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Breast Cancer

In April 2010, Stacy Davis found a lump in her right breast later to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. She wrote on a personal blog entitled "His Way, Not Mine" during her diagnosis, treatment, surgery and reconstruction. The blog posts have since been moved to Delighting in the Lord in the hopes of ministering to anyone walking through breast cancer. 

My Breast Cancer Story

Stacy Davis

In April 2010, I found a lump in my right breast. Something unexpected and yet always feared - cancer. I would quickly learn through scans and biopsies that I had stage 2B invasive breast cancer. Two tumors in my right breast, 2 lymph nodes involved and a DCIS cancer cluster 3mm from my breast bone. My treatment would entail a double mastectomy with reconstruction, 4 months of dose dense ACT chemo, 5.5 weeks of radiation and then reconstruction surgeries.

On my 16th wedding anniversary, my husband and I sat in my breast surgeon's office and learned of my diagnosis. Not quite the way you envision celebrating an anniversary. It was a hard, hard day clearly marked in my mind. But it was different than other trials I had gone through. My faith was stronger, more steadfast through years of refining and teaching. As the diagnosis came, my go to wasn't fear. Oh, it tried to penetrate. But I knew God would meet me on this road. I knew that no matter what laid ahead, He was there.  Instead, a deep sadness penetrated my soul. I knew this cancer diagnosis would touch the lives of many around me, not just me, in ways that would forever change us. At the time, we had 5 children under the age of 13.  I was homeschooling our children, construction had just been completed on an apartment attached to our house for my handicapped mother and my husband had just switched to a work at home sales job in orthopedics after working in product development for 14 years. I also had just stepped into coordinating the women's ministry at our church while teaching weekly women's Bible studies. To say that life was busy would be an understatement. What would this new life look like? Would I make it through to healing or would this cancer take my life? I was sad that my children and husband would see disease up close and personal. I was sad that my husband wouldn't have a "whole" wife. I was sad for me. What would life look like with cancer? What would this disease do to my physical body? Questions that bit by bit the Lord would answer in my heart as He tenderly and mercifully lead me and my family through diagnosis and treatment. As God orchestrated my days, ministered to me through His Word and brought many to help lighten my load. 

Despite all the ugliness that comes with cancer there also is a beauty. The beauty lies in the lessons learned, the compassion of others, the love that is displayed and the deep bond that suffering brings to relationships. As the Lord stripped many things away through cancer, He brought an increase of Himself into my life. For that, I rejoice in the suffering. Today, I also get the privilege of walking beside others who are asked to face this same reality - breast cancer. God tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that He is our comforter. That with the comfort that we receive as we go through suffering, we can then give that same comfort to others. I've had the joy of walking this out in the five years since my diagnosis. It's a baton that at first, I didn't want to pass but have seen the beauty and blessing in the passing. Because of cancer, I get invited into some of the sacred and personal places of other women's cancer journeys. I get to intimately walk beside them meeting them in their need and encouraging them as they travel the unknowns of surgery, chemo and radiation hopefully dispelling some of the fears as they go. It has been a blessing for me. 

Shortly after my diagnosis, I wrote on a blog entitled "His Way, Not Mine." It became my journal and outpouring of all that God was doing in me through breast cancer. So many people had questions and curiosities about my breast cancer. I used that space as a forum to not only show the physical details of cancer but share my heart. Cancer is just as much physical as it is emotional and for me, spiritual. I am a different person today because of cancer. A good different. The blog posts that follow are all taken from my blog during June 2010 through early 2011. Here is my breast cancer story. 

 

 

The School of Life - A New Chapter

Stacy Davis

(Previously published June 26, 2010)

"The school of life offers some difficult courses, 

but it is in the difficult class that one learns the most - 

especially when your teacher is the Lord Jesus Himself." 

(Corrie Ten Boom, Tramp For the Lord)

Many years ago (oh about 16 or so), as a college student at the University of Pittsburgh, I would have argued with this statement....that in the difficult class one learns the most...it was in the difficult classes that I struggled spending hours pouring over the facts and material being taught, trying so hard to make my brain grasp concepts that were foreign to me. Psychological statistics was one of those classes. It just didn't make sense to my English and Communication driven brain. Numbers and theories, patterns and probability....., but then again my teacher at the time wasn't the Lord Himself. It was a gentleman whose passion was all that mine wasn't and I had to work intensely to just get a C. I passed, but sighed a big sigh when that math requirement was long gone and a part of my past and I could gravitate toward the classes I enjoyed. Do I remember learning anything from that class....pretty much No! But I remember the feeling of desperation and frustration as I plowed through that class. Just praying the semester would be over soon and that class behind me. 

But the school of life is so much different, or is it? I think so much depends on who or what you put your faith and hope into. We all have faith in something. It can be either ourselves, others or the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1-3, 

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith, we understand that the whole worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible" 

By faith, Abel offered God an excellent sacrifice: the firstborn of his flock. Cain, his brother, approached God on his own terms and eventually turned his back on the Lord. And if you know the story, Cain killed Abel. By faith, Noah built an ark, "moved with Godly fear," and was obedient to God, thereby saving his family and all animals from the flood. By faith, Abraham believing God's promise that through his son would come many generations, offered his son Isaac upon the altar knowing that God would either save his son, or bring him back to life. And if you read Chapter 11 the list of those who believed in God through faith and were found righteous by their faith continues. But this came through a testing of their faith, difficult classes if you will, as they looked to the reward and believed God's promises to be true, not in walking by sight and what they knew in their head. I believe this with every fiber of my being. And it is this faith in God that is the premise of my education in the school of life. The love I have for God far exceeds the love I have for anything or anyone else. He never disappoints and His plans for me are good. It is for this reason, that I can now accept the difficult classes of life instead of trying to plow through them as quickly as possible and just get to the other side. 

I've tried the other routes early in life and through different trials and hardships....faith in me is futile. I don't have the strength or the wisdom to fight most battles. I went through much of my early life this way and became tired, weary and the joy was mustered and temporary and instead of learning, just questioned. And then faith in others.....Faith in others always disappointed me and motives were not always pure or trusted. 

At the age of 6, I put my faith in God. I prayed to receive Him into my heart. I believed in Him, confessed my sinful heart to Him, but I didn't choose to surrender fully my will to Him alone until the age of 23.....and then my first big difficult class began at the age of 24. My faith was being tried and tested, but from the loving hand of my heavenly Father. I was pregnant with our first son, Benjamin, and early in pregnancy had complications requiring many tests and specialist visits. No one could figure out what was going on. I felt great, but all my tests showed a very sick pregnant woman. Around 29 weeks pregnant, I developed HELPP Syndrome. At 30 weeks, was admitted to the hospital, and 4 days later as my kidneys and liver began shutting down, as my blood pressure soared and my blood platelets plummeted to a point where I should have been spontaneously bleeding from my nose and under my skin, Ben was delivered by c-section 10 weeks early at 2lbs 12 oz. And my faith was being tested. Do I believe God is good? Do I believe He loves me? Do I believe He loves my son? Do I believe there is a purpose for this difficult course? And whereas I was confused, sad, tired and weak. God's grace was sufficient and I began to learn about surrendering, submitting and relying on my Heavenly Father, not in words alone, but in actions and in my heart. My schooling was well underway. Today, Ben is 13, strong, healthy and loves the Lord. His life has purpose as do God's ways.

A lot can be filled in the blanks from age 23 to the present....financial hardship, marriage discord, broken relationships, death of a child, miscarriage....The school of life is like that. Classes that come and go. Classes I received "well done" from my heavenly Father and classes that have needed to be retaught but in a different manner. Because one thing that holds true is that God loves us so much, He wants us learning, understanding and gaining wisdom from each class. His love is that deep. The more we run through our trials just trying to get to the other side, the more He says....slow down....I have so much more for you to learn. Be still. Wait for me. Don't take control. Don't worry. This trial has passed before the throne and I have approved of it. I will equip you for the trial, if you let me. I will never leave you or forsake you. I will lead you and guide you. I will teach you. I love you with an everlasting love. 

This past year and a half, has been a year of preparation for my current class, as have many of the previous trails I have endured. You know how you have first "college prep" classes in high school and then your first year of college are all of your "prerequisites." Well it all gives a foundation for the higher level, more difficult classes. I think God operates much the same way. He takes us deeper into our faith and our reliance upon Him alone. 

In November 2008, on Thanksgiving Day, my mother (who in 1975 had a brain aneurysm leaving her a left-sided hemipalegic) was taking a walk in late-afternoon following dinner. She was struck from behind by a car and had another traumatic brain injury and her skull quickly filled with blood. In God's unique way, the blood filled her brain cavity where her frontal lobe had been removed years previously. Without this space, she would have needed immediate surgery due to the swelling and may have died. She spent 2 months in both hospital and then rehab hospital. She was transported to the Pennsylvania area (where I live) and upon discharge, moved into our guest room in January 2009. This is where she spent the last year as we waited for her house to sell in Virginia and for our garage to be converted into a full apartment. She moved into her new apartment in early January 2010. It has been a year of leaning heavily on the Lord for strength, patience, wisdom, provision, healing. A year where He has taught me much about being a servant....His servant. A year of trusting Him with my mother's life and how it is now defined differently with new limitations. It has been a year of faithfully watching God's hand on each detail and constantly in awe of His plans and faithfulness. It has been a hard year where some of the lessons weren't immediately grasped or learned. 

It has been a year of deep study of God's Word. I teach a women's Bible Study every Thursday at my church. This past year we began going verse by verse and God laid on my heart the books of James and 1 Peter. Books of the Bible on trials, God's grace, God's gift of salvation and endurance...books on Spiritual maturity in Christ and the walk of a believer. As I taught the final chapter and verses of 1 Peter on May 13th, I didn't know that I had just entered what could possibly be one of the biggest trials and school of life classes I've ever participated in.....breast cancer. The previous day, I had a needle biopsy done on two masses found in my right breast in early April. I would receive those results the next day and then would proceed through the beginnings of this class, surgical biopsy next and then waiting pathology results. On my 16th wedding anniversary, my husband I sat in my breast surgeon's office to hear the words....stage 1 invasive ductile breast cancer. Words that would be forever etched on my life, the life of my husband and 5 children and His testimony He is creating in us. 

And so the new chapter begins. The breast cancer chapter. But I know this difficult class will be so much more than just breast cancer. As I ended 1 Peter 5, here are the words God imprinted on my heart....

"But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. AMEN (so let it be!)....I have written exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand." 

And so I stand. I stand still in this class that will test my faith, that will strengthen my relationship with Jesus Christ, that will be a testimony of His faithfulness. I stand a little scared at what may be before me knowing the physical testing that will come as I undergo a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery on July 15th. I stand with my shield of faith in Christ so firmly gripped for Satan is desiring to bring fear and worry into my thought process and I won't let him play with my thoughts. I've stood in that place many times before and praise God for the victory He has given me. I am not worried. My faith is so firmly rooted in Christ and my eyes right now are steadily fixed on Him. I stand in the victory of Christ. This battle is not mine. God has already won the battle. I stand on Christ and pray that He will teach me, establish me, strengthen, and settle me. The class is underway....not sure how long it will last....but pray that when it is over....I will be changed forever to reflect the love and grace of my heavenly Father. May my physical alterations be an altar of remembrance upon which I praise Jesus Christ. Thank you to each of you who will stand arm and arm with me, as I step slowing, yet confidently in Christ through this new "school of life." 

This blog will be my journal. It will be a place I can update each of you as the updating part can be a bit overwhelming on a more personal level. It will be a place I can share my thoughts, emotions, and my faith. May my life be an open book and a testimony to the glory of God. 

Please join me in praying over my surgery on July 15th. During that surgery, I will also have my lymph nodes checked for cancer. May I ask that you petition our Heavenly Father for clear and cancer free lymph nodes? God tells us in Hebrews 4:16 "we can come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Thank you for praying. 

