I really can’t believe it has been over a year since I have written here. Life has been moving at warp speed in the past year. My business, Design373, has exploded. I have added several employees, including a full time Art Director. We are a team of 9 working with 10 different churches now doing web work and external marketing for them. You can see what we do at http://www.design373.com. The Lord has blessed beyond measure. I am truly living a call that I experienced when Keith and I were in seminary 30 years ago, and loving every minute of it!
I am sure you are wondering what has pulled me out of blog retirement. I wish I could say it was a fabulous trip that I wanted to journey with you on. This time, however, it is a little less glamorous, and a lot less fun.
I chose the title, “Back on a Familiar Road,” because that’s where I find myself these days. The familiar road is that of cancer.
A little over a month ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Wow. I heard that collective gasp. Hang with me here. While this is very serious, it has been discovered very early. I am a textbook case for why women should have mammograms. But, of course, I am also an anomaly, because I have cancer in both breasts, and each one is different. I have been told that this is rare, and I told my doctor, “Yeah. That’s how we do cancer at my house!”
So here’s what it is…on the left side I have a cancerous lesion that is completely contained (or in situ). For a little while it was thought that was all we were dealing with. We all cheered and were talking about a lumpectomy that was going to be just a little more than scooping it out with an ice cream scoop. THEN the doctors saw an “area” on the right side that concerned them. After an MRI guided biopsy (which was no fun until they gave me Valium), they found out that the right side has invasive cancer. That changed everything.
Last week I began my journey with Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. I have a great surgeon and wonderful people walking me along. It looks like I’m going to have a double mastectomy. I am not sure when, but because the cancer on the right side is Stage 2 and moderately aggressive, it will probably be pretty soon. So, I’m gonna be saying good bye to the girls, which is fine since they have turned on me.
The surgeon is not sure if there will be chemo after the surgery. That will depend on the lymph nodes, from what I understand.
So…as I begin this journey, there are a few things that I want to share. First, I am aware of and very comfortable with the fact that this is part of God’s plan for me.
In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus says this, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are 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!”
I read a devotional that a friend sent to me shortly after they found the first cancer that used this verse. In it, the writer noted that our heavenly Father is the giver of all good gifts. Everything that comes our way, comes from the loving and protective hands of our Father who has preordained it for our good and His glory. If this is true, then the next logical question will be, “Are you saying that your cancer is good?” and I would say, “Yes and no.”
He said, “If we define ‘good’ as only the things that we want and desire, we will miss out on the beauty of the gospel and live lives devoid of the “joy” we see in Jesus, as He approaches the cross. (Hebrews 12:2).”
I want to keep the perspective of God’s goodness at work, even in sufferings. I think by doing that the joy will be tangible and there will be many opportunities to share with those around why there is joy in the midst of something seemingly so “bad.”
So here’s the thing…I want to walk this well. I want to look for the places of ministry that are mine and be sensitive to what God has for me to do. I’m pretty sure the only way to get into the inner workings of a cancer hospital is to have cancer, and I think there is work for the Kingdom to be done there. There are a lot of hopeless people in the halls of cancer hospitals. So here I go!
It is going to be painful and difficult, but exciting and interesting, too. I know I’m a little warped. There’s nothing about cancer that is exciting. Unless you truly grasp that it is God’s plan for me. That means we are in it together.
Perhaps the most difficult part of this has been walking it without Keith. It’s like running a marathon with one leg. I have a host of people gathered around me holding me up, but that leg is still missing. Somehow I think he is close, though. My kids are also doing okay with this, and have already started planning my life after surgery. I had to remind them the other day that I would sort of like a vote!
I would love for you to walk this with me. I will be writing here each week about things that I notice along the way, and stories of my journey. I will share the post on Facebook, but if you want to be sure you don’t miss any, please subscribe to the blog in the upper left corner, and you will receive a notification when I write. Feel free to share the posts with anyone you like.
In closing, I have a few thoughts:
- This cancer is very survivable, and that’s exactly what I plan to do.
- I want to ask for your prayers. Of course I want you to pray for healing, but that’s not the most important thing. Pray for me to complete whatever plan this is that God has for me. As I move forward I will put specific requests here and for sure would like you all to be praying during the surgery.
- Design373 is moving full speed ahead. My leadership team is stepping in and will pick up any slack that my absence will cause. I am grateful beyond words for Doug Reid, Jennifer Speer and Nathan Gaddis.
- I’ll try not to be this verbose on future posts, but those who have followed my blog before know there is no guarantee, especially if I meet interesting people!
We sang this at church yesterday. I wanted to share it in closing.
I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased and that I’m never alone
You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching for answers only you provide
Cause you know just what we need before we say a word
Oh, it’s love so undeniable I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable I can hardly think
You’re a Good, Good Father
Thanks for your interest and concern.
Blessings, my friends!
Gasp is right on!. You are loved and we will be praying you through this!
Susan Rahn DuBose said:
I have been thinking about Keith and his family lately, since our 40th high school reunion is scheduled this summer. We sang together in the ensemble and the chorus. I am so thankful for his friendship and his willingness to share his talents!
