Editor’s Note 5.20.22:

(Since the posting of this blog on Sunday, April’s bilirubin numbers have increased and indicate her liver is slowly failing. Acting on an abundance of caution, her medical team admitted her to the hospital on 5/16. She left the hospital on Wednesday 5/18 after receiving Gemcitabine, an IV Chemo that packs more of a punch than Xeloda. We will visit with her medical team next week and post an update then, seeking to make sense of all that has happened this week.)

We do not like bad news. And yet it is once again our currency. April’s latest scans and blood tests reveal that her cancer has once again out maneuvered her treatment regimen and has begun to grow freely. To stunt this new growth, April will take a new chemotherapy pill at the beginning of next week.

What Happened?

As the pictures on our various social media platforms make clear, this news blindsided us. Though April has had a few bad days this past week, she had regained increase mobility and strength over the last few months. She has played chauffer to our kids, cooked meals, fixed hair, helped with homework, and done many of the things that give her and all of us a taste of what life was like before cancer invaded. Perhaps even more remarkably, April completed her main physical therapy goal of walking more than a mile at a historical site. A few weeks ago, she toured Jamestown, Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg like a pro. She never showed the signs of extreme exhaustion and fatigue that defined her while she was on her intravenous chemotherapy regime. Despite some digestive issues (which could be noticeable at times), April seemingly had reached one of those restful plateaus within her cancer journey.

Given our most recent experiences, both April and I anticipated that her May 3rd scans would bring tidings of health. But as we all now know; those scans and the ensuing blood work would cruelly shatter our expectations. First, the scans came back showing shadowy images which suggested that the breast cancer tumors in April’s breast and lymph nodes had grown, and that a new tumor had formed in the kidney closest to her liver. To bring clarity to these images, April’s Oncologist ordered new labs to be drawn. The results of her blood work which measure tumor markers and liver function revealed that the shadowy clouds in her scans are most likely not illusions but the very thing itself. If the cancer has not grown in the spots identified in the scans, it is growing somewhere with enough force to bring deadly harm. In short, the breast cancer cells that have brought so much harm to April’s body and our lives since 2019 have once again begun marching forward bent on even greater destruction.

Thankfully, the effects of this new invasion have only just begun to materialize. This week, April’s liver produced the first signs of abdominal swelling and pain. Though the threat of additional symptoms remains forever real, they have not yet arrivied. Seeking to begin the new treatment before those effects poke significant holes into April’s quality of life, her medical team decided that she should begin taking the drug Xeloda at the beginning of next week. If the drug works, April will take three pills twice a day for two weeks. She will then take a week off. The two weeks on and one week off cycle should be able to combat April’s cancer for the next 6-8 months.

How Are We Doing?

In one sense the news of tumor growth has not shocked us. Intellectually, we both know that April’s cancer will spread, and that each treatment has a limited shelf life determined by the genetic composition of April’s cancer. And yet in another sense, the news does carry with it a certain amount of shock value, forcing us once again to think about this evil disease and the fragileness of life. Moreover, transitions between treatments prove to be an unsettling experience. Neither the medicine’s effectiveness nor its side effects come with full prove guarantees. The first 2-4 weeks of these transitions often contain a series of surprises and unanticipated twists. Few of them are good. For example, one Xeloda’s more prominent side effects is hand and foot syndrome which produces large sores in one’s palms and the soles of their feet could. April could soon struggle to walk and do simple household tasks. Though expected, the transition between treatments wearies our souls. We’d rather not go through the process of deconstructing today’s normal for the purpose of constructing a new normal that promises to be at least a little more difficult than the one we just tore down. We dislike such devolution.

And yet we remain hopefully. From a medical standpoint, April still possesses many other treatment options. Though life may get harder faster than we had anticipate, this news does not point to the end of April’s life. Her overall outlook remains unchanged.

Most importantly, our God has not changed. We know from Psalm 86 that the effectiveness of our prayer comes not from our power to persuade but from our need. The psalmist writes, “Incline your ear O Lord and answer me for I am poor and needy.” Thankfully our God who controls the stars and determined the fate of the dinosaurs still cares deeply about April, having numbered every one of her regrowing hairs. At times this week, our hearts have been very low. And our souls have felt the stresses of the moment. But our God has remained forever great. There is no one like him among the gods. Thus, we turn to him afresh, trusting that he will help us and comfort us even when we feel surrounded by cancer. Our God is gracious and merciful today just as much as he was yesterday. We look to him for hope afresh.

Prayer Requests

As always, we invite you to pray for us. Pray that the new chemotherapy pills will shrink April’s breast cancer tumors. Pray that Xeloda will last the full 8 months. Pray that the drug takes effect before April’s new cancer symptoms settle in and that her side-effects will be minimal. Pray that the Xeloda pills provide April and me with a new normal that will allow her to freely walk, do housework, and homeschool our kiddos for at least one more semester. Pray for God to give us patience with our children when the days are long, and the cancer symptoms are present. And pray for God to bless us with the wisdom that we need to navigate these times of uncertainty that begin with April’s cancer’s and yet possess the power to shape most every aspect of our lives. Come talk to the God of mercies with us.

Thank you!

Contact Info

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SNAIL-MAIL: P.O. BOX 637/ AMISSVILLE, VA 20106

CALL US AT: 540-937-6159.

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20 thoughts on “New Growth: April’s Cancer Update 5.15.22

  1. Progression and the sneaky cancer cells can shatter hope and so many expectations. I’ve been on Xeloda and Taxotere since February and the experience hasn’t been too terrible. Looking forward to “just” taking Xeloda after the next Taxotere infusion. Stock up on Epsom salts and creams for the hand foot syndrome!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So Very Sorry! Love and Prayers WILL Continue for ALL OF YOU!! I Truly admire your Faith and Peace! Praying for God to continue to care for you and your family and to Heal April in Jesus Name!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You could never tell by the Facebook pictures that this is going on in April’s body. She always looks so radiant and always has a smile. We will continue to pray for all of you.

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  4. Our prayers will continue for April. We will also continue to pray for you and your children. God will give you both the strength to deal with this terrible disease. Love you all. 🙏🙏🙏❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Praying for God’s peace and healing. Praying for the Lord to bless you with good days and new sweet memories with your precious children.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We are so often praying for April and the family. I am sad to hear this. We will be praying for a good outcome and very little side effects from this new treatment. We love your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so thankful for the many treatments that are being offered for April so that she can continue to grasp precious time and memories! I pray in these next mos for the Lord to allow a journey that is not full of pain but peace! Listen for God’s voice and try to stay happy in this news – we love you! Selena w

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    1. April is such a brave, wonderful wife and mother! She is an inspiration to her family and friends. She has and continues to set an example of true Christian life and service to her family , church and friends! May Our God protect her, guide her, give her peace and love! My prayers and love are with you and Peter and your family!

      Liked by 1 person

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