Much love,

Stacy

Psalm 27

Stacy Davis

(Previously published June 27, 2010)

As God always does, He never disappoints me and always meets me right where my heart cries the loudest.....as I sat before the Lord this morning with my Bible.....I often end my quiet time with a Psalm. I sometimes to to the Psalm reflecting the date. Since today is the 27th...that is the Psalm I read and continue to mediate on. May it encourage your heart this morning, too 

The Psalm is entitled:

"An Exuberant Declaration of Faith"

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; 

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the strength of my life;

Of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked came against me

to eat up my flesh,

My enemies and foes,

they stumbled and fell.

Though an army may encamp against me, (for me-that army is cancer)

My heart shall not fear;

Though war may rise against me,

In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the Lord,

That will I seek:

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord

All the days of my life

To behold the beauty of the Lord,

And to inquire in His temple.

For in the time of trouble.

He shall hide me in His pavilion;

In the secret place of His tabernacle

He shall hide me;

He shall set me high upon a rock

And now my head shall be lifted up above

my enemies all around me;

Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;

I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord when I cry with my voice!

Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When you said, "Seek My face,"

My heart said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek."

Do not hide Your face from me;

Do not turn Your servant away in anger;

You have been my help;

Do not leave me nor forsake me,

O God of my salvation.

When my father and my mother forsake me,

Then the Lord will take care of me.

Teach me Your way, O Lord,

And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.

Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;

For false witnesses have risen against me,

And such as breathe out violence.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed

That I would see the goodness of the Lord

In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;

Be of good courage,

And He shall strengthen your heart;

Wait, I say, on the Lord!

We are currently in Florida on a family vacation (again God's timing was perfect!!) We are off to the beach....I think possibly my most favorite place on the earth. Have a wonderful day!

Love,

Stacy

A Respite and A Walk in the Sand

Stacy Davis

(Previously published June 29, 2010)

For the last 6 years, our family has had the awesome opportunity to vacation in Bradenton, Florida each year on a shoe string budget. My husband's parents bought a second home here around that time and have not yet become true snow birds. They come and go throughout the year and graciously open the home to their children when they aren't here.

In the earlier years, when we had fewer children and frequent flier points stacking up due to my husband's business travels, we would fly down, rent a car and spend about 10 days or so, relaxing, soaking up the son, visiting different beaches....Anna Maria Island, Lido Beach in Sarasota and Siesta Key....we would play mini-golf, maybe drive to Disney for the Day....but mostly, we would just enjoy being together as a family without the daily pulls on our time when at home. To say I look forward to this time each year, is an understatement....I long for it. It has become truly a respite for me and my family. 

As a homeschooling family, we don't have to travel around the school holidays (a perk to teaching your children at home!) We've been here from late March to early April, from late April to early May and in May. About 3 years ago, we began driving down....7 plane tickets became too much for this pocketbook....and that in itself became an adventure for us. It is quite a sight. We drive through the night, two sport pods on top of the Suburban, an air mattress in the back two seats, and the third row for the last two children still requiring car seats. As the boys are getting bigger, it has become a little more cramped, but there is something so adventurous about a road trip and the whole family being confined to four car doors. Call me crazy!

Well, this year, it looked like a family vacation wasn't going to make the calendar. After 12 years in orthopedic spinal development, my husband just couldn't shake God's leading to inquire about the sales end of the business. It was a huge leap of faith for him as it meant trading product development and management....the safety of the "inside," for the uncertainty that comes from working from home and managing his own set of doctors in his own territory of hospitals. No more scheduled vacation days, no more constant paycheck (although God took care of this detail, as well), no more getting up and going into the office. And as God always does when you are walking in His will in obedience, He opened one door after another and in the blink of an eye....a territory in our backyard with many benefits and perks. So this past January, my husband no longer got up each morning and headed into the office. A longtime prayer of mine was answered, and my hubby now worked from home. 

This took a lot of getting used to. But as a family, we all love having daddy with us. In light of my current health situation and all the appointments I've had to go to, I have often fallen to my knees in overwhelming gratitude to my heavenly Father, who knows the end from the beginning. He knew and he lightened my husband's workload, stress and time before we even understood all the pieces. And that is where God's plans are so much bigger than our own. He only needs us looking to the next step, because looking too far ahead overwhelms and often brings confusion. But He already has our whole life story written. And so, with the new job, his previous 5 weeks of vacation time looked a whole lot different. Now, if one of his doctor's was in surgery....so was my husband. And this year, as we tried to plan our family vacation, it just didn't seem to come together in the usual fashion.

Back in late winter/early spring, my older sister, Heather, who also is in the midst of one of her biggest trials ever...a husband who has left after 20 years of marriage....called me and asked if we were going to Florida this year? Heather lives in Texas and has 3 children, all of which are around the ages of my children. As you can imagine, the cousins don't get to see each other too much. Heather and I, well we have become quite close this past year as I have had the privilege to walk hand in hand and heart in heart with her from a distance: crying together, praying together, encouraging each other, rejoicing together at God's provisons and just being. My dad and stepmother had bought a second home last year about 2 hours south of Bradenton, in Cape Coral, FL. Heather and her 3 children were planning a trip in June to Cape Coral for 2 and a half weeks. She asked if we would think about coming at the same time.

We had never been to Florida in June. It is hurricane season, for Pete's sake! By that time, it is actually hot in our neck of the woods....it wasn't exactly what I had in mind, nor even thought would work based on my husband's new job. But again, God knows and put the pieces together.

"My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways." says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

And here we are.....2 weeks after I received my breast cancer diagnosis....God gave us a respite.

My husband had to fly home for a bit, but Heather and I and our kids nestled in at my dad's and again, just enjoyed being together. The cousins had a ball! And then, we went our separate ways for some family time alone. 

Our trip has been shall I say, "just what the doctor ordered!" From the hand of the great physician Himself. We've taken in the white sand beaches and crystal clear ocean water, we've rented a boat and cruised the gulf, as the kid's fished and caught baby sharks (yes.....it was amazing and something the kids will never forget!) We've had dinner on the beach. We traveled to West Palm Beach and went to an amazing Waterpark. We've rented waverunners at Ft. Myers beach and jumped the gulf waves at high speeds only to stop and enjoy a school of dolphins within hands reach of the waverunner....truly an amazing experience! We've played in the pool, scoured the sand for beautiful shells, and enjoyed lazy days playing games and cards.

And for me....on top of all that.....I've had time alone with my Savior and deep communion with Him. There is something about coming here that allows me to hear so clearly from God. Maybe it is my heart's posture, maybe it is fewer distractions...I'm not sure....but I look forward to hearing from God's heart and the quiet time that He blesses me with while here. A couple years ago, I had been asked to speak for the first time about our son, Joshua and the testimony of his life and death. It was here that God put those words onto paper. It was here, that God gave me a verse to begin praying over my husband. It was here that I read "Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman" by Anne Ortlund (highly recommend this book), which God impressed upon my heart to lead as a summer book study for the ladies in our church. Not to mention how He spoke to my heart about spiritual disciplines and things that needed changing in my own life through that book. And the list goes on and on......

Well this year, it has been no different. It has been a respite in many ways the same, but in other ways different. As the reality of my life right now tends to creep into my quiet thoughts, I am constantly aware of what lies ahead of me upon returning home. It is like this cloud that can swoop in and block the sun. Since the day of diagnosis, this is what I have been facing. This dark and looming cloud that some mornings I wake up with, some nights I go to sleep with and other days it moves in quickly as does a black storm cloud right before a big storm. And my saying to my husband has been, "the clouds are looming today." But God gave me a verse the other day as I was feeling wrapped in this cloud....

"And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, A morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain." 2 Samuel 23:4

As the sun shines after the rain and brings forth new fruit and vegetation, so shall I be after this storm passes. God will bring me through this cancer and I will forever be changed. The clouds will give way to the morning sun. 

And as I walked on the beach on Sunday....I was feeling a heaviness, a sadness...feeling alone even though I was surrounded by my family. I started walking down a stretch of the beach, alone, that became unmanicured. There were dunes that lined the beaches' shoreline, very few people, and seaweed that had been dragged in from sea. All you could hear were the waves lapping against the shoreline. As I walked I began talking with God....

You know throughout these last 6 weeks, I haven't been angry or bitter. I haven't questioned God or even asked "why me?" It doesn't make me special. It has just been my journey to the heart of God. We all go on our own journey and down paths God has appointed for us. But after walking through the death of a child.....nothing else really compares. I learned 8 years ago, that God's love is everlasting and that our posture is to stand with open hands. I have learned to accept the blessings and the hardships. It was a really tough lesson to learn. One I fought and fought until finally God brought me to the end of myself and said, "Do you really trust me and will you accept all that I have for you....my way, not ours?" I answered yes to that question. 

God gave me the victory I desperately needed as I surrendered all to Him. It has been a blessed walk. But one that has had pain.

And so on Sunday, I began walking in that pain. As the clouds descended upon my heart and sadness crept in....and as I looked at the shells randomly scattered beneath my feet....I saw a beautiful, yet broken conch shell. I knelt down and picked it up and immediately wanted to find one that was untouched by the seas force. I wanted to find one that was without holes or cracks. You know the ones that you find in the tourist shops. The ones that aren't real. And the more I walked the more desperately I wanted to find the perfect shell. The prized possession. But all I kept finding were broken ones. Oh they were still beautiful, some shiny, some dull and almost whitewashed and speckled....and I asked God to show Himself to me in that moment.

And there was silence.

I continued walking.....and found another broken and cracked conch shell. 

The silence from God became ever more real. 

And the more silence, the more my heart cried out for His hand to reach down and touch me and His Holy Spirit to speak to me.

And then as He began parting the clouds over my heart. He spoke ever so softly to me...."Stacy, look around you. I am here. I've never left." 

And my heart immediately was humbled before the Lord as I gazed out over the expanse of the sea knowing that God's hand created that sea. And as I watched the waves hit the sand knowing that God told those waves how far to go and set the earth in the sky amongst the sun and the moon and dictated the seas coming and going. 

"Do not fear Me?" says the Lord.

"Will you not tremble at My presence,

Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea,

By a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it?

And though its waves toss to and fro,

Yet they cannot prevail;

Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it?" Jeremiah 5:22

"How precious are your thoughts to me, O God!"

How great is the sum of them!

If I should count them, they would be more

in number than the sand;

When I awake, I am still with You." Psalm 139:17-18

And He wrapped me with His love as I said, "forgive me, Lord." You never leave. It is I who turns away. 

And as I looked down and saw yet another shell lying in the sand.....He quickly reminded me that these shells are more beautiful than those manufactured. They are real. They've weathered the waves, they've weathered life growing inside of them as they offered that life protection. They are the prized possession....a life lived in Christ and beauty is there amidst the brokenness.

Those shells will sit on my desk at home as a reminder again, of the faithfulness of my Father. And the day I walked in the sand.

Later that day, I sat in my favorite spot.....in a beach chair just touching the oceans edge. I looked into the sky and again, God spoke so quietly to my heart. 

"Stacy, the truth is, when the clouds descend, the sun is always still in the sky." "It is what you choose to focus on...the clouds or the SON."

Last night we sat at once again, my favorite restaurant at the beach. It sits at the point of Anna Maria Island right on the beaches edge. It is casual, laid back and so friendly.....and dinner is served under canopied tables right in the sand overlooking the ocean. We go there every year. As we ordered dinner, storm clouds began rolling in....really black clouds being pushed out to sea. The wind picked up, a cool breeze took away the evening humidity, we were ushered up onto a deck table just next to the sand and watched the rain come and the clouds descend upon us. The storm passed quickly and we were covered and protected underneath that umbrella. Still enjoying the breathtaking view. And this is what I saw appear....

....the sun begin to peak through the darkest clouds and I grabbed my camera not wanting to ever forget that beautiful sight. 

