a chrysalis of change. But I am not alone. I cannot nor will I ever be able to show you my gratitude for your outpouring of love toward me. Your love and commitment have put me back together again. I leave you with a quote from one of my messages at the Beloved Women's Conference, sent to me in a card last week.

"When we go through any situation, there may be a dark time and I declare to every spirit out there right now, 'Whatever God allows, I submit to it, we will make it through it and we will be the better for it!'"

7 comments:

  1. Praying! What a beautiful post...full of nuggets....

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  2. Very encouraging and inspiring.

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  3. Pastor Amie this is such an awesome powerful word. You are a woman after God's own Heart! Although I haven't physically had the experiences you're having I can relate my season of persecution I'm having to deal with on my job. Strength and courage is mine in Jesus Name! We love you and believe God with you!

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  4. Last night on CNN's Hero segment they spotlighted a precious woman who also battled cancer and had to decided to 'Pay It Forward', by sending gift cards and groceries to woman battling the disease.

    I was both moved and touched by her compassion; however, her last stament crushed my spirit. She ended the segment by saying, matter-of-factly, that she new that one day breast cancer would kill her and that she was doing all that she could until then. I wept, not because of all that she accomplished, but because she didn't know that she could be healed and made whole. She didn't realize that she doesn't have to 'own' the cancer.

    Then I thought of you, how valiant a warrior you are. I know that you will revolutionize women that they don't have to give in and give up. I know you will tell them there is a Balm in Gilead.

    I will not pretend to know why the Lord allowed this to happen to you, but I do know that you will take captive the enemy of our souls. I am honored to call you pastor.

    As a side note, I want to say thank you for being transparent. It is a gift to us all and one I am sure, comes with a cost. I only hope that readers understand that in the end, you, and your family must follow the path that God has designated for you. Whether we agree or not is of no consequence. You alone must walk through this place. It reminds me of when you were in Isreal in that deep cavern and you were screaming on the inside how you wanted out. You knew there were people in front on Stacy in back of you, but you couldn't do anything but go forward. You had to push through, you did it then, and you'll do it again!

    Pastor, you will emerge the victor. But not alone, and I know you wouldn't have it any other way, you will bring ladies, like the one on CNN with you. This giant you will conquer and see him no more!

    I leave you with this, in the women's conference you said that you knew that as a family you would go through somethings, but you wanted to through them well. I believe you have, and will!

    May God bless you and always hear you when you call! May He pamper you, and strenghten you. May your joy be complete. May ALL your questions and prayers be answered. May you increase in wisdom and understanding daily.

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  5. Praying for you Pastor Amie! You are a strong woman of Faith and I believe that everything will turn out for the good of those who love Christ Jesus! Sending love and hugs your way!

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  6. What an amazing woman of God you are. You energize me from within with your unshakable faith. May God grant you the power and grace to come forth albeit with battle scars but VICTORIOUS nonetheless!!

    I pray for you everyday and will not stop.

    God bless you Pastor,
    Dami

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