Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Journey Begins

"Lisa, it's cancer." Words I never thought I would hear. I'm only 29... I have a nine month old...You must be wrong! So here we are, 2 weeks after my diagnosis. It is amazing how one small lump can change your life. We've seen all the doctors, had all the tests and surgery is scheduled for next week. We feel like we have lived a whole year in 2 weeks.

I found a small lump several weeks ago. I am still breastfeeding so I just thought it was a clogged milk duct. It didn't go away like they had in the past. I worked with my doctor one night and she felt that I should have an ultrasound. During the ultrasound the radiologist was concerned about the lump which is less then 2 cm in size. They performed a biopsy 2 days later and I got the call while we were in the grocery store. Joel immediately went into action and called everyone we could think of to ask them to pray. Dr Risinger (my OBGYN) promptly started making calls and appointments. Over the next week we met Dr. Parker (the tumor surgeon) and Dr. Butler (the oncologist). These doctors and nurses went above and beyond to help make this process bearable.

After talking with the surgeon, oncologist, geneticist, counselor, and breast cancer survivors we have made the difficult decision to have a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. (For all you non-medical people...a mastectomy is the removal of the breast including the tissue). After the surgery I will also be receiving chemotherapy. This decision, although very difficult, is best for our family and for the many years to come. We have learned that the cancer is localized to my left breast and an invasive tumor caused by estrogen. So, we pray that by having surgery we will eradicate the risk of ever getting cancer again. We are asking everyone to continue to pray that the cancer has not spread to my lymph nodes. We will not know this until the day of surgery.

Daily, Joel and I have been overwhelmed by the love and support from all our family and friends. God has given us both "peace that passes understanding." It's obvious that the prayers of the faithful have brought the peace. Yes, I'm nervous about the surgery and the chemo and the long recovery ahead of me. But, as my surgeon said, if I wasn't nervous he would worry. At least I am fully aware of what's about to happen. Joel has been my rock. He has literally picked me up off the floor and helped me find the strength that I need to keep going. Life must go on. We have to continue for Ella Joy. She is doing fine by the way. We suspect she senses something is up. She actually has been sleeping better than ever these past few weeks!! We've posted some great pictures of her so check them out.

We will be using this blog site as a communication tool for all those who are praying and are concerned with our progress. We will be sharing our ups and downs and of course some pictures along the way. Our blog will be updated several times a week after I have surgery. We hope that this can take the place of phone calls as our days will be difficult at first. Please feel free to leave words of encouragement for our family. Many people have asked, "what can I do to help?" Over the next few months we will need lots of prayer, babysitters, meals and words of encouragement. If you are wondering why flowers are not included, the answer is.....they die.

Please feel free to share our site and our story.


Mike Doolittle said...

We are on the journey with you. We love you more than words can say. We love Joel and our precious grand daughter. We don't understand why these things happen, but He promised that he will never put more on us than we can stand. It is just difficult to see that right now. I know that you will come through trial
triumphantly. I am praying for you continuously. Hang in there and keep you chin up.

Holly said...

You are in our prayers every day, and we'll be watching your blog for all of the good reports! He is our healer!
In Christ,
Keith, Holly, Caleb, and Joshua Murray

Candice & Daniel said...

I'm so thankful that God has entrusted us with friendship....We love you, Joel & Ella a ton. We promise to be your right hand (and your left if you need it)...

Lots of love...and support!!!! (Can't you just feel it move through blogger....?)

Candy & Danny (that's just for you Van Hamme's)

Lori said...

Hi Lisa, Joel and Ella Joy,
I am friends of Candice's and will be praying for your sweet, precious family. I will place you on all the prayer lists I can think of. God Bless as you begin this journey.

Dave Cox said...

We love you guys so much! Please keep us up to date. Be sure to let us know if you need ANYTHING; we will pray, but we'd love to do more if there's an opportunity.

Deb said...

From Michigan...

We hold you up in prayer! YOU WILL BEAT THIS! My cousin did & I will pass this blog on to her. You are not alone!

Friends of Daniel, Candice, Ben, Rebekah, & Brock!!

The McLain's said...

Hey Van Hamme Family
Lisa, We have been praying for you ever since you married Joel. We will just have to change our focus...
Joel, What can I say to such a good friend, other than try a breath mint every once and a while...
Ella Joy, you keep sleeping good for Mom, and only make a #2 for the times your Daddy is watching you...
All joking aside we love you guys and you have already beat this...
Love you...
Denny & Tanya, Sarah & Rachel

Regina said...

Lisa and Joel,

You are in our thoughts and prayers. May the peace of Christ be your strength through each day, each moment.

In His love,

Scott and Gina

Nancy said...

We have been so blessed to have known you these past months, and what a blessing you have been to our kids - Ben/Rebekah/Brock, Daniel/Candice and to us!
You are on our church prayer list and also on the list with our cancer prayer group which meets every week. "God is do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think"
Praying so much for you... Love,
Bob and Nancy Lanning

Mark said...

We love you guys. Jennifer and I have been praying for you every day, multiple times a day. Know that we are here for you.

Mark and Jennifer

Amber said...

We love you...well, I do. Justin doesn't honestly really know, but he's praying just as hard as I am. Just know that the Lord will show you his healing power. You will stand and be a testimony of his love and mercy!
Love & prayers,
Amber & Justin

loriakin said...