This cancer thing....it is another storm, another cloud, amidst the sun. I pray it passes quickly and God makes my physical body whole and well. I'm sure there will be more cloudy days ahead....but I pray that on those days, my heart and my head will choose to look up and see the SON. 

Much love,

Stacy

Captured Moments

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 2, 2010)

The smell of the salt air, the ocean breezes, lazy mornings, tropical vegetation, splashing in the waves, sand between your toes, sun beating down, family time.....it was glorious! I hope you enjoy the captured moments below. 

We arrived home late in the afternoon on Thursday. It was a long drive this time, (well, it always is, but this time seemed even longer!) and I didn't help my precious husband much with the driving, as I just couldn't keep my eyes open in the wee hours of the night. I think out of the 17 hours, I drove 4 and those hours were scattered throughout the drive. Thankfully, my husband is a gracious man and didn't seem to mind. 

We came home to quite a mess, as we had learned on our vacation that severe storms had hit our neighborhood the previous week. We had leaves and branches covering our yard and the pool was a mess, but thankfully no real damage. Faithy girl and Jed enjoyed picking up sticks with me and building a fire in the firepit. After dinner, they savored the ever favorite smores as a result of all their labor. 

The unpacking continues into today and always seems like a mountainous job to accomplish. As you can see, I'm taking a little break. Yesterday I had to clean out the refrigerator as we had lost power from the storm for a couple of days and then on to the grocery store to replenish. 

Ahhh, back to reality....and as I look at the calendar date, July 2nd....I'm reminded that surgery is just 13 days away. Upon leaving, I felt trapped in this place of being ready to leave, as I love my day to day life at home, but knowing what is waiting for me in the coming weeks. Next week is filled with doctor's appointments: Tuesday the final appointment with my breast surgeon, Thursday pre-admission testing at the hospital and then Friday my final meeting with the plastic surgeon to discuss more details on the reconstruction and then as he told me, "this will be the appointment when I will order your implants." Hard to even wrap my brain around the fact that this is my road. 

But for today, I'll linger in the beautiful memories of the last two weeks, take care of some projects that I want accomplished before surgery and just walk one day at a time! 

Much love,

Stacy

Rewind to the beginning

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 5, 2010)

The much anticipated weekend was before me. April 23-25th. A weekend that had materialized from over a year of prayer and waiting on the Lord. I drove to the AmishView Inn and Suites in Lancaster, PA with such anticipation and expectancy flowing through me at how God was going to move in our hearts this weekend. Over 100 Calvary Chapel women and friends would be joining us within hours, pouring through the doors of the hotel for a weekend of Bible teaching, fellowship, quiet time, fun and overall relaxation. 

Two nights and three days of retreating from the daily pulls on our time and being able to sit, undisturbed in the presence of God. And we were being blessed beyond measure this year as Debbi Bryson, from Calvary Chapel Vista (in California) was joining us as our main teacher. Truly a feast was going to be set before us from the hand and heart of God. "Founded on the Rock" was our theme for the weekend taken from Luke 6:46-49 about a life that is strong in the Lord, standing immoveable on the rock of Jesus Christ, able to withstand the storms that come quickly into our lives rattling and shaking us and ultimately testing our faith in Jesus Christ. 

As the Women's Ministry Coordinator at our church, God has given me the awesome privilege of planning our annual women's retreat, really of being His hands and feet as He lays forth His plans. Back in the late summer and early fall, God had spoken to my heart the theme for the coming retreat. I watched in awe as one by one, throughout the year, God put each piece of the retreat together and joined the hearts of the women together under these verses. So many women were in the midst of major trials and testings. Marriages were being tested, diseases/illnesses were prevalent, death, heartache, financial pressures, lies that were destroying relationships, lonliness, depression, wayward children.....the list continued and we can all fill in the blank to our pain and trials. Little did I know that at this retreat, one of the biggest storms in my life was about to descend. God knew, as He knows the end from the beginning. And for a year He had these verses pouring over and over my heart. 

"He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock." Luke 6:48

The women began arriving Friday evening. I was to teach the first session that evening and give the ladies the "big picture" if you will on those verses: "Come, Hear, Do." I've never thought myself as being a teacher of anything so there is a lot of irony in the fact that God has called me to teach not only the women in our body, but my children in our home. I think it is God's way of continually telling me that it is His work and not mine. What my mind can fathom, His is so much greater. 

I was so immersed in my the love of my Savior that weekend and in the lives of each of these women. I felt their hurts to the deepest part of my heart and carried them to the throne of our Lord. This is where God met me on Saturday morning: my eyes set on Him and my heart set on all the women around me. 

I woke up Saturday morning, and spent some time with the Lord and then hurried in the shower wanting to quickly get down to breakfast and be settled before the morning sessions began. As I do every day, I shaved under my arms and as the palm of my hand holding the razor brushed over the top of my right breast, I immediately felt a lump slide under my hand. 

Now I must digress for just a moment. I don't do monthly breast exams. I know the general composition of my breasts and I'm speaking here to all you breastfeeding mommies....the truth as we all know it is that the perky breasts of our early 20's change quite drastically as we birth children and breastfeed. And the more children you have, the more you breastfeed, the more those breasts become shall I say, deflated! :) After birthing and breastfeeding 6 babies (4 of which for over a year), I am quite defalted on top and the breast tissue is super thin! Oh, I wouldn't trade a second of those last 12 child bearing years to have perky breasts again. It was all worth it. But I don't have much that needs examining. That of course, is no excuse. I am now a 100% advocate of self-breast exams. And so I say to all you women reading..... know your boobies women and know them well. 

Now picking up in the shower........as my hand slipped over this lump. I was a bit startled. I then went on to examine the whole breast and found a rather large lump on the top of my right breast. Being a women who in the past (like almost 30 years...) was prone to worry and fearing the unknown.....I tell you it was all but a miracle that not an ounce of worry entered into my thinking process. This is truly the Holy Spirit working inside of me and freeing me from this sin. I can say with assurity that there is victory in Jesus. I remember the thought going through my head, "hummm, this need to be watched closely and looked at when I get home." And literally I moved on. Thought gone, lump out of my mind and on with the work of the ministry. 

I was rooming with my dearest and longtime friend, Beth and I didn't even mention it to her, or to my husband later on the phone. 

The weekend came to a close. God had done more than we could ever had imagined in the lives of so many and I was tired, but rejoicing in His goodness and love. The lump was a distant memory until Tuesday night.

I was home and packing to go to visit relatives and see my sister, Heather, in the NY area for 5 days. As I sat on the edge of the bed talking with my husband, I remembered the lump. I shared the finding with my husband, who then confirmed that it was present and palpable. We both agreed that I need to get it checked out through radiology as soon as I returned from NY. As my husband worries about next to nothing, He assured me that he thought it wasn't anything. I wasn't quite so sure. 

Fast forward.....Friday, May 7th, I'm scheduled for diagnostic mammogram and then ultrasound, if needed. Since the age of 35, my ob/gynecologist has given me a radiology script to have a baseline mammogram done. Well, at 35, I was still nursing so upon turning 36, he told me, "get a mammogram!" I didn't, deeming it not really high on the priority list and never even thinking that breast cancer would be a part of my life, as it didn't really run in our family. Well, now at age 37, and turning 38 in 5 days, with this script in hand I went to the appointment. I wasn't really worried. I didn't have anyone come with me. As I sat in the parking lot before entering the building, the thought of breast cancer began to creep into my thought process. I quietly prayed asking God to go before me and be my strength. I went in for the mammogram and my technician was just lovely and gentle. She had such a sweet spirit and we laughed together, despite the awkward moments and I'm sure, her seeing things on the screen that caused her concern. 

She finished the scan and lead me quietly into the back waiting room and telling me I would need an ultrasound. My heart began beating a little faster. I remember pulling out a book that I had put in my purse on "Principles of Leadership for Women" by Gail Mays. I remember reading over and over the words "a leader fit for the Master's use." 

"But what I can promise is that God never wastes your pain. He will use every trial to make you more prepared and fit for the Master's use."

"Remember you're simply a clay pot chosen by the Master to be used. It's not the container people should notice but rather what's inside the container!"

"Have you forgotten what prayer can accomplish? I'm so thankful that early on in ministry the example was set for me to make prayer my first response." 

And as I let these words work through me, I was called into the next examining room. I laid on the ultrasound table with my eyes set straight up just praying. I laid as the technician took hold of a ruler, laying it across the top of my breast and moving the wand around the area in question. And then she told me to get dressed and she'd be back in a minute. They were long minutes. I didn't have a watch on and there was no clock in the room, but the minutes seemed like hours. I knew in my heart something was wrong. In walked a gentleman, the technician and another woman. The radiologist pulled his seat up next to me and said, "you have two masses in your right breast. We don't know what they are. They have characteristics of cancer and they have characteristics of fibroids. The only way to know for sure is to have them biopsied. Do you have any questions?" There were not assurances, no hands extended of hope. Just the unknown. 

To say that the peace of the Lord was upon me is an understatement. His supernatural strength flooded through me. I looked at the radiologist and said, "ok, let's go to the next step." And as the radiologist and technician left the room. There across from me sat a young woman, probably about my age, who pulled her chair up close to me, leaned in and introduced herself. Her name was Cindy and she was my new breast care coordinator, a nurse, who would be walking the intimate steps with me until the end. A woman, who shared with me that just a couple weeks ago, she had to walk these very same steps herself. All turned out well for her. Her masses were benign. But she had such a heart of compassion. There was tenderness in her eyes. And I looked at this woman I said, "God knows. Let's do what we have to do." 

She lead me to another room where she proceeded to talk me through what I could expect in the coming week. I would need to meet with a breast surgeon and would have a needle biopsy done in her office, as the mass was large enough to be done without ultrasound guidance. Her job, was to take care of all of the details and make sure I was ok as we went through the process. I broke down for a couple minutes as the magnitude and possibilities began to overwhelm me. It was a bit surreal. 

Out to the sunshine I went. I remember it vividly from when I received my son's diagnosis just 8 years previous.....your world begins to come "unglued" if you will, but life around you continues untouched. Or does it?? Is it just that we become consumed with ourselves and don't stop to take notice of those hurting around us? My face was tear streaked, my heart was heavy as I got into the car to drive home. 

It was another moment in my life where I knew in my heart of hearts, that my course was being changed. The winds were picking up, the storm was on the horizon....and I needed to stay the course hand in hand with my Savior, trusting Him to light the path.....

Much love,

Stacy

 

Yesterday's Appointment

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 7, 2010)

Yesterday morning, I had my last appointment with my breast surgeon, Dr. Chang. It was rather uneventful, as I had already been given all of my test results up to this point except the BRAC1 and BRAC2 breast cancer gene test. I really wasn't expecting much, only to go over the details of next week's surgery and hopefully get those results. 

Right before our vacation, I had the bloodwork done for the genetic testing. Dr. Chang had recommended the test due to my age. It is amazing to me that there is even a breast cancer gene that can be a part of our genetic code. The test takes two weeks to run and will tell if you carry this gene that puts you at a higher risk for not only breast cancer, but also ovarian cancer. I knew that breast cancer wasn't prevalent on my dad's side. My dad's sister had breast cancer in her 50's and had a right breast mastectomy, but didn't need further treatment and has been healthy since. Huge praise! I had always been told that for a girl, the greater risk is on the mother's side. My mother never had breast cancer, nor did her only biological sister. But her mother died when she was 13 and their father had deserted the family many years prior. There aren't many more immediate living relatives on my mom's side. My mom told me that her mom had died of liver cancer, but when I spoke with my aunt (mom's sister), she said that her mom had what they called back then "the female cancer." So really, no one knew. For me, this was the wild card and the link that could bring a positive result back from the genetic testing. 

