Trusting our very GREAT GOD in the midst of not so great news.

Every time I get a mammogram... I wonder if this will be “the day” – the day they tell me I need a biopsy.

That day came this past Tuesday. The radiologist told me I needed to schedule a needle tissue biopsy on my left side to see if a suspicious area has cancerous cells. I acted like it was no big deal while she explained exactly what they will do and how I need to prepare for it.

I think my brain went numb… until I walked out into the lobby and Holly asked me how things went.

That’s when I melted into tears and tried to explain what happened. She held me with her eyes and listened and helped me talk through what I needed to do next. Then we got a latte at Starbucks and slowly made our way toward the parking garage, and toward a new hard thing I didn’t want to have to process.

This All Started in December 1992
Seventeen years ago, my mom had a suspicious area that ended up being cancer and she had a mastectomy that year right before Christmas. Her mother had died of breast cancer in 1977. In the past several years my mom’s two neices (my two cousins) have had breast cancer. They are the only two females in my generation from mom’s side that hit their 40s before me. I am next in line in the age range that is risky. My cousin, Amy, just had a voluntary double mastectomy to avoid it all together. She is the sister of the other two that had it.

Two and a half years ago I got a routine mammogram and had to go back for a diagnostic one because of this “area.” At that time we decided I would start seeing an oncology surgeon (who is head of Oncology at Carolina’s medical) so that he could closely watch and help me navigate through decisions if a time like this came. He has been very concerned since the beginning and has even suggested throwing me into menopause early! (Mercy, I opted out of that one.) Anyway, he said they’d watch it and if it changed we’d do a biopsy.

It has changed, so here we are.

I fell asleep crying Tuesday night. Not because I was scared(yet)…but because I was exhausted. In fact, I told JJ and Holly and Lysa and my mom I was too tired to be scared. I couldn’t feel anything but weary and worn. I desperately needed to rest so I could get renewed mentally to make decisions about the timing of my biopsy – which everyone wanted me to do the next day!

I honestly don’t want to know the results (if something is wrong) for Christmas. A week of waiting won’t make it any worse. And not knowing doesn’t make me anxious.

That might sound odd, but if I know it is cancer then I have to face it and I’m not ready for that. It’s Christmas and I’m still recuperating from adopting a baby, traveling to Africa, having mom in the hospital and trying to write a book that I just signed a contract for before all this crazy stuff happened.

What’s Next?
Well, scared came. And so did denial. Then came questioning. Next came convincing myself it’s nothing.

It’s funny how our feelings and sense of what God is doing changes each day in times like these. Each day got better as I had time to sleep and pray, read God’s Word and process it all with JJ and my sweet Father who knows all things. I have sensed God’s nearness and His good. There are so many ways He’s intervened the past two weeks leading up to this and I have experience how very present He is in my time of need. I know I can trust my very great God in the midst of not so good news.

And I finally made my appointments. I am scheduled to see my oncologist this Monday, Dec 21st, at 2:30pm for an examination and to find out the “what ifs”. Then I have my biopsy on Monday, Dec 28th at 8:30am. I don’t think we’ll have too many answers until after my biopsy comes back the week of New Year’s.

Although this is really hard, I have peace and assurance deep in my soul that can only come from Jesus. He’s looking out for me, and so is JJ! He surprised me with a weekend away (that started last night) to rest and spend some time with Jesus. I am staying at one of my favorite hotels and it’s been wonderful. I am using this time to focus on and prepare for what is now – Christmas, my precious baby and boys, and the gift of time with my family. After Christmas, we’ll think about what might be next.

I love you my friends!!I’m so glad that we walk this journey together as we follow hard after Him.

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. I knew this was coming. It's a bittersweet read. I love your faith while hate what you're facing. You know my prayers surround you and I'm believing God for His best for you…always.

    Glad you decided to wait until after Christmas. As I shared with you earlier this week, having my tests done just before Christmas last year and having to wait until after the holidays for results was difficult. Praying you will know His peace and rest all along this journey.

