Lana Elder

I'm believin'!

Throne of Grace

Hi all,

Thank you all for your prayers for me. I continue to feel you lifting me up before God and helping me to make some good decisions each day.

Although I’ve been encouraged that the lump in my breast has been shrinking, the pain in my back is increasing.  So as much as I’ve been praying that God will take this away through nutrition and prayer, I’m feeling more like I’ll need to start chemotherapy soon.  The doctors say the chemo will help to kill the cancer that is causing my back pain, and could put the cancer into remission.  But because it has spread, it will likely begin to grow back again, which means I’ll need to keep taking some kind of chemotherapy for several years.

Since I’m thinking about starting the chemotherapy, I’ve found an oncologist closer to home, about 25 minutes away instead of 2 hours away, where I could get the treatments.  This will make it easier all around.

I’m still praying this week though that God will heal me completely before that, if possible.  The doctor has agreed to do a PET scan this Friday to see if the tumors have shrunk anywhere else in my body.  If so, we’ll praise God and keep doing what we’re doing!  But if the cancer is the same or has spread further, then I’m scheduled to have a port put in on Tuesday next week, and begin chemo treatments on April 6th — Good Friday.  

The doctor has also scheduled me for an MRI brain scan on April 5th to see if anything is there. Well, cancer, that is. I’m hoping my brain will be in the scan. 😉 I guess the common places for breast cancer to metastasize is to the lungs, liver, bone and the brain. They don’t think it’s gone to my brain yet, but that’s one of the four typical places breast cancer goes, and since it’s already gone to the other three spots in my lungs, liver and spine, they are hoping (as am I!) that it hasn’t yet gone to my brain.

All to say, I would appreciate your prayers again this week, as much as ever, that God will make it clear what to do next.

Last week, my doctor started me on an infusion of something called Aredia to help build up my bones. It’s an injection that takes two hours. The side effects included flu-like symptoms of fever, chills and bone pain in various places for about 36 hours afterward. I felt like Harry Potter must have felt when he took “Skele-gro” to grow his arm back when it had been turned into jello. 🙂  During my feverish episode, I was actually wondering if they gave me one of the chemo drugs instead!  But the symptoms were in line with the common side effects of Aredia. Because of my bone metastasis, I will probably receive a bone treatment like Aredia (or Xgeva or Zometa) every 3- 4 weeks!! So any prayers for my bones to heal would be really appreciated. I have also spoken with a naturopathic doctor and have found some natural remedies to strengthen my bones that I will use as well.

As much as I wish I had better news, I have been encouraged this week by these verses in Hebrews 4:14-16:

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

It’s so good to know that Jesus can sympathize with my weaknesses, and that I can approach God’s throne with confidence so that I can receive His mercy and grace in my time of need. I am always so encouraged by the word of God.

As I head into the weeks ahead, and all the tests and decisions, I thought I would pray right here and ask if you could join me in prayer and agree with me for my healing.

Dear heavenly Father, I thank You for everything you are doing in my life. I thank You for the incredible blessing of friends and family around the world who are praying for me and lifting me up to your throne for healing. Continue to hear and answer our prayers. I thank You that You understand what is happening in my body and You are in complete control. You are always good and loving and You know what is best. I thank You too that we can approach Your throne with confidence knowing that You are a merciful God and that You will give us grace in our time of need. Lord, I ask for complete healing in my body. I ask for every cancer cell to die and be removed from my body and for new and healthy cells to take their place. God, You are the Great Physician. You know what my body needs. Please touch me by the power of your Holy Spirit and bring about the complete healing that I need.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Your prayers are truly appreciated!!
Love you all!  Lana

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Boasting in the Lord

Thanks again for your prayers and concern. I wanted to update you on my condition. I continue to feel reasonably well. As glad as I am for the lump in my breast having shrunk, I’m starting to have a little more back pain than usual and so my running has slowed down. I ran just a mile this week but continue to walk as often as I can. We have had some great weather in Illinois so that has made it even more enjoyable. I’m also nearing the end of a ten-day period of intense praying about which treatment plan I should pursue.  We’ve gotten more input from several people this week that has helped us greatly, but the decision about which way to go is still very hard. I have an appointment this week with my doctor to talk about my back pain and what that may mean, too. I know God is the ultimate healer and I continue to trust Him completely with this situation.