Thankfully, I received a negative result. I do not carry the breast cancer gene. This is good news not only for me, but my sisters and of course my little Faithy girl! 

We spent some time talking through my surgery for next week. Of course, my husband, being in the medical community, wanted to know the knitty gritty details of procedures and incisions. I think he would be in the surgery if they let him! But snapshot overview is that it is a long surgery. I will have general anesthesia and be fully intubated. The surgery will last around 6-8 hours, depending on how many lymph nodes will need to be removed. She will start with the sentinel lymph nodes, remove them, send them to pathology, remove the diseased breast while waiting to hear back if cancer is present in any of the sentinel nodes. If so, she will proceed to remove all of the auxillary nodes leaving only the last row behind. She will then remove the left breast. Then the plastic surgeon comes in and begins the reconstruction process putting in breast expanders that will become my new "temporary" breasts over the course of the next 6 months. Following surgery, the expanders will be empty. Each week for six weeks, I will visit my plastic surgeon and he will "fill me up" with saline injections getting me to the desired size. (not sure yet what that will be!)

I will probably be in the hospital through the weekend, depending on how I am doing. My plastic surgeon has told me that the pain afterward is pretty intense, as did my breast surgeon yesterday, as the breast expanders are put in the pectoral muscle tissue. So the pain is more a spasm of those muscles adjusting. They said I will be on muscle relaxers, (aka valium) as well as morphine and then Percocet. Oh my....for a girl who almost never takes even Tylenol, this will be a lot. I am praying that my high pain tolerance kicks in to overdrive! 

At this point, I have a diagnosis of stage 1 Invasive Ductal breast cancer due to the pathology results thus far and the size of my tumors. (one 16mm and one 7mm, but not attached to each other.) We spent some time talking about the lymph nodes, as those really will put the final picture together. If they find cancer in (I think it was) more than 3 lymph nodes, my staging will go higher and further treatment will be greatly impacted. Thankfully, all of my other tests have been clear: bone scan, chest xray, blood work, left breast and liver function test. Apparently, breast cancer likes these areas of the body, so they check them first for cancer. My chest wall also is clear. 

If no additional cancer is found during surgery, then I will be on the borderline of needing chemo or radiation in the weeks following surgery. If cancer is found in any of my lymph nodes, Dr. Chang is saying that chemo and radiation will most likely be in my future beginning one month following surgery, with chemo first. I have not yet met with an oncologist and will be doing that 2 weeks after surgery, once the full picture is known. I will meet with both a medical oncologist and also a radiation oncologist. They give the body a month to heal from surgery before starting the next phase of treatment. 

So, as there always is in life, there are a lot of unknowns still. But I really and truly rest in the fact that God knows all of these unknowns and I know that God loves me and will walk these steps with me. 

Yesterday was a hard day for me. We all have those days. As the day wore on, the magnitude of the surgery became more and more present. I was on the phone a lot catching up with some friends and talking to my sisters as they were checking in with me. By evening, it all came crashing in as I was talking to my sister, Heather. The wave crested and began to beat down. It is going to be hard. I knew that...but I don't think I have let my mind touch the emotional side yet of losing my breasts. Of looking in the mirror for the first time after surgery and what I will see. Of the whole process....

Of the hospital stay....I've never been in the hospital before without a baby. I'm not one who really likes being alone. I know I am never alone with God, and this is yet another part that God is working through me....the thought of being in the hospital for 3 days by myself.....that in and of itself is emotional for me. I don't like being alone. Call me crazy. I would rather have 20 kids walking in and out of the doors of my home, than 20 hours of quiet. Oh, don't get me wrong, I do like quiet moments, when the children have all gone to bed, or in the early hours of the morning, but I know that at anytime, the quiet escapes and laughter, talking and children will fill the space. So, for many reasons, I'm not at all looking forward to next week nor to the time in the hospital. 

May I again humbly ask for your prayers? Please pray that God's will be done in my life. That my lymph nodes will all come back clear of cancer. That He will minister to my heart and teach me what I am to learn right now. That He will keep my mind focused on Him, and not these details, for He alone will bring me complete peace. 

One of my favorite verses is found in Isaiah 26:3,4...as I am writing this morning, God has brought that verse to my mind once again. I leave it with you today. 

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength."

Much love,

Stacy

 

Ramblings

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 11, 2010)

Sorry for the quiet the last couple of days. It hasn't been for a lack of things to write about, but merely a limited number of hours in my day! I have about 5 blogposts swirling around in my head, as God is speaking to this heart of mine in many ways. I'm trying to process through all that He is trying to tell me. Throughout this entire journey, I've prayed, "Lord, please let me see your fingerprints on each moment. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear. I don't want to miss a moment." It seems like even in the everyday moments, the ordinary, I am constantly aware of His presence. And He has been taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. More on that in another post... 

As I am reading through Matthew right now, it makes me think of the multitudes that would follow Jesus. They followed Him for days just wanting to be close to Him. To lean in and hear what He had to say. To get a glimpse of His power and majesty. To fully understand what He was trying to teach them. I am one of the multitude, just wanting to be near my Jesus. And as many would come to Him with a heart of worship, crying out for Him to heal them....that is my heart's cry."Lord, I believe you can heal me!" But I am astutely aware that God may have another plan and that doesn't mean He is any less loving or powerful. That just means His plan is different, but in the end, always better than mine. So I say, "Lord, I pray you heal me, but even more, I pray that God's will be done in and through me."

The last couple of days have been eventful. On Thursday, we took the kids to Hershey Park. We go every year and had tickets that needed to be used before September. (knowing that I probably wouldn't be up for a Hershey park day in the next two months...we went despite the soaring thermostat here....over 90!) Our nephew, Max, was also in town for the week, so the boys were thrilled to share the day with their cousin. Due to the hot temperature that day, most of the people were at the waterpark, so the lines we slim to none on most of the roller coasters.

Overall it was a great day and another change of pace for all of us. I had a hard time fully engaging throughout the day, though. Often my husband would look at me and say, "Stacy, your're here but a million miles away." That I was. There is something about this new cancer thing that just sits with you. I found myself looking around at the people passing by and wondering what their story was? What they were dealing with? It really has given me a deeper compassion for people. No one knew I had cancer, but yet it was there. It is now a part of me and always will be. It doesn't define me, but it is just a part of me, but right now so ever-present. There would be those moments of just shear fun....and then in an instant, somehow, the reminder that I was sick and a week from that day would be in surgery. And so in many ways, I was on my own ride that day.

On Friday, I had my final visit with my plastic surgeon and then went from there over to the hospital for pre-admission testing. On my way home, I stopped by Target to run a few errands. Upon entering the store, I received a phone call from my husband that a minor accident had occurred with child number 5. Back to the hospital we went to receive these......

That would be 9 staples in his head. Apparently, as Jed came running through the kitchen, he nose dived into the wall, hitting the corner and a big slice in his poor head resulted. Mind you, just 6 weeks prior, he received 2 staple on top of his head as he met his match again with a park bench. Jed is quite the trooper. By 4:00 we were back home from the hospital. Thankfully, he didn't have a concussion, just a nasty reminder of meeting the wall! Later, he was quite proud to show everyone where he had made contact with the wall and left a nice dent.

And the weekend has concluded with lots of projects getting done. In many ways, I feel like my summer is coming to a close and all the things I had wanted to accomplish are now getting done in a week's time. I keep joking with my sweet hubby that I feel like I am nesting.....just no baby coming to prepare for. He is spackling and painting, crossing things off the summer "to do" list and I am hand in hand with him getting much accomplished. My dear, sweet friend, Beth, gave so generously of her time today and after church came over to help me organize some closets, the mudroom and the kid's toys in the basement. You know when disorder descends and everywhere you look there are piles....well that was my house. It really was all a bit overwhelming as not only is my house desperately in need of a deep clean, it had needed some order. Thank you, Beth, for bringing me halfway there. I have order, tomorrow I hope to have clean! 

In just a couple days, my house will be filled with many new voices as family comes in to be with my children while I am in the hospital. I can't believe my surgery is only 3 days away. I am trying not to think about it too much. This morning, I had such precious and emotional time of worship at church. Even going to church, God was drawing me. There was such an urgency in me to meet with my Savior this morning in worship and praise. He never disappoints. There I sat, with tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of love, tears of reverence streaming down my face, with hands raised, giving God the praise that is due His glorious name. Our worship leader, Nadine, read from Hebrews 4:16, which is a verse I find great comfort in..."Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Nadine lead me to the throne of Jesus Sunday morning where I know that He hears me and will give me His grace and mercy as I walk the cancer road. Thank you Nadine for allowing God to move through you and for giving so freely of your gifts for our Lord. 

I partake of His suffering right now. I walk the steps, yet again, that my Lord and Savior walked the days before He was lead from the garden to the cross. 

"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." 1 Peter 4:12,13

He gave of His life, so that we may live eternally with Him, if only we would believe and receive Him into our hearts and lives through faith. He paid the price with His life to cover our sins. All we have to do is receive Him. What He is asking me to do pales in comparison, really...there is no comparison....yet my hear cry is the same, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." As I sang this morning, "my strength will rise as I wait upon the Lord." It is in His strength that I rest and close out my day.

Much love,

Stacy

 

Waiting

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 14, 2010)

Just wanted to say 'Good Morning' and let you know that I am here. It is a crazy day....house to finish cleaning as many people arrive this evening, errands to run, final appointment at 4:15 with Plastic surgeon so that he can mark me for surgery tomorrow, church tonight and then family arrives around 9:00PM. 

I had wanted to post Part 2 of my journey, and hope to do so before days end. We'll see how it goes. I should also know surgery time sometime this afternoon. I'll post it here, as many have been asking. 

Thank you so much for all of your cards received, phone calls, emails and comments on FB and here. Please know how much I love you all. I'm so sorry I can't respond back to all of you personally and tell you how much you mean to me. God is carrying me in His mighty grip today. 

As I lingered long with Him this morning in prayer and reading my Bible....He ministered again His attributes to me....His character.....who He is. He is a loving and gracious God. He gives good gifts and His mercy is new every morning. He is and will continue to carry me. 

In Psalm 44:3 He spoke these words to my heart:

"For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; But it was Your (God's) right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, Because You favored them." 

Psalm 43:5

"Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God."

He will deliver me. He will fight this battle for me. I can't. I have no power over cancer....but God does. He will fight. And I rest in the fact that the battle has already been won. My eyes look to my Savior today, and will rest there as I wait. I stand confident, yet so very weak and fragile. Thank you for praying for me today. 

I'll update more later.......

Much love,

Stacy

Surgery

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 14, 2010)

Just wanted to let you know that my surgery is scheduled for 1:00PM, Thursday, July 15th at Chester County Hospital. I have to be at the hospital at 8:30AM. I will undergo a double mastectomy, reconstruction with tissue expanders and lymph node biopsy. 

I humbly ask for your prayers over my surgery. 

For divine healing from the mighty hand of our Father, if this is His will for me. 

That my lymph nodes would come back clear of cancer. 

That the doctors would have clarity of mind and steady hands. 

That God would manage the pain and surround me with loving, gentle nurses.

For a quick and complication/infection free recovery.

That God would put a hedge about my home while I am away and protect my children and their precious hearts. That He would bring them comfort and bring verses to their minds. 

That God would bless all the hands and the feet that are serving so humbly and willingly my family while I am in the hospital through meals, tangible needs and with the children. 

That God all I do and say would bring honor and glory to my King. That He would be exalted.

That God would give me His perfect peace and love.....as "perfect love casts out fear." 

1 John 4:18

That God would "perfect, establish, strengthen and settle me"...1 Peter 5:10

That I would "Be Still and know that He is God." "The Lord of hosts is with us (me)" Psalm 46:10,11

Thank you for praying on my behalf. 