    Love, prayers and hugs,
    Joy

  2. Renee, you have to read Beth Moore's post from yesterday. It's long, but so worth every minute. Just to quote a small portion:

    "In the aftermath of our ordeal, people have asked me over and over again how I felt it would come out and I told them what I'll tell you: I just did not know. One day I'd think my daily Bible reading indicated that I would be spared from a malignancy. The next day I'd think I only had two weeks to live. I quit trying to read Scripture like a crystal ball and, instead, just entrusted myself to God for His perfect will and felt peace either way. I have said to Him over and over in matters concerning my loved ones, "Deliver us from everything but Your glory, Lord." That's what I asked this time, too. "Deliver us from evil, Lord, and from temptation but do not deliver us from Your prized glory."

    It's a powerful post of her recent health challenges. Hope it encourages you too.

    More hugs,
    Joy

  3. Hey sweet Joy, you are right!! Beth's post was so perfectly timed. I read it last night and was so encouraged by her news and all that she shared. Grace and Mercy just blew me away!

    Praying that God "will deliver us from everything but His glory" as well. I love that prayer! She's such a treasure. And so are you!

    Love you friend!

  4. I am lfiting you in prayer and will continue to ask God to soak you in His love, peace, comfort, joy,and especially asking for good health. You have many sisters-in-Christ covering you in prayer.

  5. Praying for you sweet friend! I have been there…it is difficult and especially this time of year. You are loved and prayed for! May you find peace and rest this Christmas season and into the new year.

    I, too, just read Beth Moore's post earlier this morning and was very touched by this quote: "God has called me, and so many others in women's ministry, to experience a broad spectrum of women's issues so I can grow more equipped to do His will toward those I serve. And it is my privilege."

    Indeed…:)

    ((Hugs))

  6. Renee, We had a crazy night around here – not much sleep, but you were on my heart and in my prayers, which will continue. More to say, but will have to stop back later. Until then I pray He takes your worry away, like you said it only robs you of rest and that's a gift He wants to give all year long and I'm sure at Christmas. Prayers, Jill

  7. First of all I want to say how thankful I am that you had your dear friend, Holly, there with you that day! What a blessing!

    Then, to have peace and rest in your heart and mind. What a gift from the LORD! He truly does give peace that passes all understanding or comprehension. What would we do without His sweet presence?! So thankful that you have Him to guide you through this time!

    Lastly (but very importantly), so thankful that you shared this with us, your blog friends, so that we can lift you up in prayer. So thankful that God hears our prayers and is faithful to answer!

    BIG HUGS to you, Renee!

  8. I love you sweet friend. Praying.

  9. Praying for you to get through this time much stronger than before!

  10. How ironic that you are going through this right now. My mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Had surgery Dec. 1st. Scheduled a lumpectomy and doc came to talk to us in the middle of surgery and said he found one other lump. My poor dad had to make a decision to do a mastectomy. It was a surprise. She ended up with three lumps, and will soon endure Chemo. She had a fast growing cancer, which was very unexpected. Not a common one from what we know at this time. I know the feelings as a daughter that I am going through. My mom has since learned to put things in perspective. She loves to shop, she smokes and doesn't eat very well. So this has helped her to change some of those things, little by little.
    We are finding that it does run in our family and at age 37 her oncologist and surgeon want me to go in and get a mamogram done! I know the feelings that you have probably been feeling for a while now! UGH
    I do know that breast cancer has a high cure rate…but that doesn't minimize what you have to endure in the mean time!
    My mom is facing losing her hair soon. She is dreading that. I told her that I would shave mine with her, but then my practical side starts in and I think, I don't want to do that! I want my hair even though most days I hate it! But it isn't really about me anymore. The reality is my mom will be fighting for her life. Hair grows back, and if it will make her feel more comfortable! Sigh….In this world of sin, Come Lord Jesus! Soon…….
    Shannon

  11. I'm so sorry, Renee! Both you and your family will be in our prayers.

  12. Renee: Will be lifting you up in prayer. I keep reminding myself, I my own and in other's circumstances, God's ways are not our ways!

  13. Wow, Renee. You've hardly had a chance to breathe these last few months. The enemy makes me so MAD!!

    "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him and put him to flight…" Isaiah 59:19

    I'm praying that God will intervene mightily, your news will all be good, and that you and your family will enjoy a peaceful, joy-filled Christmas together.

  14. Renee, I'm amazed at how much we have in common. I so often read your words and feel as if I had written them myself.