I also wanted to share a story with you. I love to hear stories of how God answers prayer because it encourages me to keep praying. Luke 11:9 says, “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

Just a few weeks ago while many of you were praying for my healing I was praying for a home for my son Lucas. You see, Lucas was living with some college friends in their garage temporarily until he could find permanent housing. For some reason, the thought of me having cancer didn’t seem as bad to me as the thought of my son living in a garage! It often made me cry in my prayer time to God. And so I continued to cry out to God for a home for Lucas and healing for me. Lucas had left the end of January to start his 2nd year of college at Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney, Australia. He is studying to be a worship leader and absolutely loved his first year of school there. His entire journey to go to school there has been one of faith. Because the school is not accredited in the U.S. he does not qualify for any financial assistance. And the cost of living in Australia is quite high. He made it through his first year with help from us and by using up all of his savings and working as much as he could over there. His second year looked even more daunting. The cost of living in college housing was more than we could afford. So over the Christmas break we prayed that something would come available.

Lucas felt like God had given him a scripture from Luke 10:5-9 that says, “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.'”

His prayer was that God would lead him to the right place. But we still didn’t have a place for him. Lucas has faith like his dad and decided to just get on the plane and trust that God would provide. And that is how he ended up in a garage. 🙂 But, as his mom I was thankful he had a roof over his head. About two weeks ago, Lucas found out that he probably shouldn’t stay in the garage of the other college kids because they might get suspended from school because of him. Just prior to Lucas finding that out, he received a call from a distant relative (his Dad’s cousin’s brother-in-law) who had a house that he was willing to offer a room for Lucas. Lucas quickly made the call. He said they were happy to have him stay with them. Their older son was going to give up his room. Lucas said he didn’t need to but the son insisted. In fact, they said when they bought the home just recently they decided as a family that they wanted to have one of the rooms in their home made available for people that God may send their way. All they wanted in return was for Lucas to teach their son some guitar lessons. Lucas was thrilled. The last time I spoke with Lucas he said he had gone to the grocery store to get some food and when he brought it home the “mom” said he didn’t have to buy any more food. They wanted to provide his food for him as well. It makes me cry even just to type this. I write this to you because I want to boast about the goodness of God. In Psalm 27:13, it says, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Not that I was in despair…..I just like to see God’s goodness. I also want to boast about the goodness of God’s people. There is no way I could repay them for the kindness they have shown to my son. But I pray that God rewards them in ways that go beyond anything I could offer them!

Seeing God answer this prayer in such an incredible way reminds me that God does answer our prayers sometimes in ways that are unexpected!  I’m continually amazed at the overwhelming goodness and love that God has for us. Stories like this encourage me that God does answer prayers. Thanks again for your prayers for our family and for my healing.  They mean so much to us.

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Chock-full of Faith

I just wanted to follow up with everyone on my visit to my oncologist on Wednesday. She put together a treatment plan that would use chemotherapy to help shrink the tumors and would alleviate any symptoms from the cancer that I might have down the road. She also explained that treating stage 4 cancer is like treating diabetes. You can manage the symptoms of diabetes with insulin but it is something that you will have the rest of your life. In the same way, the treatments I would have for any symptoms of my cancer would be something I would likely need for the rest of my life. She said I could take a break from the chemo for a couple of months from time to time, but that the tumors will most likely grow back and then I would be back on the chemo to shrink them.

However, currently, I feel very few symptoms and have a lot of hope from the prayers and nutritional changes I’ve been making.  She agreed to let me continue doing what I’ve been doing and check the status of my tumors in two months. I was so thankful and happy that she agreed to this. I could have kissed her! Yesterday (Thursday) I met with a nutritional doctor to help me determine the best way to build up my immune system over the coming months. I have also read many books regarding nutritional approaches to treating cancer. I am currently taking more supplements than anyone I know but I feel very good about this approach and I’m so thankful to be able to treat the cancer this way. I’m praying my tumors will continue to shrink and disappear through prayer and nutrition.