Much love,

Stacy

 

A Plan

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 15, 2010)

It is almost 11:30 and I have just come back from nuclear medicine. I am in ambulatory care at the hospital......waiting to be taken up to the operating room. I am not always a good waiter, as patience has never been an attribute that came easy to me. God has taken me through many valleys to teach me this precious quality. I am learning to wait and as I wait, to continue trusting in the plan of my heavenly Father.

Yesterday, God had been impressing upon my heart Matthew 7:11 and Jeremiah 29:11

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father, who is in heaven, give good things to those who ask Him." Matthew 7:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

There is a beauty as you go through a valley when you allow your eyes and your heart to go from the physical circumstance to God. I have found as I have walked through the valley on different occasions that when I focus on the God and who He is, He fills me with His peace and the physical circumstance, pain and uncertainties begin to fade. They are still present, but not the focus. This is an act of the will. This is a conscious decision. If I asked you right now to think about the beach. To picture yourself sitting on the waters edge, think about the smell of the salty air, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.....Are you there? As the questions were asked, did you go there in your mind? 

It is no different with God. It is what we purpose in our mind and our heart. 

Philippians 4:8 "Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on those things."

This is where my mind is as I wait....on God. That He is a loving Father and nothing is by accident in the kingdom of God. Nothing is haphazard, nothing by mistake. He has plans that are good. The clincher is not how we define good, but how He does. And in order to define good, we have to go back to the heart of God. His love is everlasting. He is compassionate. And whereas He has allowed cancer to enter my path, His plan is nonetheless good. And so I trust Him. 

I trust Him if my lymph nodes are clear. I trust Him if there aren't. 

I trust His plan because my faith, hope and trust is in Him.

And as I closed out my night, blogging my prayer requests......God laid Psalm 46:10 on my heart. "To be still and know that He is God." 

When I awoke early this morning, I went to spend time with Jesus in preparation for the day. As God knows the end from the beginning, as He has every detail covered.....as if, as if I should doubt for one minute.....I opened my devotional and the day I was on was titled, "Purpose." The verses that were referenced were Matthew 7 and Jeremiah 29. I read the devotional just relishing in God's goodness. And then I turned the page, and the title of the next page was, "Quiet Times." and just guess what the verse was......Psalm 46:10. This morning, I marveled at God and His hand upon me. At His provision. At His faithfulness....as if I have anything to worry about. 

And so I sit here....being still.....meditating on my Lord and Savior....and waiting and trusting. 

My friend will post updates later for me. 

Much love,

Stacy

New Updates as of 2:00PM

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 15, 2010)

Hello everyone,

This is Stacy's friend, Beth. Just wanted to let everyone know that Stacy has been taken back to the OR. The surgeon came in and said that the first part should be finished around 4:30. We will post updates as we get them. There has been much laughter in the hours leading up to saying goodbye at the OR door. We praise God for those precious moments! We humbly ask you to petition our mighty Heavenly Father for peace and comfort for Stacy as she had to go back into the OR alone. Also, please continue to pray for the lymph nodes to come back clear and for clarity of mind and steady hands for the doctors.

Thank you,

Beth

Update as of 6:30PM

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 15, 2010)

Hello friends,

After a long day of waiting, the surgeon just met with us. Stacy's masectomy went as well as it could, she is in reconstruction now and doing fine. She will then move to recovery and hopefully we will get to see her after recovery by about 8/9PM. The surgeon shared that upon looking at the breast and nodes, they appeared to the eye healthy. As they came back from pathology however, markers for cancer were shown in the nodes which lead her to continue on and remove all of the nodes on the right side. We will not have a full picture of the treatment ahead until the full pathology report comes back and meetings with the oncologists over the next few weeks. 

Even though the news of some cancer in the nodes is not what we wanted to hear, we continue to just trust and know that our God is in control and knows every detail. 

Please continue to pray for Stacy and Barclay. They thankfully just gave permission to Barclay to spend the night with her even though that is not normally allowed. We will pray for a quick recovery, no infection, wisdom for all of the doctors involved and for Stacy and Barclay, minimal pain and above all the peace that only our God can give...in the midst of beautiful circumstances, but miraculously in the pain and mystery as well.

We serve a beautiful God and know that His love is surrounding her. Thank you for your continued prayers and care and we will update tomorrow if there is anything else to share before Stacy can get back to the keyboard here. Most likely you will hear from her right away!

In His Love,

Beth and Heather (Stacy's sister)

 

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we 

Update for 7/16/10

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 17, 2010)

Hello family and friends,

I apologize for the quiteness of Stacy's blog yesterday. It was certainly not from a lack of anything to report, as it was a very busy day for Stacy. Pain management was the big issue her first night. She realized that every 3 hours of pain meds were not enough, so she was moved to every 2 hours which seemed to help quite a bit. Her day started out with Devotions with Barclay. I look forward to the day she can post about this...what an incredible way God had showed up! Stacy's day was filled with many visitors. Family, friends, doctors, cancer support personnel...even her OBGYN, Dr. Mansfield, stopped down in the middle of deliveries to give Stacy encouragement! What a blessing this was for Stacy to have such support from everyone. Even those of you who are unable to visit she feels and appreciates the prayers being lifted up on her behalf, so please keep them coming! Stacy also made huge steps toward recovery. She was able to get out of bed and sit in a chair, she took a very short walk in the hallway, and was able to dress in her own pajamas! The doctors and nurses want her up and moving as this aids in the healing process. Stacy and Barclay have been so blessed by such a compassionate group of doctors that are taking care of her. When her surgeon, who performed the mastectomy, came in to check on her and to tell her exactly what happened during the surgery, you could see the disappointment in her eyes and voice over the pathology results. As she thought the sentinel nodes would be benign by looking at and feeling them. Then to get the pathology results saying that there were traces of cancer cells in them...she was shocked. However, as we know, God is so much bigger than this and we praise Him that now there is no question as to whether or not Stacy will need chemo. That decision would have been a difficult one...do I have chemo anyway just in case?...God has answered that for her, and she has peace in His decision. We also praise Him that only traces were found which tells Stacy that this cancer was found very early. Another wonderful event took place as well. In an attempt to switch over to oral medications she had to try to get some food down. This was not an easy task for Stacy, as it made her quite nauseous. She did eventually manage to eat a small cup of pudding and even had a chocolate milkshake later in the afternoon. When I spoke with her last night she was going to attempt to eat a meal that her family brought from home! All in all I think it was a good day for Stacy. Every person that came into the room kept saying that each day she will feel better than the day before, so may that be a prayer from each of you. The day ended with a visit from more family and her precious children. Could I humbly ask that you would also lift up her children in prayer as they deal with seeing their mother lying in a hospital bed and all the emotions that come from that. Please pray that the angels of the Lord would encamp around them and protect their precious hearts. I praise God that they are incredibly strong children with a strong foundational faith. They truly are amazing children! I'm sure as soon as Stacy is able she will be sharing and posting all the incredible ways God has shown up the past few days. His work is evident, His goodness is seen in so many ways! Please continue to lift up this dear family in prayer and petition our Heavenly Father to go before them and set their paths straight, so that they may be confident in each step they need to take.

Thank you and God bless,
Beth

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14

His Faithfulness and the Notion of Divine Control

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 17, 2010)

Throughout the Old Testament and into the New, God reminds us that He will never leave us or forsake us. He is always present. He is active. He is working on our behalf....everyday. He doesn't take a vacation. He doesn't even stop to sleep. I take great comfort in this. Jesus is not at an arms distance from me. He is ever-present in my life. He is with me and these last two days in the hospital, He has been carrying me while showing me His faithfulness and love over and over again. I rejoice in the God of my salvation. My deliverer, My strength. As I am living out 2 Corinthians 12:10, "When I am weak, then He is strong." I praise Him as He has continued to show Himself strong and working on my behalf. Painting a picture with my life that far exceeds anything my mind can comprehend.

As I shared in a post on Thursday morning, getting ready to be wheeled back to the operating room.....how God had ministered to my heart the previous evening and then into the morning Matthew 7:11, Jeremiah 29:11 and Psalm 46:10...

I awoke early yesterday morning (Friday) in my hospital bed. My mind was a bit foggy from the night before and my body felt run over by a mack truck. My sweet husband, had roomed in with me (as He is peacefully sleeping on a cot beside me right now). It was about 5:30 AM and I was wide awake. I whispered to Him in an effort to wake him up, as I so desperately wanted to talk through the day before. The details as He experienced them. We began whispering together and replaying the moments from the previous day, as there were a lot of sketchy details in my head. (I'm on a lot of pain medication, so bear with me even today if I don't make complete sense!)

Barclay asked if I wanted to pray and have devotions together. In the still, quietness of my hospital room, He pulled out His Bible and a devotional by Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest." As his fingers found the date at the top of the page...July 16th, and His eyes began to scan over the verse and commentary for this day.....Here was the title:

July 16
The Notion of Divine Control

Matthew 7:11 “How much more shall your Father which in in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?”

Wow....Barclay and I just locked eyes and hearts again, as we marveled at God's faithfulness. The reminder again from His Word that God gives "good" gifts. The very same verse He had ministered to my heart the day before, was yet again before me. A reminder of God's provision, his faithfulness and the intimacy we have as we abide with Him. I believe there are no coincidences in life. Everything: every event, every detail, every loss, every gain, everything is either from God's hand or allowed into our hand. As God has allowed cancer into my life, as He allowed cancer to be found in my lymph nodes....He is the giver of good gifts. If cancer will allow me to know my heavenly Father more deeply.....then isn't it a good gift? If cancer will grow us closer together as a family, isn't it a good gift? If cancer has allowed us to see God working on our behalf, then it is in fact, a good gift!

As Chambers writes: "Jesus is laying down rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit. By the simple argument of these verses He urges us to keep our minds filled with the notion of God’s control behind everything, which means that the disciples must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Notion your mind with the idea that God is there. If once the mind is notioned along that line, then when you are in difficulties it is as easy as breathing to remember - Why my Father knows all about it! It is not an effort, it comes naturally when perplexities press. Before, you used to go to this person and that, but now the notion of the Divine control is forming so powerfully in you that you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit, and it works on this principle - God is my Father. He loves me. I shall never think of anything He will forget, why should I worry?

There are times, says Jesus, when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but trust Him. God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural Father, but He is not. He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the notion of the mind of God behind all things strong and growing. Nothing happens in any particular unless God’s will is behind it, therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it shall be given you.”

And so this morning, as I awake to yet another day.....I am asking God to show Himself strong on my behalf. I am rejoicing in His Faithfulness and grace. The pain of the surgery is so present with me. I can't raise my arms, my chest is bound tightly and to take a deep breath takes effort accompanied with pain. When I get out of bed, I feel like I have heavy sandbags hanging over my shoulders, weighing me down, and I have four drains hanging from under my arms collecting all the excess fluid from the surgery. But yet, my thoughts are continually being brought to the throne of grace in praise and thanksgiving for God's faithfulness, His divine control.

As I so didn't want to be alone , God surrounded me with His love in many tangible ways and brought many in and out of my hospital room door who were His hands and feet to me. Thank you to all who visited me yesterday. I think I am going home tomorrow morning, so anyone who would like to stop by today, is more than welcome. Thank you for your ongoing prayers. 

 

Much love,

Stacy

 

Home

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 19, 2010)

Surgical Care Room #19, another stepping stone on this journey of breast cancer. A stopping place for many a friendly face during those three days. A hospital room, but also my temporary home as my recovery began. 

One of our prayers going into surgery was that God would grant me a private room so my husband could spend the nights with me. A simple prayer, but a heart desire of mine. God answered. And not only did He answer, but He went above and beyond surrounding me with so many friendly faces, compassionate nurses and gentle hands.

As I've said before, I've prayed that God would show me His fingerprints on each step of this journey. Nothing is an accident. It all comes from the hand of God with a purpose. The day began around 8:30 down in Ambulatory Care. Barclay and my friend, Beth, stood by myside as they started my IV, and went through my admission questions. We all had a chukle when my nurse asked if I had had any previous surgeries and I answered , "Yes, 6 c-sections." She stopped in her tracks and laughingly said, "You're the one!" I guess my baby delivery reputation has preceeded me!