    My mother is also a breast cancer survivor. She had a mastectomy in '86. As a little girl I feared the same for myself. As I grew older that fear turned to faith and knowledge about early detection. My doctor started my mammograms at 30. Now at 33 I'm happy to get my boobs squished every year. I thank God for the technology we have to detect these things then face and fight them head on. I'm praying for you my friend. What an awesome testimony and demonstration of courage and faith you already have for those who are in the same fight.
    Love and prayers,
    Paula G.

  15. Praying for you sweet Renee!

    Pam

  16. Renee, I'm so sorry you're going through this. I will be praying for you, sister.

  17. So sorry to hear this news. You have been going through so many difficult things this season. My heart goes out to you. I have a dear friend who is in the midst of this trial right now. I pray for God's peace and rest for you.
    Blessings, sweet sister.

  18. Renee, I can't even imagine the load that is on you right now. I know in my heart that God has your life under control. I will be praying for you daily until your breakthrough comes through. I know that God gave Aster to you because you would make a special mommy to her. God has it all under control. I pray that he will surround you with angels that will encourage you and lift you up when you needed.

    Love,prayers and hugs,
    Silvia

  19. Hello Renee,
    I was first introduced to your blog when Holly did an entry on Lysa's blog about your adoption story, and I've been following it ever since.

    I just want to quickly reassure you that we can beat cancer – I had early stage cervical cancer in 1996, and I'm fine now, and have been ever since my hysterectomy.

    I also want to tell you that it can be a blessing for God to choose us to go through difficult times, because through them, we learn to grow so much closer to Him. My son was almost killed in a car accident in 2006, but he survived multiple major injuries. He now lives independently, albeit with a serious brain injury – heartbreaking for us, because he was a genuine computer whizz, destined for great things – in human terms. He was in hospital for 13 months and I spent most of that time with him – all in hospitals many hours drive away from my husband and young daughter at home.

    I learnt to rely on God as never before, and I have come to see this as time of great blessing and privilege. I know that this is very early in the scheme of things to be telling you this, but I pray that you will come to think of your news in the same way, in time.

    We easily trust God with the small things in our lives – and we can have the same confidence in His love, leading, strength and grace during the hard time.

    God bless you, my dear blogging friend, and may you know the peace that only Jesus can give us. I will commit to pray for you daily.

    with love, Anne, NZ.

  20. I just dropped by to see what was up before heading to bed. I am so glad I did.

    I will pray for you as I close my eyes tonight. And will continue to pray in the days to come.

    Have a Christmas filled with all the joy your family can hold.

  21. Renee, I am praying for you as well as JJ, your mom, and kids. Thank you for sharing with us and allowing us to pray for you.

    Angela

  22. I am praying for you sweet sister.

  23. Will be praying for you and your family.

  24. I am praying for you, Dearheart… but remember that there is One who live to intercede for you as well.

  25. Oh Renee,

    You must be so exhausted. Like, deep…deep…deep down in your gut. I am going to pray for you (and Josh…and Andrew…) today.

    love
    jess

  26. Oh my sweet friend, I am so sorry you are going through this. I am praying for you.

  27. Renee, I woke up praying for you today. I love it when God does that! In the last 6 weeks, I've been walking with a friend through an initial diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer. BUT with every surgery, every scan, every test, the docs have "downgraded" her to a stage 1. 🙂 Only God. Only God.

    Thank you for sharing your heart. It is a privilege to be on your prayer team!

    Deb

  28. Praying for you, Renee!

  29. Dearest Renee,

    We really are in this thing together. I understand so much of what you've written here and am so astonished to hear that you are walking this path. There are no accidents on God's timeline, and I'm honored to walk alongside of you, my friend.

    Dearest Lord,

    You have blessed me beyond words with a precious friend like Renee. Her prayers and her messages of encouragement have lifted my own heart these past couple of weeks, and now it's my greatest privilege to return to your throne with her name on my lips and in my heart.

    Bless her today, Lord. Help her to recognize that you are indeed with her. It is You who has marked out this path. It is You who has already gone before her. It is You who will carry her. Let every step she takes today be by your design. Let the words that others speak to her be only from You.

    I pray that she will find comfort in You. I also pray that she will be surrounded and shielded by those who love her and are praying for her.

