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

 

Memo: In Memory of My Church Mom: The Loving Jean Miller

Jean Miller

Words faded into tears as the news of Jean Miller’s death sunk into our souls. Though we were separated by age, time, and space, April and I were knit into Jean’s heart.

Shortly after the death of our first-born son, Peter Alexander, Jean gave April and me the biggest hugs and adopted us into her family, promising our families that She and Junior would look after us. From the moment forward, I was her “church son.” And she was April’s and my “church mother.”

IMG_5525She loved us well She put her arm around our shoulders as we grieved the loss of 2nd Peter. She struck that glorious balance between allowing us to grieve and keeping us from despair. Every tear-filled conversation ended with glorious reminders of Jesus’s love and goodness.

When the sun of God’s grace shinned upon our lives, Jean celebrated with us, cherishing both Luke and Lily. She greeted our kids with smiles and found ways to playful extract them from their caves of shyness. Despite’s Lily’s obstinate character, Jean never gave up trying to get our little ice queen to smile. IMG_6055Jean would stick her fingers into ears and would scrunch up her face into the funniest contortions. Somehow, Junior still got Lily to smile first, a feat Jean could never understand.Her lap was always available to them; Luke and Lily used it often. When cancer descended upon April, she and Junior were some of the first friends to call us and to pray for us. Her love for us never ended.

When her insecure “church son” launched a leadership team to minister to the families of FBCE, she and Junior took a chance and linked arms with April and me. Jean walked with April and I through insane VBS weeks, exciting nerf-guns battles, and vintage Reformation Festivals. I can still see Jean dressed in her bonnet covering and uncovering a host of fake relics as she and Junior explained the importance of salvation by grace alone.

IMG-5419I can also see Jean shaking with laughter as she and Junior explained the meaning of the rat emoji that she accidentally texted to the whole team. Though she loved to laugh, she also kept her family and all of us in line. Anytime Junior, Ian Wynn, or someone else took something too far like the expression, “The Face of Discipline” Jean would give ‘the look’ followed by a “Hey now” and return things to order. She brought laughter a joy into every life she touched.

But, the thing I remember most about Jean was her smile. Come the fun of church picnics, the craziness of Wednesday nights, or anniversary of her daughter’s death, Jean always smiled. The joy that adorned her face transcended reality and yet was grounded in the truest reality of all: the saving mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though her heart IMG-5421had been nicked and scared by many a hardship, she knew the saving power of Jesus Christ. She seen Jesus transform both her life and Junior’s life. Nothing could take that joy from her. Even when she was worn and tired, the peace of Jesus shone in her face and resounded in her laughter. Her smile shone brightly when she bounded up from our table and washed the our dishes. It was that smile that graciously welcomed April and our kids into her home and kept our kids from wanting to ever leave Jean’s living room. And it was that smile, that lit up the church as Jean taught Sunday School, helped in the nursery, and swung by the welcome desk to ask how

April and I were doing. Indeed, Christ was in Jean. To see her smile was to catch a glimpse of heaven.

Yesterday, that glimpse of heaven ascended into heaven. Jean smile is the now the smile of perfect peace and happiness. Indeed heaven is her greatest gain. “Those the son sets free are free indeed (John 8:36).”  I cannot wish her back into the bondage of this miserable world.

But I also cannot help but miss my “church mom’s” infectious smile.

With much Love,

Peter and April Witkowski

Memo: April’s Breast Cancer Christmas 2019 Update

witkowski-christmas-updayApril’s cancer has settled into place like the soft Minnesota snow.  According to the last round of tests, April’s cancer has become “stable.” The tumors in her breast, back, and liver have neither grown nor shrunk since her October scans. April and I wish her hormone therapy drugs would have further melted her cancer. But, the doctors consider stability a win and a further proof that her treatment is succeeding. We will happily snuggle into this message of good news this cold winter morning.

More importantly, we remain hopeful this winter season because the God of Christmas reigns. These past few weeks. April and I have learned afresh that the story of Christmas is the story of salvific hope. God sends a baby to Elizabeth and Zachariah after a lifetime of infertility. God transforms a poor, no-nothing girl named Mary into one of the most revered women of history. And, the king of heaven sends angels to bring Good news of great joy to lowly shepherds. With all our hearts, we know that this good God of Christmas is our God. We know that he never distances himself from us and that he never becomes to distracted by world events to care for insignificant people like us. Moreover, we know that God can do the miraculous, answering prayers years after they have been prayed. God delights in giving his children good gifts. Thus, our hearts overflow with hope because the God of Elizabeth, Mary, and the Shepherds is our God as well.

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In a small way, we have seen the goodness of God this past week in while exploring the frozen plains of Minnesota. Our three amigos took to the airport with enthusiasm, riding the trams, moving through security, and watching the planes with eyes filled with amazement. They were wowed by the size of Mayo, finding its massive expanse of hallways to be a wonderful maze filled with elevators, chairs, and food. They loved the mall of America. Our oldest got to explore the spinning rides of the Nickelodeon theme park while his sisters and parents embraced shopping and some pastries from Carlo’s Bake Shop.

Throughout our travels, we enjoyed these precious moments which reminded us of our precancer selves. April and I loved watching our five-year-old become more and more of a little man, carrying suitcases, opening doors, and hopping onto rides that would have scared him silly a few months ago. We have smiled at each other as we listened to our three-year-old lead her siblings in rousing renditions of Mary Had a Little Lamb and Jingle Bells. And we have been warmed with joy as our one-year-old freely dispensed hugs and smiles. Moreover, we have loved seeing our newly engaged cousin, one of ABC’s former interns, and one of our dear sisters-in-law. This past week, we had the unique opportunity to unite with old friends and family in a new place. God has been so very good to us these past days and always.

unnamed-17.jpgThe good days have grown in length. But they still remain tainted by the occasional snow storm. April falls into lows after every high, suffering from back pain, fatigue, and nausea. We still do not know what April strength level will be in 2020. We will be seeking wisdom from above as we attempt to create a new normal lifestyle for our little family in the early weeks of January. And, we do not know how long the bulwark of “stability” will keep the wicked blizzard of cancer from sweeping back down into our lives. The shadow of vagueness resides over our lives. But the hope of Jesus shines every clearly across our horizon. The God of Christmas reigns. Our God reigns. We have every reason to rejoice this Christmas.

We are also deeply thankful for the many dear family members, friends, and church members who have helped us navigate our stormy 2019. You have selflessly watched our kids, brought us meals, supported us financially, and covered our church responsibilities. To borrow from the medical world, April and I have the best support system that we could ever ask for!  Thank you!

Please continue to pray for that our hearts will remain fixed upon the things of above where Jesus resides. Please continue to pray that our kids will come to know the baby in the manger as their Lord and savior. And pray that God will heal April.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

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 two reach out to 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.

Merry Christmas!

Sustained By Grace Through Faith,

Peter and April