I was transported up to radiology where I was injected with radioactive dye that would help my breast surgeon identify my lymph nodes during surgery. That part was a piece of cake. A couple of short needle pricks and within 10 minutes we were done. Back down to ambulatory care we went to await my 1:00 surgery time. 

Barclay called my sister, Heather and my dad who were waiting at home for the ok to come to the hospital. We assembled our own little pre-surgery party complete with hospital gowns, surgical gloves, hospital beds and ice chips. (sounds like a party you want to attend, huh??) I think laughter is medicine for the soul. We had our own little party in my tiny cubicle while passing the time. 

My sister, Heather, who is anything but a nurse....I think she gets queasy when medical terms are even being discused, had to turn her head on many a conversation. She immersed herself in her new iphone to tune herself out. Of course, we thought it only appropriate to give her a hard time. She played the part well, as you can see from the picture below, although I never really got that foot massage. We laughed, and joked, we played on our electronic equipment, and joked about the "new me." I think the nursing staff must have thought were were crazy!

And then 1:00 approached and my transport tech emerged around the curtain. The gravity of the moment descended and my heart quickly changed its beat. Tears welled in my eyes as I knew I was entering the passageway that would forever alter my physical body. The ride down the hallways to the Operating room began. The pressure inside of me was building. But God granted us a nurse that had been transporting for over 30 years. She was an angel and brought ease and calm through a tense passageway. We arrived upstairs and as we exited the elevator, I asked her if we could have a moment to pray. It was a beautiful moment. My husband, my sister, dad, and Beth all came around me on the guerny, laid hands on me and ushered me to the throne of grace of our Heavenly Father. We asked for divine healing, for protection, we prayed for the doctor's and staff, for an uncomplicated surgery. We prayed that we would be witnesses to the love of Christ to others and thanked God for this day. This day that he ordained and had He made. With a tear streaked face, a peaceful heart, and one last gaze into the eyes of my beloved.....I was wheeled through the OR doors. 

And that transport tech....she told me that she was blessed that day. That God had ministered to her heart and filled her to an overflowing that day....as she was in the presence of the Lord and able to partake of our prayers being lifted up to God. She asked me if my husband was a pastor. And I told her no, He was just a man who loved the Lord. As she brought me to my final stopping point before the surgical room, she leaned over, kissed me and asked if she could give me a hug. My heart was overjoyed again at the goodness of my God. His faithfulness. He was not only holding my hand, but pouring out onto others. He is a God without partiality, whose compassions are for everyone. He is a God who takes a loaf of bread and shares it with everyone......and the bread never runs out. There is abundance. This woman walked away beaming and shaking her head in awe of our God, who I believe is her God too.....another professed believer in Jesus Christ. 

The next beautiful face I saw was a lady from church, Heather....who is a surgical OR nurse. She held my hand and stood next to me introducing me to the staff that she had selected to be with me in the OR...many of which were believers. One by one they came to my bedside. Some bringing laughter, some bringing their own stories of cancer, giving me opportunity to share God's love with them. And then Dr. Chang made one last stop by before my time of waiting had come to an end. They gave me some sedation, wheeled me into the OR and off I went to sleep. That was the last I remembered. 

As I awoke in recovery, again, God never leaved me abandoned. Through more friendly faces and connections, my husband was allowed back into recovery room even though that is not the norm. He was able to caress my hair and cheek, give me the news that the lymph nodes had cancer, but reassured me again of God's control. With Christ, we will get through this cancer. Around 9:00PM, I was brought to surgical care unit 19 which would be my home for the next 3 days. 

I don't remember much that night. Some friends came and went, but my pain drugs were rather significant so all is a little fuzzy. My pastor came and prayed over me and annointed me with oil. My husband held my hand and prayed. And sleep overcame me as i was washed with the comfort of the Holy Spirit. 

I cherished the next two days. I was blessed to have my Aunt Kay, a breast cancer survivor, sit with me in addition to my Aunt Pam, who both serve as second mother's to me. I didn't even have to ask and they were there for me. My sister, Heather, from Texas had given up a previously scheduled weekend in California for a home business seminar to be by my side in support and my dad drove up by himself on Wednesday night from NY to be waiting for me following surgery, and then Barclay's parent's came in Thursday from Virginia to shower me and my family with love. I watched everyone give so selflessly of themselves. I was loved, I was made to feel special and I didn't even have to ask. They all took turns between staying home with the children and sitting by my side. 

My children came to visit on Friday evening and see that their momma was hurting, but bouncing back quickly. What a breath of fresh air to wrap my arms around their sweet bodies and kiss their precious heads. To give them a squeeze and bring them in close to me. 

Friends came and went throughout the day, to sit with me, laugh together, talk through the surgery, answer questions, pray together and share God's Word. I was ushered again and again to the Lord's feet. 

 

My aides brought me smoothies from the labor and delivery floor. They made me a milkshake, as I had trouble keeping most food down, let alone not even having an appetite. They just loved on me and for that I say thank you. And my most favorite nurse, Courtney, was another gift from my Father. She was my day nurse each day and really helped me work through the pain meds that would suit me the best going home. She was a dream. Thank you, Courtney!! I love you. 

DSC_0669.JPG

And so yesterday evening, I arrived home. I have been pretty wiped out and on a cocktail of narcotics, anti-nausea meds, valium for the muscle spasms, and and anti-inflamatory. Precious friends have helped today with the kids, giving them a change of scenery and distractions with their friends. The visiting nurse came today to go over my care. Hands have so graciously brought us meals every evening for dinner. My Aunt Kay will be here until Thursday morning and then my mother in law will come and pick up where my aunt left off. I am truly humbled to be the recipient of God's love. 

I go back to my plastic surgeon (Dr. Singer) on Thursday and hope to have at least one set of my surgical drains removed from my sides. He will start to fill up the expanders with saline the following week. I will also begin meeting with medical and radiation oncologists the following week, so that we can begin to make those decisions. The pain is coming somewhat under control. It is hard keeping this girl down, but in all honesty, I am so tired, that the quiet time has been welcomed. 

We should hear either tomorrow or Wednesday what the final pathology report will show regarding the cancer on my lymph nodes and exactly how many nodes were included. This will be the final information we take with us to the oncologists. I think sometimes we tend to fear information because of its finality, but with information also comes choices. With this next round of information, we will know what our chemo/radiation choices are. I am glad to have the surgery behind me and now, I pray that Go will equip me and strengthen me for the next step on this road. 

Much love,

Stacy

One Week Later...I press on

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 22, 2010)

"....that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith....that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.........not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on...."Philippians 3:8-12

Oh how those words of Paul speak to my heart this week. I press on. It has been an ongoing phrase for me as I've navigated these cancer waters....I press on. I'm not a girl who often wants to look back, make excuses or wallow in pain and heartache. I press on, looking ahead trusting again that God has something so beautiful in store. So Paul's words hit me today in the core of my heart. "Lord, I want to know you more. I want to be found in you, rooted, established, settled, loved, secure. I want to rest in you and your beauty. Your holiness. Your power and your Truth. 

It's been a week. Hard to believe that this time last Thursday I was out of surgery and in my room. It is all so foggy, so I thank God for these pages where i can piece together the thought threads that are weaving together my tapestry. That in pressing on, I can look back with joy, even today at where God has brought me in this week. The touches I've experienced from so many lives of people brought around me. Lives that i have had the privilege to encounter. 

A week ago.....out of surgery, breasts removed, expanders in, and lymph nodes being sent to the lab to be scrutinized under a microscope, as we awaited the last pieces of information that would define my cancer. That would determine my treatment plan. 

It has been a week of newness. A new 'altered' body. Remembering the first day the nurse came in to change my gauze pads. I had been wound tightly with an ace bandage around a therapeutic bra. She needed to change the gauze pads. I was afraid to look. Afraid to look down under the dressings at what I would see. Who is this new me? The tears welled up in my eyes, but the realization flooded over me that I haven't changed. My body can change. My breasts can be bigger, they can be smaller, but they don't define me. God does. Surgery, cancer, chemo, radiation....it can alter me, but it can't take me. 

It has been a week with a new perspective on life and health. A new compassion for those facing breast cancer. A new realization of physical pain and the anticipation that my next dose of pain meds was around the corner bringing relief. Pain that went beyond what I have ever experienced. A tightness that would grab ahold of my chest as if a boa constrictor was squeezing the air out of me. Pain in my right armpit that would pierce through my underarm and radiate down the sides of my chest wall. The peace that would wash over me as the nurses would gently bring me my next dose of pain med that would temporarily give relief for sleep. 

A new "foggy" narcotic brain....I'm usually on top of things and now the routine question is "Did I tell you this already?" "Have we already talked about this?" "I can't remember." The newness of surgical drains (2 on each side of my armpits) that allow the excess fluid to filter out of my body for healing and the routine that is added to my day of emptying and measuring them three times a day. The newness of fatigue that quickly envelops me where I have no choice but to be still and close my eyes, even if for a brief moment. The newness of cancer. 

But with this thing called cancer and this past week, I have been blessed beyond measure. In all the newness, I've experienced the love of so many family and friends. People that I have let into the intimate moments of my life and the new physical me. Those who have laughed with me, cried with me and held my hands. Those precious friends who knowing I didn't want to be alone, gently knocking on my door, entering in and just praying with me. Words didn't even need to be spoken. The sweet friend who brought me a smoothie.....knowing I was having trouble eating much of anything else and knowing that would hit the spot. The gentle caress of a dear sister's hand against mine. My sweet and precious children coming and hugging me and bringing me get well cards. And sweet little Jed wanting to get up on bed next to me and snuggle in for but a moment. 

Beautiful friends who offered to take our three oldest boys on Saturday to their dirtbikerace, so Barclay could stay with me. And throughout the day, as I'm not a momma who misses a race easily.....this dear friend emailed and texted me updates throughout the morning. The friends that pushed through the awkward, silent moments to really see how I was doing. My dear friend brushing my hair, just that simple act of compassion as I couldn't raise the brush to do it myself. Those who just sat with me, even while I drifted in and out of sleep. And then my husband grabbing ahold of my hand and walking me down the hall and outside onto a small patio as we sat in the hot sun thanking God for our marriage, our love, our lives. The beauty on Sunday morning, as Barclay laid next to me just laying my hand in his, telling me he loved me, no matter what...the new altered body.....didn't matter. He loved me. Together, by God's grace we will make it to the other side. So, together, we press on. 

I am so blessed and thankful. It has been a week of many blessing us with meals, gift bags, flowers, emails, visits and cards. And it has been a week of waiting, again for the final report. 

Since I wasn't allowed to shower fully, per doctor's orders......my hair was in desperate need of being washed. We weren't sure how this would be accomplished due to my pain level and limited mobility. It had also been since early April since I had my hair cut and highlighted. As one who is difficult to sit still, I called my hairdresser and my aunt graciously took me to get a hair wash and quick cut. I have been reluctant to get it cut, not knowing how much longer I would even have my hair, and not really wanting to spend the money if it was all coming off. Well, I succumbed and whereas was totally exhausted after that appointment, boy did I feel like a new woman. 

