So for those following along, here are Elise’s current stats.
Stage four metastatic breast cancer
Found in her breast, then later the lungs, liver, chest wall, abdomen, brain and spine
Countless procedures and rounds of chemo
So where does her deep rooted faith come from? Elise’s parents split when she was young. She and her two older brothers watched their mom go back to school and work. With no support when Ms. Denny was growing up, Elise would grow up watching her mother do all the things that she was told she’d never accomplish.
“I remember her working all day, then picking me up and taking me to night school with her. I used to sleep in the desk behind her in the classes. Honestly, I don’t know how she managed to pull everything off. She established our faith. She prayed with us, even when we didn’t want her to. I learned everything from her. Nothing gets her down. My mom is sunshine.”
Elise is just like that too. I asked her once what is one of the biggest lessons she’s learned from all the sickness and she told me it’s been a lot about flexibility over fear.
“When I was first married and had Bella, I remember looking at Jason as they wheeled me to go home from the hospital and saying “Do they realize we don’t know what were doing with a baby?”
If God had told me then that I would go on to have FIVE children and then get cancer, I’d have run! He gave me the grace for one child before He gave me the other four. I’ve learned that God prepares us a bit at a time. There is no revealing of the future, because we can’t handle that yet. We’re taught to get past the fear and then be flexible for HIS plan.”
Cancer has been a gift to Elise. She sees it as an opportunity from God to teach her and teach others. A self-proclaimed control freak, it was in that letting go that she saw portions of God’s plan for teaching and helping others.
One of the greatest parts of this “gift” is that she’s seen others come closer to God.
“People who would never pray and seek Jesus, tell me they do because they are praying for me. People I don’t even know or have ever met are reaching out to God and getting a better relationship with Him while praying for me. It’s both humbling and wonderful.
I’m just trying to be God’s vessel, to give hope.”
We went on to talk about purpose. How amazing is the intricate lace of how every little thing is full purpose? There is purpose in the little things as well as the big picture.
“My purpose is to find hope and make good come from all of this. That’s what God wants us all to do with our issues.”
And she is.
“Through losing my hair I’ve been able to teach my kids about what true beauty is. They understand it in a whole new way. My laugh is the same. My smile is the same. I hug them the same. I’m the same person with hair as I am without. Now my kids can know that someone is the same regardless of what they look like.”
In a world where the beauty impressed upon young girls is superficial, Elise is true beauty personified.