Memo: A Critical Few Days – April 2021

Yesterday, April entered a critical phase in her breast cancer battle. As many of you know, she began her new treatment plan this past Tuesday, April 27. But before the first pills had time to dissolve, April began to develop a discomfort on her right side. Over the last 72 hours, that pain has gone from the level of a muscle ache to a life-altering level of anguish. After spending a few hours talking with April’s medical teams, we know that the cancer tumors in her liver are producing this intense pain as well the nausea and the general sense of unwellness that has slowed her a halt. Thankfully, April’s liver has not yet reached the point of failure. That line is still a some week’s walk away. The plan today calls for April to keep taking her new potent regimen of the new clinical LY drug and the Everolimus. If the medicine works, the cancer should begin to shrink over the next few days and her liver function should increase, resulting in a far better quality of life. As we wait for that day, April will have to continue to manage her pain and nausea with prescription painkillers and nausea pills. On Tuesday, her blood tests will provide some indication of the effectiveness of the new drug. We pray that that day will bring good news.

If this plan fails, April can still fall back upon a chemotherapy treatment plan which promises to quickly shrink the tumors in her liver and elsewhere. But the move towards Chemotherapy while expedient would also exhaust most of her treatment options, shifting April’s breast cancer trajectory into a less favorable position. With a heart full of fortitude, April is pressing forward on the dark path of pain and anguish, hoping today’s suffering will produce health tomorrow.

Please pray for God to reduce the tumors in her liver. Pray for God to sustain her body as she suffers. Pray for God to comfort her soul as her body remains at war with itself. Pray for our kids to know the comfort of Christ during this time. Pray for April and me to have wisdom as we parent our children through this time. And pray that these critical days will conclude with good news.

Thank you for all of your love, support, and your messages. However, we may be slow in responding to them due to April’s health at this time. As always, we will continue to post updates here.

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)

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 Announcement

blog-post-cancer

Our hearts grinded to an abrupt stop on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 2:30 PM. Like standing on an island of doom in the middle of a Walmart shopping aisle, first April and then I could only hear two words echoing over the waves of life: “metastatic cancer.”

The day before my dear wife, April, had had an MRI scan performed on her lower back. We feared a slipped disc, medical bills, and few weeks of recovery. All these outcomes were serious but none were insurmountable. But the report that reached our ears as we managed to pick out cheese puffs and cans of condensed milk spoke of a challenge that would press our faith to its end. April had metastatic cancer. My bride, my best friend, and my favorite counselor, and Luke, Lily, and Lacey’s mommy was sick beyond belief.

Just a day before we would celebrate the seventh anniversary of our engagement when April told me, “Oh yes” as I presented her with a ring on one knee, we found ourselves staring into the hopeless waves of death.

We spent the ensuing Friday afternoon and the following five days in a daze. We sat in doctor’s office after doctor’s office and learned that April’s blood work, CT Scan, mammogram, ultrasounds, and biopsy all confirmed the original foreboding report of stage four breast cancer.

Though we are still in the process of determining the scope and nature of April’s treatment plan, we believe April should be able to maintain a high quality of life for at least the next 5-7 years (We hope to beat that number, given April’s youth and vitality). April and I at times find this news encouraging. Multiple times over the last nine days, we have feared that April had only months to live. Conversations about years seems far more promising than those about days and months. Yet, we still find the news to be an audaciously formidable tempest. It’s sovereign winds will push our little family into an uncharted ocean, containing many highs and lows. We hope to navigate safely through the waves for the next five years; and then, we will attempt to make it another five years. And will happily take another five after that and beyond.

April and Lacy 2019But our ultimate hope resides not in medicine or treatments or doctors. Our hope rests in Christ. We believe that April’s sickness was sent as Jesus said in John 9:3, “that the works of God might be displayed,” in her. We believe God would be glorified through April being saved from these waves of cancerous death. She and I and our families have prayed like never before, pleading for our God to hear our cries. As we cry, we trust God will not give us snakes and stones but, “good thing[s] to those who ask him (Matt. 7:7-11)!”  As Paul reminds us, God, “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus thought all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” This is the God we turn to in faith, pleading for healing for April. He is our hope and our strong tower.