And then today....the final news was delivered. I went to see my plastic surgeon this morning to see how I was doing and have two of my drains removed. He was quite pleased with my healing so far. I must also say, upon looking at my breasts again, without any saline yet, I actually have some form and shape. It made us all laugh as I can only imagine what I'll look like in 6 weeks after the filling draws to an end. Let's just say, I'm certainly not looking to draw attention, but a little cleavage would be nice. I'm being assured by my lovely plastic surgeon that that will be doable. We have to laugh, don't we!! At the end of the day all that really matters is my overall health, but to have a perky 18 year old body again in one area...well, I'm not complaining. :) 

I then received the call this afternoon from my breast surgeon. Here is the low down: cancer was found in 2 of my lymph nodes. I think she said 9 were taken out. The two that had cancer were sentinel nodes, so good that the cancer hasn't gone any further. But on each node the cancer was approximately 4mm...a little bigger than she had hoped. They also found a small pre-cancerous non-invasive spot called DCIS 1mm from my chest wall. Other than that, nothing new found in the breast tissue and overall, she was pleased. Her part is now pretty much done. I will meet with her again next Friday.

The rest of the day was filled with phone calls between my breast care coordinator scheduling appointments for the next two weeks. On Wednesday, back to Dr. Singer (plastic surgeon), on Thursday, 2:00 appointment with our first radiation oncologist, Friday, Dr. Chang (breast surgeon), July 5th, 2:00 with Dr. Cheryl Johnson, Medical Oncologist, Friday, August 6th, Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, Paoli Hospital Medical Oncologist. Then we will also have a consult with Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia with both Medical and radiation oncologists to get one final opinion. We are waiting for that date. We will gather all the information and pray that God brings clarity to the decision for my treatment plan. That He makes the pathway easy to navigate. 

And we press on through Jesus Christ....next step to treatment before us. 

I pray that as you walk along this journey with me, you know that I hold each of you dear to my heart. I don't claim for a moment to have any of this figured out. Daily there is some fear, there is some anxiety due to all the uncertainties, there are tears, there is frustration, there is pain, both physical and emotional.....but one thing I hold true is that I do not waiver....in the love of Christ and the power of God that rests upon me. I choose Him. I surrender to Him. I cling to Him and call out to Him to deliver me from all the emotions that quickly flood my mind. And that is where I am finding victory. He is giving me the grace to stand. He is putting the smile on my face. Whatever you are going through right now, His grace is available to you too. It is available to all. 

"So I say to you, ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened unto you." Luke 11:9

"Jesus said, I am the way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

I'm not kidding myself, this cancer thing....it is hard! It stinks. But through the grace of God, I will press on. I will stand victorious. I will look to Him and give Him the glory. Thank you for pressing on and standing strong with me. 

Much love,

Stacy

 

The Simple Things

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 25, 2010)

A shower. So simple, yet right now so complicated. I'll caution as I write that I may be a bit more graphic than usual.....G rated, of course, but some of the intimate details of breast cancer and lymph node surgery will follow. 

Some may laugh, but the whole process of showering, doing your hair, make-up, shaving etc., etc....has never really been something that I look forward to each day. Don't get me wrong, cleanliness is very important and so, of course, the process ensues most days...can't say everyday, but most. But when bathing takes every ounce of energy you have and requires a lot of prep-work just to step foot into the shower, it takes on a whole new meaning.

For the three days in the hospital, there was no showering. I was bandaged tightly around my chest, on drugs that made me unstable and pain that was pretty close to an 8 or 9. I can't remember which day it was, probably day two, when Beth, who now has probably seen more of me than she would really like to, helped give me a sponge bath. It felt like heaven. Ahh, to be cleaned. There was no hair washing, mind you, but just the wash rag on my arms and legs soothed my tired and aching body. 

Home I went on Sunday, with instructions that none of my incisions, stitches or drainage holes were to get wet. That pretty much took care of the area from below my neck to my hips. My Aunt Kay came up with the brilliant idea to cut a hole in a tall white trash bag, wear it as a dress and take a shower. You can stop laughing now.....it's ok....it really was quite a sight. Needless to say, that was my first real shower about 6 days after surgery. Again, hair was not allowed to get wet, as you couldn't let any dirt get near the suture sights or run down your body. To say it was relaxing and invigorating would be quite a stretch, but soap and water hit my body for some brief moments. 

Going into the surgery, I had been told about these lovely drains that would be a part of my "new" body for about 2 weeks following surgery. They were described to me by my plastic surgeon, as looking like "grenades." I wasn't too sure how to take that. But that in fact is a pretty accurate description. I went home with four of them, two on each side, as you can see below. Again, I'm sorry, if it is more than you'd like to see. It is one of the facts of breast cancer surgery. They come out from just below my underarm and the tubing is pinned to the side of my bra. They have to be emptied and measured about 3x per day. Thankfully, my aunt was right on this and then my dear husband picked up upon her departure.

I have a wonderful friend, who went through breast cancer about 5 years ago, (another survivor, Amen, Amen!!) and she passed on the wonderful advice about post-op clothing for drains. She lovingly told me to go out and buy a couple of men's style, button up oxford dress shirts. It is too hard to put things over your head at this stage of recovery, and the baggy dress shirts hide the grenades. It was wonderful advice. Kind of like the advice your may have received before delivering your first baby and naively thinking you will go home in your pre-pregnancy jeans. That never happened to me. I still looked pregnant for about 6 weeks following birth and wore my maternity clothes. These just aren't the details that your breast surgeon (or OBGYN) passes along. So, I was quite grateful for the advice and even more ecstatic when The Gap had a whole slew of ladies dress shirts on clearance right before surgery! Thanks Hillary!

Last Friday, when I had my first post-op appointment with Dr. Singer, two drains were removed. Whoo hoo! The plan is to have the final two removed this Wednesday. 

So, back to the simple things, well the drains make showering a bit more complicated. 

Tonight, showering was undertaken once again and it just wasn't so simple. Prior to the shower, I went through the 8 or so exercises that I have to do each day to regain range of motion in my arms, enough so I can do the "touchdown" as my surgeon so comically calls it. That would be arms straight and raised above my head. Yes, I know, so simple, but yeah, can't do it yet. Well, silly me who goes for the gusto, undertook these exercises, which stretch, pull and hurt every muscle you possibly have in your pecs, your triceps, your back, your diaphragm, and throughout your rib cage......muscles I didn't even know I had and I used to lift weights regularly! 

I, of course, had my usual cocktail (as I call it... which again is comical as I don't really drink), of pain meds before beginning the exercises....Percocet, Valium, and Annaprox(spelling?). For someone who use to run 4 miles, and weight train.....these post-op exercises are like going back to Kindergarten, but yet not ready to graduate. They hurt and success if far off. 

Then my husband, who I can't say enough wonderful and beautiful things about.....creatively helped me get that shower thing underway. The tricky task being what to do with the drains?This time, I could wash my hair and be fully under the running shower water. I was pretty excited about this shower. In walks my husband with an athletic necklace that usually holds a whistle. You know the kind a ref wears to ref a basketball game. The whistle was removed and the thing that you press in on the end to hold the ring of the whistle remained. Well, that became my drain holder. Around the neck went the necklace adorned with my drains. Yes, he is an engineer, so was quite proud to have come up with this solution and I was all the more grateful to just be under that running water. 

What takes the normal person about 10-15 minutes took me about an hour. It was painful again from both the physical side as you can't even imagine the number of muscles that hurt, even to the touch, and then to see my body: the scars, the stitches, the drainage holes, the rash that I had gotten from the surgical bra, the tendon that is so stretched and taut under my right armpit (where the lymph node surgery took place).......I was thoroughly exhausted by the time I was done. It felt good to be clean, though. To have shaved my legs, and under at least one arm....can't shave under the surgical one yet (that's pretty!) and to have clean hair. I asked my husband to rub some cream over my back, but even as he touched the top part between my shoulder blades, the pain from his touch was too much to bear. So many muscles are involved in this process of healing. 

And as he helped put me back together, and dry my hair.....I thought of how I have taken for granted these simple things. These things that for many on a daily basis, aren't so simple. I thought of my mom who is paralyzed on her left side and the simple act of putting on a bra takes many, many minutes not seconds like the rest of us. I thought of those in a wheelchair who can't even stand themselves, and those in other countries who don't even have clean running water to bathe with. Each day gets a little better. I have a little more energy and a little less pain. This too shall pass. I again and again am reminded to look up and not in. As I got into bed, so thankful that the showering process was over for a couple more days, my oldest son, Ben, knocked on the bedroom door and asked to come in. I don't know if it was the look on my face, I don't know if it was God prompting his tender, compassionate heart, but he walked over to the side of the bed and gave me a kiss on my cheek. The simple things. The love of a child. The gift of life. The beauty that God will bring from this thing called cancer. I looked into my teenager's eyes and said "thank you, son. I love you." 

You know what. We all go through trials in many different ways. I'll say it again and again, I don't have the answers. I don't have "it all together." But I serve a God who does. I serve a God who told us in Hebrews 12 "to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us and to run with endurance the race that is set before us. " And He gave us the example to follow....."looking unto Jesus" the author and the finisher of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down a the right hand of the throne of God." That joy was knowing that through His pain, His persecution, His death and resurrection....His obedience to His Father....He would rejoice in that many would be saved. I am reminded to "look unto Jesus." The shower, the pain, the process, the surgery, the scars, upcoming treatment.....all of it I can either choose to dwell on and be miserable, shout and scream and let anger take up residence...or I can look unto Jesus, submit under His mighty and loving hand and have joy. 

I recently heard some words of wisdom saying, "you can't gain endurance unless you endure." You can't run a marathon, unless you endure the training needed to get you to the finish line. You can't hold a hard earned diploma or master's degree in your hand, unless you've endured the classes and coursework that brought you to that place. We all have something to endure and God tells us in James that patience or endurance will be produced as our faith is tested and tried through trials. That we will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Not perfect as the world defines it. But perfect as a believer and lover of Jesus Christ desiring to please my Father, submit to His plan, trust in His love and be guided by His Word. A believer growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and being conformed to his image. I want my faith to be tried and tested and to cross that finish line into the arms of my Father hearing Him say, "well done good and faithful servant." I desire for many to cross that finish line with me and hear the same words. So, I choose to endure. I choose to take the not so simple things as they come and "look unto Jesus" to bring me through. 

Much love,

Stacy

It Was A Hard Night

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 26, 2010)

It was a hard night...or shall I say wee hours of the morning. I ask for your prayers today. So many of you have shared that you are praying and I truly believe in accordance with James 5:16 "that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." Your prayers are carrying me. I thank you from the uttermost part of my heart. Please pray for God's strength for me today. 

Yesterday, despite the physical pain running through my body, I so desired to be among the fellowship of the saints. To go to church and sit in His sanctuary of praise. To sit under Pastor Chris's teaching, to be near all of my brother's and sister's in the Lord. As I've shared before, I'm not a loner. I love fellowship. I love to be gathered together with those I love. I love the body of Christ. 

So, with pain meds armed and ready, off we went, with the realization that I would only last for so long. After awhile, the Valium starts to make my eyes heavy, the body gets tired and I knew I would need to quietly slip out the back door. I jokingly said to my husband before entering church, "please, let's try to quietly slip in and slip out." As he opened the sanctuary doors and lead our line of 7 down the aisle....he kept going....and going and going all the way to about the fourth row. I about died thinking, "this is not what I meant about slip in and slip out!!" But it all faded away as once again, I was ushered to Jesus's feet in worship and praise and it was as if I was standing at the throne of God, just me and Him, with my eyes closed and heart crying out.

It was such a treat for me to get so many hello's, hugs and smiles and be able to reconnect with so many of you. 

As we had pulled into the parking lot that morning, I had seen a special acquaintance entering the back door, and was reminded that her bridal shower was being held that afternoon. In the myriad of surgery, doctor's appointments, fuzzy brain and just being outside of my normal routine, I had totally forgotten of this date. Oh, how I wanted to go and love on her in support of this most precious day celebrating her upcoming union with the other half God has designed just for her. I quickly called a close friend of mine, who again, by the grace of God was leaving to get this precious one a shower gift and again so graciously agreed to let me go in with her on the gift. One less thing to do, and one more passageway for me to attend. She also offered to be my transportation, as I still can't drive. Another sweet gift from God. He had made the way possible to attend that afternoon. 

