Memo: April’s Cancer Update – September 2020

As 2019 spun out of our control, we longed for normal. Even boring sounded nice as we ducked in and out of ER rooms and traveled 900 miles for medical appointments seeking to realign April’s health which had been rocked by stage four breast cancer. Earlier this week, God blessed April and I with the gift of normalcy.

Her latest round of CT and bone scans revealed that April’s cancer has continued to weaken. The tumors in her breast and lymph-nodes have gone down every so slightly.  The tumors in her bones remain stable. And, the small tumors in her liver continue to shrink. One has disappeared. Though the cancer still rumbles about in the background of our lives, both the medical team and the Witkowskis breathed a deep sigh of relief this week wound down. God had heard our prayers. April’s health has mostly returned.

Though the Coronavirus has reduced the American way of life down to an one lane traffic zone, April and I have been able to maximize the slowdown as we merged back into the life that we once knew. I’m able to keep somewhat stable offices hours under the watch of mini Calvin and Luther statues. April has jumped back into the kitchen equipped with a knife and a wealth of culinary knowledge. Hello, fresh meals! Every Monday-Friday, our kids bounce down the stairs to the kitchen table to report the weather, sing songs, and recite Bible verses that define their homeschool circle time. The simplicity that seemed forever out of reach has returned to the Witkowski family in a large measure.

The quarterly cancer checkups will remain a fixture on our calendar for the foreseeable future. April will continue to work with her Mayo Clinic Team and her University of Virginia Team to track her cancer, update medicines, and maintain her health. But in the coming days, April’s health visits should shift away from thoughts of life-saving collision repair to intense-but typical maintenance. For example, her back-pain and fatigue are some other areas that require constant checks. But none prove life threatening. Though her medical teams embrace her with the warmth of heated leather seats, the tests themselves remain cold, possessing the charm of drills removing lug-nuts. They will never be her or mine favorite activity as they point to the brokenness of this world. We much prefer driving through the scenic Blue Ridge mountains to sitting in an office with a gurney, a bench, and a nondescript watercolor painting on the wall. But we rejoice that these visits have begun to transition from being THE thing on our calendar to being merely a thing on our calendar. God has been faithful.

When He calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.

Psalm 91:15-16
April At Mayo

Thank you for praying for April. Thank you for rejoicing with us. Please join us in offering up thanks to the Maker of heaven and earth. Please keep praying for April’s healing. Her back pain and fatigue rumble out of alinement at times. Her back pain remains a symptom of her muscle fatigue and the initial tumor growth. The doctors think her fatigue which can bring her day to a sudden stop during the early evening hours is caused by her medication. Adjusting dosages will be one of those ongoing maintenance issues.  Pray that God will bless her with strength. Lastly, please ask God to give us wisdom as we seek to engage in hospitality and to love of our neighbors in this time of COVID-19.

P.S.

If the space between these updates grows, please rest assured no news is good news. We are busy traveling through the world of normalcy.

Contact Info:

Email us at: biblefighter@gmail.com 

You can reach us via snail-mail at : P.O. Box 637/ Amissville, VA 20106

You are also welcome call Amissville Baptist Church at: 540-937-6159.

GOFundMe Page

We will posting updates here at witkowskiblog.com

Thank you for your love, prayers, and never-ending support.

Sustained By Grace Through Faith,

Peter and April

Memo: April’s Cancer Update – June 2020

Invisible smiles. To unmask the secret workings of April’s cancer, she and I had to cover our faces with blue, three-ply fabric bound together by elastic string seemingly designed to afflict one’s ears. Though the masks hid our smiles, they could not damper the gleam of hope in our eyes.

While the Coronavirus crisis has been a season of death, hardship, and unrest for many, April and I have found these last months to be a fruitful time of hope. April has been able to disciple and educate our children and manage a majority of the day-to-day tasks of our home. She still battles fatigue and muscle pain as she fulfills her goals for her life and for our family. Though few have been able to peak behind the outside mask of our house, April and I can both affirm it has been filled with smiles both small and big.

God has been faithful and kind to us. We have found the words of Psalm 118:5 to be true:

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.

Though we have been weak, frail, unbelieving, confused, and depressed at times, God has been faithful. He has heard our sad souls and has sustained us by his mercy these past few months. When the coronavirus restrictions landed, we could have been laid bare. Instead, we have been infused with hope and faith as God has done more in April’s body and in our souls than we could ever imagine. Our hearts echoed the words of Psalm 118:1,

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Though our souls have been often hidden from public view these last few months, they abound with hopeful smiles.

We arrived at the Mayo clinic somewhat nervous to be at Mayo (after all no one truly likes hospitals). But, our disposition was still decidedly more hopeful than not. As we moved about the elevators decorated with yellow tape and sat in chairs spaced six feet apart that reduced the chances sharing either germs or causal conversations, the faint smiles on our faces grew. When the doctor unmasked the latest, findings, we smiled with joy.

According to April’s Mayo team, the treatment is working. All of her tumors have either stabilized or shrunk since her last scan. Most of the cancer spots have also decreased in either size or intensity. Though our faces were rendered invisible by masks, we could not help by secretly smile because we know God has heard our prayers and your prayers!