And we look to God for miraculous help not because we our worthy of God’s special favor. April and I both identify with the Psalmist when he says, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” We know we have no right to stand before God; we have nothing to offer him as our service, our abilities, our talents, and our earthly attainments come from him. Rather, we appeal to our God because he is the God who forgives. As the Psalmist reminds us “But with you there is forgiveness that you may be feared.” April and I can approach the throne room of God because Jesus has saved us from our sins. Jesus’ loving father is our loving father. We know that the God who saves week and feeble sinners is the same God who delivers the sick from illness. Jesus raised Lazarus from dead because he had redeemed his soul. We plead with God to save April from the clutches of death because of He has triumphed over the Grave and sits at the right hand of the father!

Pray

Pray for God to be glorified through April’s sickness.

Pray for April’s salvation from cancer. Pray she is healed and the Lord prolongs her life.

Pray that our children will not be harden to the gospel because of April’s sickness.

Pray for God to grow and to strengthen our faith and the faith of all touched by this trial.

Pray that we would not fear the suffering that is before us but each day find the strength we need in Christ alone.

How Can I Help As I Pray?

1. Point us and our family to Christ! As the Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his word I hope.” We need the Word of God. April is fighting cancer, but she and I and our family are ultimately fighting for our faith in the midst of cancer. And the best encouragement for the weak and hurting is the Word of God. Pray God’s promises for us. Write to us of God’s promises. And tells us of God’s promises when you give us hugs.

2. Join us in grieving this evil. Cancer is evil. The creation groans with the agony of sin (Rom 8:19-23). We should cry, pray, and plead when evil touches the core of our hearts. The Gospel is predicated on the idea that we exchanged the perfection of Eden for bodies of death. April’s cancer is a sign of that exchange. It reminds us of why Christ came and why we need him to come again. We should grief her illness and cry out to God about this evil, trusting in God’s ability to triumph over evil.

IMG_57973. Celebrate April’s life. My dear wife is very much with me, our three kids, and our church family today. Breast cancer threatens her, our marriage, and our kids. But her cancer has not won and does not define her. She is first and foremost still a daughter of the king, a laborer for the fields ripe for harvest. As part of the people of God, April and I are hoping for God to do above and beyond what we think possible. And as we navigate this storm, we rejoice in the reality that every day is gift from God! Psalm 3:4-5 states, “I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” Do not mourn her and pity her. Celebrate the God who sustains her!

4. Please share secondary helps cautiously and hug us more. April’s hope and my hope for this time is not an essential oil or a vitamin supplement, or an exercise plan. Friends, our hope is in God. Psalm 119:92-93 says, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.” The power for life, the ability to keep going, and the hope for tomorrow does not come from our attempts at fixing this broken world. It comes from God.

We do not discount the natural aids of God. We are surrounded by faithful friends who are working tirelessly to help us find the best medical care available. Pray for them and for us to have wisdom. But our hope is not modern medicine. And our hope is not some magic elixir. Our hope is God’s amazing love for his people.

Moreover, the best and most scriptural secondary helps are hugs and hospitality, and care. We welcome those! See below.

5. We welcome physical and practical help. Though we do not know all of our needs at this point, we know we cannot walk this journey alone. We need and most defiantly have the help of our family. We need the love and support of our church family. And we embrace the love and prayers from our brothers and sisters around the world.

We will also need help with doctor’s appointments, childcare, meals, medical costs and a host of other things as we discover our new normal. We will know more about our needs over the next few weeks.

At the moment, we are doing well. April’s family is here with us in Virginia and friends both at Amissville Baptist Church and from afar are helping us with the medical side of things.

Contact Info:

At this time, we ask that you direct offers to Amissvillebc@comcast.net or to 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.

Click here for our GOFundMe Page

Though 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 do plan to also keep posting updates here at witkowskiblog.com

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

God is good!

Sustained By Grace Through Faith,

Peter & April