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: 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

 

Memo: April’s Breast Cancer Update October 2019 Rays of Hope!

hope-pictureGolden rays of hope have torn through the grey skies of April’s cancer. We can happily report that April’s hormone therapy is working.

According to April’s medical team at the Mayo Clinic, the majority of April’s tumors have stabilized or shrunk. The tumors in April’s back and chest have stopped growing. The tumors in her breast and her liver have slightly decreased in size. In short, April’s treatment has taken off and is safely airborne. God is good!

Admittedly, the length of our flight remains a mystery. Doctors can speak of averages and stats. Because this first treatment has succeeded and promises to keep succeeding for a time, April’s outlook has become far brighter. But April’s journey will ultimately not be unbound by averages and projections. Only the limits of divine providence can accurately predicted what will come next. We happily entrust our souls into the wise hands of our all powerful Heavenly Father.

For the past several months, we have joined David and pleaded with God to hear our cries and to listen to our prayers for deliverance. Indeed, our hearts were faint many a day and night as we wrestled through the turbulence of bad reports and the realities of April’s failing health.

But today, our hearts can echo the sentiment of David that that the Lord has led April, “to the rock, that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy (Ps 61:2-3).” God has rescued us from being swept away by the waters of cancer. He has been the rock of certainty that has upheld us as we wrestled with our worst fears. And now, He has been the strong tower that has rescued us from the deadly clutches of cancer. The light of hope has filled our hearts.

As our church family knows, the Mayo reports confirm April’s recent experiences. For the better part of three weeks, April has attended church, visited the girls’ music class, and gone on errands without being sidelined by back or leg pain. For brief moments, April has had to sit down and embrace her heating pad.  But overall, she has regained a quality of life that has escaped her and our family since her diagnosis in May. April’s plane has turned towards the glorious destination of health.

What Comes Next 

Going forward, April’s physical experiences will continue to give her and our family insights into her future. If her engines lose power, she will under go additional medical tests and treatment to see if her cancer has grown. But if she flies smoothly through life, we can be confident that her treatment’s continues to succeed.

Though April’s quality of life has risen from the 1-3 level to the 4-6 level, her medical team hopes to return her to the 8-10 level. To achieve the highest quality of life possible, April will pursue radiation treatment for her lower back. Though the treatment will sideline her for two weeks or so at end of this year, it promises to give her an even brighter quality of life going forward.

We praise God for today’s good report!

This encouraging development allows us to start strategizing for the future. We anticipate traveling to the Mayo clinic every three months. We can also can begin to plot our medical costs with some accuracy.

Dear family, church members, friends, prayer partners, thank you for boarding this flight with us and for upholding our faith with your prayers and encouragements. When we have doubted our destination and questioned our God, you have reminded us of God’s goodness, power, and love. Thank you! And thank you for rejoicing with us today!

We ask you to keep praying for us as we fly into the horizon of hope. Pray that God will allow April to see her children walking with the Lord. Pray that God we will grow our faith. Pray that God will be glorified by this illness. And pray that God will heal April!

Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings (Ps 61:4)!

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 the elders of Amissville Baptist Church, Mark Hockensmith and Bill Brown, at: 540-937-6159.

GOFundMe Page

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 plan to also keep posting updates here at witkowskiblog.com

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

Sustained By Grace Through Faith,

Peter and April