    Thank you, dear Lord, that you are greater than our hearts. Help her to find rest and peace and even deep joy in You. I pray that this will not overtake her but instead that You, the almighty one, will be her covering today.

    Bless my friend. Heal all that needs healing. And Lord, help us to trust. We love you. We give our lives to you. Thank you for holding us in your hands.

    We offer our prayers because you've asked us to and knowing that you listen and work on our behalf. We offer them in the strong and wonderful name of Jesus. Amen.

    Rest well sweet sister. I am praying for you and love you so.

    Karen True

  30. Dear Renee,

    My prayers are with you during this rough time. I pray that things will turn out well with the biopsy. You have had a hard share of trials the past few months. Praying the Jesus' closeness to you will sustain you!

    Love, Andrea

  31. Holding you up in prayer!
    Jennifer

  32. Hold tight to God, girl. Hold tight to God!

    Remember to speak God truths into your life, not negative talk. If it doesn't line up with the truth of God, rebuke it immediately and embrace the truth God has for you.

    Praying for you and your family as you celebrate the spectacular birth of our Savior!

    Rebecca

  33. Dearest Renee,
    I came from Lysa's blog. I remember your adoption story and rejoice with you. I now hear this story and I weep with you.

    I pray that God will keep you. May you always hold your Shield of Faith and remember your Helmet of Salvation as you focus your thoughts on Him. May our heavenly Father grant you the miracle you need. Be it healing, strength, peace or all of the above.

    He has a plan for your life, Renee. Hold on to Him. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He performed miracles then,He still performs them now. God bless you, dear sister in Christ. ((((HUGS)))))

  34. Renee, you are so very brave to share your journey with us. I am praying for you and your family.

    Connie

  35. My very dear friend. We have not met face to face, but I feel I know you from your blog. You will be in my prayers this holiday season.

    I too come from a family of females with breast cancer and I know those feelings that come with that. I have also recently been reminded of the power of prayer and the love of our Heavenly Father.

    A very dear friend of mine found out the first weekend in November that she had a T4 tumor in her colon. She was given a 5 year success rate of less than 25%. She was told that due to the size of the tumor, surgery was not an option at this point. Chemo and radiation were her only choice. So we prayed….her family, her friends, their churches, people who did not even know her. Two days later she was told that the tumor has formed a fistula basically creating it's own pathway to her intestines and that she had to have surgery immediately. It was a very risky surgery that could end very badly. Again, we prayed. The surgery lasted seven hours and she was told that she would be in ICU for at least a week if not longer. It would be touch and go. We prayed. She was out of ICU in two days, walking up and down the hallway in three. They said that she might possibly have an infection in the wound. We prayed. No infection and she came home the second week of December. Is she completely healed? No but her success rate is now over 80%. Our God is a mighty God and he knows the paths that are laid before us.

    So my dear friend, I pray. I pray for you. I pray for your doctors. I pray for your family and friends who are close to you. I simply pray.

  36. Oh Renee.

    Please know…I have already said a prayer for you – and I will continue.

    Consider yourself hugged,
    Kate 🙂

  37. Renee, I just came over from Lysa's. It is 12:25 central time so it is getting close to your appt. on the east coast. I pray that you are feeling peace right now. I pray that you have strength and endurance to get through these next few hours and that it is better than you feel like it will be right now, the processing, talking, asking and answering questions. I pray specifically that your time in the waiting room be short and not filled with foot jiggling, short of breath, anxious waiting! I pray that God will give you people to smile at you and people to smile at. I pray that those who are supporting you will be filled with peace to help you the best they can. I pray that your doctor will have wisdom and that communication between the two of you will be clear. God, hear our prayers and keep walking with Renee as I KNOW you are! In Jesus' mighty name, Amen!

  38. The Lord Bless The and Keep the The Lord to make his face to shine upone thee and be gracious unto thee the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give the Peace. Love you with all my heart.

  39. I am praying for you. I just got the news that I have to go back in for a followup mammogram. I had to have a biopsy 3 years ago. I am trusting God for good news but know that He is with us in the journey. We are not alone. This may be of interest to you too. I adopted an African/American baby last year with my other children being in their teens so I know how hard it is to start all over. Just thankful that God has the wisdom and strength to carry us through.