On a funnier side note, as we the left nutritionist yesterday, walking out with a bag chock-full of supplements, Eric said he felt like he was in a scene from the movie “The Princess Bride” when two men take their friend Westley to see Miracle Max.  Even though they thought Westley was dead, it turned out he was only “mostly” dead according to Miracle Max, so he made a special pill to bring him back to life.  As the two friends left with the pill in their hands and their friend Westley over their shoulders, Miracle Max and his wife Valerie are seen standing at the door waving. Valerie then leans into Miracle Max and says, “Think it’ll work?” to which Miracle Max says, “It would take a miracle!” and they just keep waving. (It’s a great movie if you haven’t seen it.) Apparently, that’s how Eric felt leaving the nutritionist yesterday with all these pills, smiling and waving and thinking “It would take a miracle!” Thankfully, he makes me laugh. I credit him for most of the wrinkles on my face! I told Eric I feel like some people think I am like Westley….that I’m “mostly” dead. But I just want you all to know I’m alive and well. I continue to eat very healthy and exercise (either walking, running, weights, or stretching). I also know it probably will take a miracle to cure me from this disease. But thanks to your prayers, I’m chock-full of faith, too!

So thank you for adding your prayers to mine! I do believe they make a difference. A psalm I read last night that encouraged me is Psalm 121.

I lift up my eyes to the hills— 
   where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the LORD, 
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip— 
   he who watches over you will not slumber; 
indeed, he who watches over Israel 
   will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you— 
   the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 
the sun will not harm you by day, 
   nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm— 
   he will watch over your life; 
the LORD will watch over your coming and going 
   both now and forevermore.

I am very much aware that my help comes from the Lord. But I also know that God works through His people and I have seen Him working through many of you. Whether it’s a word of encouragement, a prayer, a card, or a gift, I sense God working through you all to encourage and strengthen me. You are being the hands, feet and body of Christ to me. So thank you again for everything. May God bless you back abundantly!!

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The Shrinking Lump

We have just finished with the ultrasound of the lump in my breast.  It’s still there, but the good news is that the lump is smaller! Praise God!! The radiologist said it’s measuring 20% smaller than a month ago and that this is unusual. He said he has never seen a lump like this go away or shrink without treatment, and that this was highly unusual and he didn’t have a great explanation for why this is happening. He also said the lump has settled in the soft tissue of the ribs which partly explains why I have a hard time finding it. But he did say it is indeed smaller in size and not as tall as it was a month ago, measuring only 1.2 cm instead of 1.5 cm last month. While we were hoping that the lump would be gone completely, the fact that it has shrunk at all is encouraging to us that God is answering prayers and perhaps using the nutritional steps I have taken to cause this to happen. The doctor didn’t know if this is an indicator of what may be happening in the rest of my body or not as he has never seen this happen before. Please continue to pray with us for a healthy dose of wisdom as we meet with the oncologist on Wednesday to discuss our next steps.  We’re continuing to praise God for this good report. Here’s a Psalm that you can use to praise God with us.

Psalm 100
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
  come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
  It is He who made us, and we are His;
  we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
  and His courts with praise;
  give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the LORD is good and His love endures forever;
  His faithfulness continues through all generations.

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Back from California

Hello all! I wanted to let you all know how much I appreciate your prayers, cards, gifts and notes of encouragement. I feel constantly lifted up before God. You all are amazing! I had an incredible week in California with my daughter Makari. We both loved Bethel school and she has already filled out her application to attend next year. Many people laid hands on me and prayed for my healing while I was there. And I, along with many of you fasted and prayed for 24 hours last Monday. I continue to believe that God can and will heal me from this disease and I know your prayers continue to make a difference. I posted earlier that the lump in my breast has shrunk significantly and I believe it is a direct result of your prayers. Thank you all again and again. I also am very thankful that my doctor has scheduled another ultrasound on Monday March 5th to check the lump. Yea! I am looking forward to hearing and seeing those results as I know many of you will be too!!

While I was at Bethel I bought a little booklet for my kids called “4 Most Important Things.” It really spoke to me so I wanted to share some of what it says here.

Number 1 “God is in a good mood.” So true. He really does love you and is totally for you. If you know that God is for you and not against you, you will be able to look at each situation as something that will eventually result in good. (Romans 8:31 & Romans 8:28)
Number 2 “Jesus’ blood paid for everything.” God sent Jesus to pay for all of our sins and all of our diseases. Psalm 103:2-3 “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits– who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.”
Number 3 “I am important.” Yes, you are! He cares for you deeply. 1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.”
Number 4 “Nothing is impossible.” Let me hear an AMEN! Jesus said in Matthew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

I hope the words from this little booklet encourage you in whatever situation you may be facing. I also want you to know I am open to whatever treatment options God may have for me. I did a MUGA scan on my heart on Friday and I have an appointment with my oncologist on Wednesday. But the appointments I look forward to the most are the ones I have with God everyday and throughout the day! Love you all.  Lana

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