Prayers of comfort, grace, and hope are offered for you and for your children!
Terri Ratliff Taylor said:
(old friend from high school with Keith and BSU choir at Samford)
I’m definitely going to share this with a friend of mine who has gone through a similar situation and maybe she can FB you privately and share some of her experiences. There is definitely a bond between those who are Christ followers and have struggled in the same way. Bless you on this journey and love your positive attitude. You are in my prayers Lee Ann.
Sara Jo S. said:
Oh LeeAnn… I definitely gasped when I read your blog. You are such a servant if God! Bless your sweet heart. We will be praying continually for you for healing, for peace for no chemo and for Gods plan as you go thru this time. I thought if you and Keith last week on my way into work as I had a CD in from when you all were at GBC and especially the when the song “Only a God like you” came on. The guy on the CD sounds like Keith and that was a praise song we often. Plus the words made me think if both if you. “For the praises of man I will never stand, for the kingdoms of this world I’ll never give my heart away or shout my praise, my allegiance and devotion, my heart’s desire and all emotion, go to serve a man who died upon that tree… only a God like you..” Hugs from Indiana!
Susan Jovanovich said:
Praying for you❤️
Jennifer Kaminski said:
ann goldman said:
Sending you lots of love & best wishes…
Melodie Dickerson said:
You are and have always been an inspiration from Samford U until today. You and Keith- what a TEAM! He is still right alongside you every step of the way. Love and prayers and ALMIGHTY strength as you face this next bend in the road of your journey.
Katrina West said:
LeeAnn, you are such a strong christian woman! I have no doubt that you will touch and change many lives during this fight with cancer! We will definitely pray for you through it all.
Gasp, then prayers as you travel this road. I join your prayers and also pray that God will place people in your path who will be a blessing to you, and those to whom you will be a blessing. The refining fire ALWAYS ends with blessing from our good, good, Father.
Denise Greene said:
Lee Ann, I was so glad to see a new blog post from you in my inbox, and yes, Rick and I did gasp at your news. But we know that you will walk this road hand-in-hand with Jesus just as you walked it before with Keith. Your strength and grace inspire us, and we will faithfully and specifically pray for you, your family, and the concerns you have mentioned.
We are about to move to a new field of service in St. Pete. Would love to see you sometime.
On our knees,
Denise & Rick Greene
Anne Bell Phillips said:
Lee Ann…Be assured of our prayers here in Tennessee. Your family has been very special to us through the years. Sending you much love & many hugs…and “Believing God” for your swift & complete recovery!
Big Daddy Wolf said:
Thanks for sharing, Creaky Knees!! Wolf family will be praying for you. We will pray for the expedient departure of the left one, the right one, and continued grace and strength of the ALMIGHTY ONE to see you through…
Sally Blass Murray said:
Praying for you, Lee Ann!
Jackie Evans said:
Lee Ann, I am totally taken aback by this news… Everything you said about your journey is the truth! From ordained by God to ministering in the cancer centers!
My cousin went through this about a year & a half ago…The ministry she & her husband had at MD Anderson was amazing and over the charts! They Shared, comforted and ministered to more than we can count; and she is doing really well !!!
Praying for your journey and looking forward to your posts…You Know I Am In The Prayer Room With You!! Love you sweet friend…of many years..LOL
God’s going to do something phenomenal! !!! He already has.
Love you and praying!!
S. Romine said:
Already, you have encouraged me and challenged me. Thank you for loving Jesus. And, not only that, but also for trusting Jesus. I am finding it is one thing to love and another all together to trust. Your words are piercing and you are already being used in this place the Lord has you. Thank you. You are loved and prayed for, my friend and mentor.
Karen Kolbe said:
Yes I did gasp but I also had immediate thoughts of this is not fair!! Prayers for all you ask. You are a true inspiration.
Praying for you
Lisa Hurst said:
I love you so very much!
Yvonne Wood Huneycutt said:
Oh Lee Ann! I am truly sorry to hear your are having to walk this familiar road. Your faith and trust in the perfect love of God is inspirational and will see you through. I am praying now for you to be a light in desperate places AND for complete healing.
Judy Wallis said:
It hurts my heart that you are going through this, and you will be in my prayers each day. You are truly an inspiration, as was Keith. I’m confident there are many souls God will put in your path who need to know Him. May He richly bless you, give you strength, healing, and keep His loving arms around you and your sweet family through your surgery and recuperation.
Leisa DeVenny said:
You’ve always shared a template for us to follow when in comes to life’s challenges. Why stop now! As you’ve pointed out, in this life we will have struggles. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share this with you! Spread the wealth of struggles so we can help shoulder this burden and take it to the Father with you. Love you with and without cancer!!!!!! Please call of on your family in Christ to travel with you, willing and ready!!!!! Love you to pieces!
Josh Pettus said:
Girl, I love you and your family, and have from day 1. Many a long night keeping Josh and Bethany as you and Keith worked tirelessly on blessing everyone. I stand in the gap and pray for you, as well as Josh and Bethany. I love you all.