  40. Wow! I just read your story. I am weeping for you and praying for you at the same time. I heard you on Christian radio this morning and decided to come home and look at your website.
    I have two dear friends in my Sunday School class having breast cancer treatments right now. It is so hard!
    I pray that you don't have to go there, but God is good and has a plan in mind.
    Thanks for sharing your heart!

  41. Praying for you, Renee. You've had a giant plate full lately. Perhaps He is heaping your plate so you can feed others giant portions. At any rate, He is in control. Cast your care. I am praying for you.

  42. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I admire your honesty, courage and faith in our loving God.

    I pray that you and your family feel God's calming presence as you move forward. I pray for wisdom for your doctor(s) and tender care from your nurses. Amen.

  43. Hi Renee,

    I am praying for you to keep your peace and enjoy Christmas with your family. Don't let the enemy steal that. I know it is just plain hard to wait for tests/results. Lord, we ask for good health for Renee and her family. I also read Beth's blog post Joyful mentioned. God smiled at Beth when He sent Grace and Mercy to care for her. His love for us is that big and personal. He is with you Renee. I will continue to pray for you. Blessings, Barbara

  44. My goodness, what a dreadful thing to deal with right now.
    I am praying for you – Lord, please touch Renee and heal her.
    Above all, may she continually sense Your presence and peace. May You, Lord Jesus, be glorified through this journey, and in every aspect of Renee's life.
    Amen

  45. Renee,
    I enjoy reading your blog and I get encouraged by it. I pray that you keep strong in faith as you aleady are doing in all you're going through.
    -Zemen.

  46. Renee, you and your family will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time…oh BUT GOD!!! Continue to lean on and trust in HIM Renee. I pray he will comfort you and your family and that you will be able to have peace and experience HIS awesome GRACE during this Christmas season and always!

  47. prayers…

  48. Praying for peace, joy and healing douring this Christmas season. I pray this is your best Christmas EVER, Renee.

    I love you,
    Sandy

  49. So sorry Renee…..I am gladly praying for you (my sister in Christ).
    God has a plan….may your courage be evident for the world to see.

  50. Renee,
    You are definitely in my prayers this Christmas! I hate unknowns!! I'm praying you'll be able to savor every moment down to the last drop with your loved ones this year…with the Prince of all Peace.

    Merry Christmas!
    love you, lisa

  51. Renee-
    You and your family will be in my prayers. You and your faith are once again an amazing role model for me. Thank you for taking time to share your journey with all of us. May God's blessing be with you and your family this Christmas season.
    Nicole

  52. JEREMIAH 29:11

    FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR RENEE, SAYS THE LORD, PLANS TO PROSPER HER NOT TO HARM HER, PLANS TO GIVE HER A HOPE AND A FUTURE………….

  53. I'm praying for you. I am 50 and a few weeks ago I saw my gyn for some issues I had been having, she decided to do an endometrial biopsy, my mind went numb when she was talking to me I seriously felt like I wasn't even there. I had to wait five days for the result and it seemed like forever, the day after the biopsy my 19 year old was pushed off the highway by another car and his car was totaled, he was fine thank God! It was all so overwhelming. My biopsy was normal and I am so grateful for that. Your faith and trust in God and your perspective just ministered so much to me. I am so glad that I found your blog, praying for peace and joy for you and your family. The little darlin you adoped well she is just precious!

  54. I will pray for you, and I am sure we will be encouraged by you and your strenght to get through this. May God abundantly bless you.

  55. Renee,

    I came by to catch up with you. I was floored by the whirlwind you are in the middle of, but felt such peace reading your words. He has you in the palm of His hand, that's very clear.

    As you continue to step out for Him, your speaking, your writing, your book, your precious new daughter…He is going to give you a journey to walk in front of us all. And each step of the way, we will watch and be encouraged, because God knows YOU ALWAYS give him the glory and the honor and the praise.

    You are here in this world, in North Carolina, in the lives of your family, in the ministry He has placed in your care – for such a time as this.

    Hugging you in my heart, and praying His will. I can't wait to see what He does Renee. It is ALWAYS exceedingly more than we ask or think.

    Love, Joanne

    **I will be in a hospital sitting beside my father in law on Wednesday while he awaits a biopsy for his wife, my mother in law. I will no doubt think of you.**

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