Memo: The Regathered Storm – March 2021

The words sent our souls sprawling across the sands of life. Stunned, April and I tried to comprehend what her oncologist had just said: “Her cancer has grown and we need to discuss new treatment options.” As the wave of bad news receded, April and I found ourselves unexpectedly pulled back into the murky waters of breast cancer as we stared at the walls of the 10th floor exam room. The doctor went on to tell us that April’s latest scans revealed the formation of 10 new tumors in her liver. All ten had materialized since her lasts scans on December 23rd. One breast cancer tumor measured a centimeter and a half in diameter. She also developed four new insignificant cancerous spots in her lungs. Though the cancer in her bones and breast remain stable, her new cancer growths revealed that her first line of treatment has failed. The first sea wall of protection composed of hormonal treatments has been breached by this dark storm.

We thank God for the past twenty-three months of success. Still, we had longed for more time. Since the medicine had repulsed more than one fear blown wave, we had begun to believe that April’s health was relatively secure. With the storm clouds fading into the horizon, we had begun to build tiny, happy, little structures in the sands of life, basking in the sun of providence. This past Wednesday morning, the waves of breast cancers washed our little sandcastles away and began pulling us back towards the law of averages, a beacon that often proves more ominous than hopeful.

With regards to what happens next, April and I have more questions than answers at this time. On Friday, March 19, April exited the Promise study at The Mayo Clinic and stopped taking her medications. Though she may continue to seek treatment in Minnesota, she and her doctors no longer know which principles of navigation should guide her journey. In an effort to determine what should be the guiding star for the second phase of her treatment, April underwent multiple blood tests and a liver biopsy while at Mayo. The reports should lay anchor within the next two weeks. At that time, she will work with her medical teams at Mayo and UVA to create a second treatment plan. Once we have charted our next course forward through this uncertain storm, we will share that information with you.

Though some things about our circumstances appear set against us, we know our God is forever for us. At times we cannot help but wonder why our good God would allow April’s cancer to flood back into our lives. Our children are so young; our church ministry is so new; and our marriage is so dear. At first glance, his plan for us seemingly does not align with the course that April and I would chart. But if we have been left to our own plans in years past, April and I would not be married; nor would we have our three little kids or our precious church family. Because God did not consult us and our foolish sentiments when forming his plans for us, April and I have the good gifts we that we hold so dearly as the waters rage today. We are confident that the God who has guided our lives by his love to towards the edge of this storm will be with us as we sail into its breakers.

Contact Info:

Email us at: biblefighter@gmail.com 

snail-mail at : P.O. Box 637/ Amissville, VA 20106

call us at: 540-937-6159.

Support us at: April Witkowski Medical Fund (gofundme.com)

We will posting updates here at witkowskiblog.com

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

Memo: April’s Cancer Update – Christmas 2020

As we wait for the glories of the Christ child to once again pierce the darkness of Christmas Eve, April and I want to bear witness to how the Christ child has blessed us this December. This past Monday, April endured her latest set of scans replete with needle pricks, swallowable dyes, and not so comfortable beds that drift in an out of large machines. Then like children bouncing around the house the night before Christmas, we waited to unwrap the results. On Wednesday, December 23, 2020 with the help of April’s talented UVA medical team, we unwrapped the latest report and found good news! Though a few new nondescript nodules have dotted the scans like misplaced Christmas light, the overwhelming majority of her tumors have either shrunk or remained stable. One has even decreased from 4.5 centimeters to 3.2 centimeters. The favor of Jesus rests upon my sweet bride.

But that divine favor does not eliminate all sorrow and hardships. Much like the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge, April and I find ourselves living in the past, present and future. We look back at the pain and uncertainty that hovered over our last Christmas and give thanks for the radical improvements that have occurred in April’s body. She just made a Yule Log Cake (Hello Christmas!). We seek to stay in the present reveling in the good news of the day as we watch our three kiddos open Christmas presents, embrace Christmas cookie decorating, and sing “Joy to the World” at the top of their lungs. Lastly, the future also hangs about us like a damp, ill-defined midst. We know April will have to endure more scans, back pain, and days away from our children. April wishes she could reshape her future like Scrooge. Sadly, it remains both fixed and elusive.

Though we do not know what the content of the next report will be, we do know something of the sender’s character. He is our savior, the Christmas child, Christ the Lord! Psalm 100:5 declares, “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever.” We know this is true because the baby in the manger, lived, died, and rose again to save sinners like April and me. He humbled himself to the point of death on the cross so that we might be exalted to live with God. And he guides us through life with more love and power than even one of Scrooge’s spirits. The famed pastor and theologian, John Calvin, rightly noted that when God’s people descend into hardship, “[God] will not desert them, but will powerfully help them should they need his aid.” In short, the light of Christmas morning reminds us that our future will be snuggly wrapped in the love of God. Though the results of April’s scan will invariably contain variation, we know the love of God will remain fixed. Because of that first Christmas long past, we too can sing with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased (Lk 2:14)!”

Thank you for rejoicing with us this cold December day. We covet your prayers and support. They warm our hearts, manifesting the love of God. We hope our good news infuses a little gospel cheer into your Christmas celebration.

More importantly, we pray that you too will discover the joy of the Shepherds, and of Mary and Joseph who knew that Jesus, “the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people the sheep of his pasture.” God is good all the time!  

Merry Christmas!  

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.

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