Most likely, our smiles will remain hidden for the foreseeable future since the Coronavirus refuses to surrender to the assaults of modern medicine. April and I will continue to follow social distancing and mask protocols. Because of her cancer and treatments, April remains susceptible to the Coronavirus which has claimed more than 120,000 lives this year. We long for the return to normal. But we know that day is not here yet.

We ask you to join us in praying for that day, for April’s medication to keep working, for us to have wisdom as we seek to live out the gospel in this COVID19 world while balancing love and safety, for us to have opportunities to share Christ, and for our kids to be drawn to Christ through this ordeal.

Though our smiles remain hidden because of the masks of space and time, they remain full of hope. Thank you for praying with us and for smiling with us today!

Contact Info:

Email us at: biblefighter@gmail.com 

You can reach us via snail-mail at : P.O. Box 637/ Amissville, VA 20106

You are also welcome call Amissville Baptist Church at: 540-937-6159.

GOFundMe Page

We will posting updates here at witkowskiblog.com

Thank you for your love, prayers, and never-ending support.

Sustained By Grace Through Faith,

Peter and April

Memo: April’s Cancer Update – April 2020

covid 19 blogThe world we spoke of last December has been transformed by the COVID-19 crisis. In our last update, we talked about airplane rides, hospital excursions, and theme park rides. Now, we wear masks to the grocery store, avoid airplanes, and enter hospitals with trepidation. The world of April’s healthcare has also been profoundly shaped by the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the coronavirus threateningly flies above our world, April’s health remains secure from the present threat of cancer. Her latest bone scan and CT scan have arrived full of good news. The tumors in her bones remain unchanged, having neither grown nor shrunk. And the tumors in her breast, lymph nodes, and liver have shrunk. We praise God for this good report. April can continue on with her current treatment plan.

Despite the good news, our home remains on high alert because of the COVID-19 threat.

April resides in the high-risk category because of her cancer and because her medications suppress her immune system. Were she to contract COVID-19, her chances for survival would be substantially lower than the average person. Moreover, doctors have noted that women with estrogen tend to be less susceptible to the virus. Since April has Her2- PR+ and ER+ cancer, she takes medicine that eliminates all of the estrogen from her body, placing her at greater risk than most. Not wanting to chance her health, we have embraced the quarantine, turning our home into a little fortress.

Because the COVID-19 dragon roams about our state, we have temporally shut our door to hospitality. We no longer accept the gracious offers of our friends to clean our house, cook us meals, and to watch our children. To strengthen our defenses, we stepped away from birthday parties and other social gatherings more than a week before the President recommended that all groups be limited to ten or less people. We limited Lily’s butterfly, dance, birthday party to our two fairy princes and one knight. We seldom cross the drawbridge of isolation into the COVID-19 world, visiting stores about once a week without leaving our car. We spend the remainder of our time, working from home, Cloroxing packages, and playing with our little kiddos. Luke, Lily, and Lacey have become acquainted with the virus, telling neighbor that they can’t play because of the coronavirus. Though we lament the need to fortify our home, we do not want April’s health to be undone by secondary causes.

IMG-7678 (1)We have not been the only one to mobilize our defenses. Both the Mayo Clinic and the University of Virginia have locked down their campuses. As the spread of the virus swept across the nation, April remained in contact with both medical teams. With one voice, the doctors at Mayo and UVA recommended moving April’s scans from Minnesota to Virginia, breaking protocol so that April could continue her treatment in the safest environment available.

Though the trip to Charlottesville takes about an hour, April found her trip this past Tuesday to be just as daunting as her six plus hour trips to Mayo. For the first time in her cancer journey, April had to go to an appointment without me. We did not want to expose our family to the outside world. When she arrived at the hospital, she went through numerous screenings. As she walked through the hospital that bore an eerie resemblance to this dystopian movie, she saw orange warning sign after orange warning sign requiring patients to keep their distance and to report their symptoms to a healthcare worker. She then sat in the “high-risk” waiting area, catching only glimpses of fellow, mask wearing patients being overseen by medical staff and security guards. Spaces that usually contained 30 to 50 patients now held only her. Thankfully all the precautions proved effective. April crossed the drawbridge back into our little fortress seemingly untouched by COVID-19.

Though the world suffers under darkness, our little fortress bustles with joy because we have seen God answer our prayers. He has blessed April with good scans. Moreover, as challenges related to the COVID-19 crisis have arisen, God has given April the strength to meet them. When the year began, April lacked the strength to cook meals, to clean, and to care for our kids. The past ten months, we have prayed for God to bless April with the ability to clean and to manage and teach our children at home. Today, she is able to do both.  We can say with the Psalmist, “Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.” Our hearts are full of thanks! Thank you for praying for us.

Please continue to lift us up to the Lord.

  1. Pray that God will heal April and keep her and our family safe from COVID-19.
  2. Pray that God will give us wisdom as we seek to balance caring for April and caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  3. Pray that God will continue to give April daily strength and energy.
  4. Pray that the quarantine will strengthen our marriage and our relationships with our children.
  5. Pray that God would save our children.

 

Contact Info:

Email us at: biblefighter@gmail.com 

You can reach us via snail-mail at : P.O. Box 637/ Amissville, VA 20106

You are also welcome call Amissville Baptist Church at: 540-937-6159.

GOFundMe Page

We will  posting updates here at witkowskiblog.com

Thank you for your love, prayers, and never-ending support.

Sustained By Grace Through Faith,

Peter and April