I just got word today from Michelle. As an ob/gyn nurse this is a difficult part of my job but it's all the more difficult when it's someone that you know. Our family is lifting you up and in prayer and in our thoughts. Just remember God is our Jehovah Jira and our healer. I pray that through this journey he will make this a positive testimony for you to spread to others. God Bless

Lori Lanton-Akin

Nika said...

I don't know you but I noticed the news through Candice's blog (and as I was going through my Flickr pics for the day-blog world connection). Please know that as a fellow breast cancer survivor (currently in active treatment-I was dx'd this past June at 27 the week before my 28th bday) that I will keep you and your family lifted up in prayer during this time. Keep your eyes focused and stayed on Christ and know through him YOU ARE ALREADY HEALED!

Don't know if you are in the Columbia metro area but would love to connect with you and offer my support and get you connected with other young sister survivors that are in the area. I already sent a message to Candice earlier today with my contact info to pass along to you but feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need anything-seriously.

Stay strong and encouraged! You are going to make it through!

Nika (

Katharina said...

LIsa, It's Kathy Ross from college! It's funny that I find you because I was packing (we are moving) and found a picture of us from the beach, still in the frame. You are in my constant thoughts and prayers. I just had a tumor removed from my calf, a month after my son was born and they told me that it was cancer. It turned out not to be but I know how it is to hear those words. PLease let me know if there is anything that you need. And, dispite the circumstances, I'm really glad that I found you!!

Sara said...

You all are in my thoughts and prayers. Our family has had to deal with this crazy cancer over 5 times in the past 8 years and God has been good.

May He guide the hearts and minds of the medical staff over you and help lead you through the decisions you have to make.

<>< Sara Hill-Cola (old, old church family friend)

Katharina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
angela said...

Hi Lisa! I am a friend of Candice. I have passed along your blog to my Bible Study group asking them to pray for you. You & your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. May you feel God's presence with you through each day and every moment. God will give you strength and courage during this time. Write out some scriptures on notecards that really speak to you and have them handy while you are at the hospital or at home (this was something I did when I had surgery and it was very encouraging and comforting). you may find it helpful as well.
Angela Gambrell

donnacq said...


It seems like Emmanuel College was an age ago especially when you read something like this. I stumbled across your blog link on another EC alums blog. You, and your family are in my prayers. We've all seen God do the miraculous and I know that He will give you strength.

Donna Quick

Rachel said...

Lisa, we are praying for you on the other side of the world. Thank you for keeping this blog so we can stay updated.
Matt, Rachel and Micah

Wells said...

Hi Van Hamme Fam,
We will be praying for and with you guys through this....and of course already praising God for what He has and is going to do!
Jason and Michelle

Chris said...

I know you guys don't know me but Im' the brother of Michelle (and Jason) Wells in Norfolk, VA. Just wanted to let you guys know that you are in my prayers and to remember to keep God at the center of all this. I have seen Him do amazing things with cancer patients. May God bless the upcoming surgery and recovery. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Chris Brown,
Augusta, Georgia

Erin said...

You have been in my thoughts and prayers. I am believing for good reports and a quick recovery.
Love you,
Erin Leatherwood Price

Cindy said...

Hey Lisa,
We are standing in total agreement with you and your family for complete healing and a quick recovery. I have seen the faithfulness of the Lord in our own family during a time such as this. We are here for you and your folks too. Let us know what we can do. We pray several times a day for all of you.

Our love,
Cindy, Ricky, Cameron, Carissa and Andrew

B Flowers said...


I am sorry that you and your family are having to go through this. I love you and your family. My family will be praying for all of you and we will be believing for a good report. Remember that you serve a God who is bigger than anything! He is with you every step of the way... I'm believing with you for a good report!

Cheryl & Bobby said...

Hey Lisa, Joel and Ella Joy,

We just want you all to know that we stand with you all 100%. There is nothing impossible for God. Our faith is strong just as yours is. We are here for you in any way we an be of help. Day or night you can call and we will pray with you. Just remember when you feel weak stop, drop and roll. Stop what you are doing, drop to your knees and roll your cares on Jesus. He is there for you. Leave it with Him and go about your day as you normally would do. Another important thing, is do not entertain any negative thoughts. We have a positive out look on this and we know God will give you peace and carry you the whole way. Once again, do not hesitate to call us. We will babysit for you and do anything else you need. We love you all very, very much. We continue to pray without ceasing. Let's us know what we can do.

Bobby & Cheryl

Donna Hattaway said...


My prayers are with you and your family today. Our God is greater than all our trials and sorrows.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

In Christ,

Diane S. said...

Lisa, Joel and Ella Joy,
We are happy to hear the reports.
I have been thanking God throughout the day for just doing what he does best. What would we do without him ?
When we don't know what to say or do, just lean upon him and he carries us through.

Lisa, just rest and let others take care of you. You have always been the one to care for others. Just realx and recognize first hand just how greatly you bless others when helping them when they face a difficult time.
Many times we love to help but really have no idea what we say or may do will encourage or give hope to others when facing difficult situations.

I just love the pictures of Little Miss Ella Joy, She is so cute!!
I would love to just pinch those cheeks (softly). I know you have nothing to worry about, everyone will want to help take care of her.
If no one offers, please let me know. ha!! I know the list is already a mile long.
We would have to kidnapp grandpa and grandma Doolittle first.

Joel, I don't know you personally, but I am praying for you at this time as well. I know when someone in the family is sick or faced with a crisis is effects the whole family. You have been on an emotional roller coaster ride as well.

Thank you for keeping everyone posted on your progress.

Diane S.