So, I came home from church pretty tired physically, but rejuvenated spiritually. I slipped into bed needing to regain strength for the afternoon. Another dear friend stopped by later that afternoon, to say hello. She was a ray of sunshine. 

4:00 hit and again armed and ready with my pain meds, I was off. It is actually nice to add a little bit of normalcy back into this life that has begun to revolve around doctor's appointments, resting, medicine schedules, and pain from healing that is constantly before me. I stayed a little longer than intended, but so loved to once again be among my sisters in the Lord. I loved hearing about their lives, being surrounded by laughter, to join hearts as a large group of women praying over this new to be bride and just to have fun. 

The day held more than I have done in the last two weeks. But was so thankful to partake. I quickly retired back to my bed upon returning home. I drifted in and out of sleep from about 7:00 on. Barclay gave me my final round of pain meds around 11:00 PM or so and I assumed the new sleeping position....flat on my back. Due to the two drains on either side of me and the pain in my chest, I can't change position when I'm sleeping. It is quite a sight as I've got pillows piled behind me, pillows under my right arm where I had the lymph nodes removed and for the most part, God has given me restful nights. 

Well, I awoke at 4:45 AM with pain and aches so intense, all I could do was cry out to God to take the pain away. If you've ever been put on bedrest with a pregnancy, maybe you can kind of relate...the body just doesn't want to stay in one position. I remember being on bedrest with 3 of my pregnancies and the pains that would take up residence in my body from lack of movement were intense. At least with pregnancy, you could roll from the left to the right and get a slight change. In the wee hours, I just sat on the side of my bed and cried. It hurt from the middle of my shoulder blades down to the small of my back. I stood up. I sat down. I laid back down. I considered just getting up and going downstairs, but was so tired and weak. And finally I had to wake Barclay for more meds. He laid his hand on me and prayed that God would just take the pain away and give me strength. He got the heating pad, rearranged the pillows so I could sleep upright, put a pillow under my knees to relieve the back pressure and some relief followed. Thankfully, I drifted back off to sleep until about 8:00 this morning. 

Not sure the take home message and maybe there doesn't need to be one. There are going to be the good days and the bad days. I'm really trying to take it easy and let my body heal. For those of you who know me well, know that I don't stay down easily. But I have never felt pain as I have with this surgery and recovery, and so with this surgery, I have easily retreated to my bed thus far. I definitely did more yesterday than I have since surgery, but I think the movement was good, as the bed is not so welcoming anymore and I don't think our bodies were made to be stationary. But I felt like I had hit a wall, literally and figuratively. 

I am up at my desk this morning, which feels good. But I am tired. So, I ask you to please pray for me today. Please pray for strength and endurance today. Please pray for the pain to be relieved and for my body to heal. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

And on a separate note, thank you all for your encouraging words through email and FB. You bring tears to my eyes as you share the encouragement that God is bringing you through me (by the power of the Holy Spirit) in your own trials. I know He has so much to teach me and already has been through the daily struggles and surrendering of my will, and through the pain. And I praise Him that He is ministering to your hearts through my feeble words and open heart. (I warned you that you probably would learn more about me than maybe you would care too!!) 

There is no mask. There is no barrier. This is me. This is who I am in Christ. Outside of Him, I am ugly, I am weak, I am can't run the race. This is the cross that He has asked and allowed me to carry and we each have a cross. Let us together take up our crosses in surrender to the God who made us and the God who sustains us and follow Him. 

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Matthew 16:24

God gave us relationships. God gave us community. God made us to love. It is a privilege for me to share my journey with each of you. It is even more humbling to know that anyone is actually reading. As I pray anytime before I teach the Thursday women's Bible Study, "Lord, may you hide me behind the cross of Jesus Christ. May my words be Your words. May You, Lord, be seen and not me. May you touch the hearts of those listening and give to us intimately from your hand. " That is my prayer. I love you all.

Much love,

Stacy

 

Snip its from the last two days

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 27, 2010)

Here's some quick updates from the last two days....I say quick, but if you've followed along with me so far, you know I'm not a lady of few words....sorry! I really try to edit, but not one of my gifts. See...there I go again. I like details. If you sit with me over a cup of coffee and listen to me tell a story, well, you get the details and sometimes too many. I like to see the whole picture. I like to hear descriptions. I like to visualize the event......I'll stop now, you get the picture. :)

Quick snip-its from a day in the new breast cancer life: Mon & Tues:

Thank you for your prayers. God continues to sustain, but for some reason wants me awake at night and a bit uncomfortable. Last night, meds at 2:00AM due to pain and then up at 6:00...but had sweet quiet time with God on my front porch in the early morning hours. He spoke to my heart and really what more can a girl ask for? :)

I'm not looking forward to going to bed tonight, but will take 2 Percocet and a full Valium (trying so hard to wean and cut my dosages down.. Have success during the day, but not yet at night.) Praying for restful sleep.

Mother-in-law (Janet) is here for the week and has been such a blessing: cleaning, doing laundry (which BTW never ends around here with 7 people changing clothes each day). I think she's probably done more laundry this week than she has in the last 3 months as an empty nester....but she's a trooper and I am so grateful. 

Delicious meals continue to come to my door every night for which I am so humbled, appreciative and overcome with your generosity. I can't wait to be able to do things again (cook and clean) with my right arm, and lift, reach, cut, saute, and put a meal on the table, but for now will graciously accept from the loving hands of those around me.

All 5 of our children went to friend's today and are spending the night there. The house was quiet for the day. I miss their laughter and noise, but have been so tired, that it was a welcomed quietness. Thank you precious friends for loving my children and blessing us this way.

My friend, Beth came over this morning to help set up a website for those of you offering to come and clean and just take care of the running of my house. Again, in awe of each of you. Words cannot begin to express. Thanks to Beth, website up and running. But wore me out and I didn't even do any of the work!

Crawled into bed around 2:30 and slept until 5:ooish. 

My younger sister, Tasha (in California) has felt so far removed from being intimately involved in this new trial and journey. She has three under 5, recently moved to Cali due to hubby's law office opening new office and the miles are hard to travel with hubby's schedule and three small babes. 8 years ago, when we had our precious son, Joshua, Tash walked with me hand in hand for so much of his short life. I think she lived with us for almost 3 weeks during that time. It is hard to have so many miles separate us now. Thank God for technology, as we talk almost daily. Well, we were talking about my surgery the other day and she asked what "it" (let's call them Betty) look like? I asked her if she wanted me to take a picture and email it to her....thinking "could I really do that???" She cautiously said yes, she would like to see the Betties. Funny how the Betties were always something that were covered up and held up.....now seem to be open for public viewing. Dont' worry, these pictures won't be shared here. But they now are a hot topic of discussion and viewing. Oh how the private becomes public. Like I said....I'm an open book. My husband took the picture this evening and said it is a hard one to take. But I say, God tells us in Isaiah that He takes ashes and makes them beautiful. I am holding onto that one. :)

Tash is also going to help me with thank you cards, as she is a card and fine paper connoisseur. Together we are picking out the perfect cards (or she might make them...she is a creative genius and just as ambitious as the Browning crew comes.) We spent some time talking through this and figuring out how to make them personal. I am thrilled to have her help with these and she is thrilled that she can help this way while staying tucked in her Cali abode with her little ones, which is where she needs to be.

Tomorrow morning, (Wednesday) 8:3o AM, 2nd post op visit with Plastic surgeon, Dr. Singer. Lord willing, my last two drains will be removed and I will be free! I think my Betties are getting their first fill up. A little anxious about that. More pain? What will that feel like? Again, the unexpected. But we walk. How bad can it really be, right??

11:00AM, Wig salon appointment. This actually will be my third appointment. I've been to two other salons and this will be the last. Whole new world, this cancer thing. I'm still praying that chemo will not be a part of my protocol, as God can do anything, but trying to be prepared if in fact at this time next month, my head has no real hair. I will say little on this right now, as this has been a bit of a struggle for me. I've been asked by many, "will you wear scarves, a hat, stay bald, wear a wig?" I just don't know. One day at a time, but exploring my options.

I need another shower so badly, but just can't do it. Again, praying tomorrow I'm drain free and the showering will be a bit easier. Tonight, it is me and a washcloth and that will have to suffice. 

Thursday and Friday, more appointments. First radiation oncology appointment Friday and then post-op with breast surgeon, Dr. Chang, on Friday. 

Next week, 4 more docs in 5 days. By Friday 8/6, hope to have some sort of treatment plan. Praying that all 3 opinions are the same and God makes the decisions clear. That Barclay and I have unity. That He lights His mighty light on the next step.

I'll leave you with this. 

I am a woman who loves words and their definitions. Especially when I study to teach God's Word. I love to stop at words as they jump out at me from the Bible and look them up, not only in the dictionary, but in the original Greek or Hebrew language. I love to dig deeper into meanings and not miss a glimpse of what a word stands for or why it was chosen. 

My friend, Adrianne, gave me an early birthday present (in early May), right after I found the lump in my breast. It was this precious devotional written by Pastor Bob Coy (Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale). I have treasured it. She knows how much I love words. You see I have pages marked and if you opened it, you would see yet more underlining, markings and stars at places God has spoken to my heart. I'm not a big devotional kinda girl, as I like to just open God's Word and let Him speak to me from His divinely inspired words on the pages of the Bible. But this little book has been the beginning of my quiet times each morning since my cancer journey began, as a way to settle my heart, focus in on God before prayer and opening my Bible. If you look at the small print, it says, "Devotionary, A devotional with meaning." Each page is adorned with a heading and under the heading is Noah Webster's 1828 definition of that word. Love it!! 

Here is the passage I want to leave you with that I meditated on just the other day. Oh how God knows our needs, our hearts, our fears, our cries, our pain, our faith.....our times for refreshment. 

Refreshment

"The act of refreshing; new strength or vigor received after fatigue; relief after suffering."

Here is the verse that was shared: "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3:19 

Here is a part of the commentary:

If you think about it, summer for children represents the beginning of a new year. They have just completed their grade in school and are looking forward to an exciting interval of fun and recuperation. Summer is their time to shift gears, relax, experience new strength and vigor, and allow their minds and hearts to be refreshed in preparation for the new year ahead.

We might, along with the kids, take time to relax this summer. The Lord knows that we are in need of times of refreshing, and He gives us great insight into how we might best renew our body, soul and spirit. Don't let the words "repent" and "converted" in Acts 3:19 scare you away. They simply mean that we should turn away from our own plans to a plan that was designed for us before the foundations of the world. 

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

Bob Coy goes on to tell the story of Elijah. I urge you to go read it in 1 Kings 18 and 19. After a great demonstration of God's faithfulness and Elijah's trust in God, Elijah runs for his life at the hand of the woman Jezebel who then wants to take his life. 

And here is the picture of our loving God:

"Then as he (Elijah) lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly and angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat." Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you." So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. 1 Kings 19:5-9

God gives His children rest, nourishment, and protection. The Lord knows when you have reached the end of your rope. If you are in need of refreshing, let God feed you from His Word and provide shelter for your soul in prayer while you rest in the comfort of His care under the broom tree.

Oh how I feel like I am undertaking a "new year" in my walk with the Lord. This summer is not at all what I thought it would be. But it is what God knew I needed and what God is walking me through. He is sending down the angel of the Lord to give me food, for the journey is great. He is hiding me under His mighty and strong arms. He is giving me refreshment though the temperature is hot and the feet are weary. And though this refreshment might not be how I would have defined it back in early April as I longed for "my summer", as I am fatigued from this journey, I am finding nourishment from His Word, as I am suffering, He continues to bring relief. And in the end, I know that you and me, we are "His masterpieces." He is the potter and I am the clay. Mold me and make me Your Way!

Much love, (and prayers for sweet sleep for us all)

Stacy

PS

Again.....sorry.....a woman of too many words. This post was suppose to be short and sweet! :)