Our hearts grinded to an abrupt stop on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 2:30 PM. Like standing on an island of doom in the middle of a Walmart shopping aisle, first April and then I could only hear two words echoing over the waves of life: “metastatic cancer.”
The day before my dear wife, April, had had an MRI scan performed on her lower back. We feared a slipped disc, medical bills, and few weeks of recovery. All these outcomes were serious but none were insurmountable. But the report that reached our ears as we managed to pick out cheese puffs and cans of condensed milk spoke of a challenge that would press our faith to its end. April had metastatic cancer. My bride, my best friend, and my favorite counselor, and Luke, Lily, and Lacey’s mommy was sick beyond belief.
Just a day before we would celebrate the seventh anniversary of our engagement when April told me, “Oh yes” as I presented her with a ring on one knee, we found ourselves staring into the hopeless waves of death.
We spent the ensuing Friday afternoon and the following five days in a daze. We sat in doctor’s office after doctor’s office and learned that April’s blood work, CT Scan, mammogram, ultrasounds, and biopsy all confirmed the original foreboding report of stage four breast cancer.
Though we are still in the process of determining the scope and nature of April’s treatment plan, we believe April should be able to maintain a high quality of life for at least the next 5-7 years (We hope to beat that number, given April’s youth and vitality). April and I at times find this news encouraging. Multiple times over the last nine days, we have feared that April had only months to live. Conversations about years seems far more promising than those about days and months. Yet, we still find the news to be an audaciously formidable tempest. It’s sovereign winds will push our little family into an uncharted ocean, containing many highs and lows. We hope to navigate safely through the waves for the next five years; and then, we will attempt to make it another five years. And will happily take another five after that and beyond.
But our ultimate hope resides not in medicine or treatments or doctors. Our hope rests in Christ. We believe that April’s sickness was sent as Jesus said in John 9:3, “that the works of God might be displayed,” in her. We believe God would be glorified through April being saved from these waves of cancerous death. She and I and our families have prayed like never before, pleading for our God to hear our cries. As we cry, we trust God will not give us snakes and stones but, “good thing[s] to those who ask him (Matt. 7:7-11)!” As Paul reminds us, God, “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus thought all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” This is the God we turn to in faith, pleading for healing for April. He is our hope and our strong tower.
And we look to God for miraculous help not because we our worthy of God’s special favor. April and I both identify with the Psalmist when he says, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” We know we have no right to stand before God; we have nothing to offer him as our service, our abilities, our talents, and our earthly attainments come from him. Rather, we appeal to our God because he is the God who forgives. As the Psalmist reminds us “But with you there is forgiveness that you may be feared.” April and I can approach the throne room of God because Jesus has saved us from our sins. Jesus’ loving father is our loving father. We know that the God who saves week and feeble sinners is the same God who delivers the sick from illness. Jesus raised Lazarus from dead because he had redeemed his soul. We plead with God to save April from the clutches of death because of He has triumphed over the Grave and sits at the right hand of the father!
Pray for God to be glorified through April’s sickness.
Pray for April’s salvation from cancer. Pray she is healed and the Lord prolongs her life.
Pray that our children will not be harden to the gospel because of April’s sickness.
Pray for God to grow and to strengthen our faith and the faith of all touched by this trial.
Pray that we would not fear the suffering that is before us but each day find the strength we need in Christ alone.
How Can I Help As I Pray?
1. Point us and our family to Christ! As the Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his word I hope.” We need the Word of God. April is fighting cancer, but she and I and our family are ultimately fighting for our faith in the midst of cancer. And the best encouragement for the weak and hurting is the Word of God. Pray God’s promises for us. Write to us of God’s promises. And tells us of God’s promises when you give us hugs.
2. Join us in grieving this evil. Cancer is evil. The creation groans with the agony of sin (Rom 8:19-23). We should cry, pray, and plead when evil touches the core of our hearts. The Gospel is predicated on the idea that we exchanged the perfection of Eden for bodies of death. April’s cancer is a sign of that exchange. It reminds us of why Christ came and why we need him to come again. We should grief her illness and cry out to God about this evil, trusting in God’s ability to triumph over evil.
3. Celebrate April’s life. My dear wife is very much with me, our three kids, and our church family today. Breast cancer threatens her, our marriage, and our kids. But her cancer has not won and does not define her. She is first and foremost still a daughter of the king, a laborer for the fields ripe for harvest. As part of the people of God, April and I are hoping for God to do above and beyond what we think possible. And as we navigate this storm, we rejoice in the reality that every day is gift from God! Psalm 3:4-5 states, “I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” Do not mourn her and pity her. Celebrate the God who sustains her!
4. Please share secondary helps cautiously and hug us more. April’s hope and my hope for this time is not an essential oil or a vitamin supplement, or an exercise plan. Friends, our hope is in God. Psalm 119:92-93 says, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.” The power for life, the ability to keep going, and the hope for tomorrow does not come from our attempts at fixing this broken world. It comes from God.
We do not discount the natural aids of God. We are surrounded by faithful friends who are working tirelessly to help us find the best medical care available. Pray for them and for us to have wisdom. But our hope is not modern medicine. And our hope is not some magic elixir. Our hope is God’s amazing love for his people.
Moreover, the best and most scriptural secondary helps are hugs and hospitality, and care. We welcome those! See below.
5. We welcome physical and practical help. Though we do not know all of our needs at this point, we know we cannot walk this journey alone. We need and most defiantly have the help of our family. We need the love and support of our church family. And we embrace the love and prayers from our brothers and sisters around the world.
We will also need help with doctor’s appointments, childcare, meals, medical costs and a host of other things as we discover our new normal. We will know more about our needs over the next few weeks.
At the moment, we are doing well. April’s family is here with us in Virginia and friends both at Amissville Baptist Church and from afar are helping us with the medical side of things.
You can reach us via snail-mail at : P.O. Box 637/ Amissville, VA 20106
You are also welcome two reach out to the elders of Amissville Baptist Church, Mark Hockensmith and Bill Brown, at: 540-937-6159.
Though April and I welcome inquirers and emails, calls, and texts of support, they can be overwhelming at times. We appreciate your patience with our responses.
We do plan to also keep posting updates here at witkowskiblog.com
Thank you for your love, prayers, and never-ending support.
God is good!
Sustained By Grace Through Faith,
Peter & April