Memo: April’s Second Breast Cancer Update, June 2019

Memo2-breast-cancerThe storm has arrived. The small, misty drops from the top of the early storm-breakers have reached our souls. The monstrous, well-formed waves of April’s cancer that threaten to capsize our life have not yet come into view. But there is no doubting the arrival of this storm in our lives.

Over the last few weeks, April’s occasional back pain has become more intense and has lasted for longer periods of times. She has felt sorrow as she weaned her baby girl and has stopping picking up our 3 year-old and 5 year-old. Over the past few days, she has also felt the first side effects of her cancer medication, fevers and bone pain. We spend our days researching drugs, calling doctors, and hunting down medical records. April’s stage four breast cancer has arrived.

After listening to several doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners, April and I can now discuss the essential elements of this cancerous storm with some certainty. We know her tumor has existed at least since last November. At that time and on two ensuing occasions, April discussed a lump in her breast with her OGBYN. He ignored her concerns, saying he would schedule a mammogram or ultrasound for her in June if the lump still existed. April’s breast cancer has grown slowly,  feeding off of estrogen and progesterone. But with that being said, we know the cancer has had time to extensively flow throughout April’s body. The cancer has metastasized, expanding from the confines of her breast to reach her lymph nodes, her blood, and her bones. The cancer could also possibly reside in her liver, but the tests are not conclusive.

The ER+ and PR+ and HER2- breast cancer is considered a more treatable and manageable form of breast cancer. Employing hormone therapy and eventually chemotherapy, doctors think the cancer’s raging waters can be held at bay and potentially pushed back into the sea of suffering from whence they came. However, the storm will eventually adapt, regain strength, and come back to our shores.

Medicine cannot cure hormone based cancer.
According to the doctors, the cancer will most likely crash into our hearts with life-taking power in 6 or 7 years. But the doctor’s expectations are little more than the law of last year’s averages. In many ways, our storm still lacks a defined shape. Until April begins her treatment and the doctors measure how her cancerous storm responds to the various therapies, we can only vaguely speak of the storm’s path, duration, and ability to cause harm. April and I hope and pray that April will be able to successfully battle the waves of this storm for the next 15 to 20+ years.

Just as communities turn to sandbags, bulldozers, and the National Guard for help as massive storms approach, we have reached out to the top breast cancer clinics in Virginia and as well as the top three breast cancer clinics in the United States. We will do all in our power to bolster April’s natural defenses. We will begin exploring treatment options and clinical trials at Mayo Clinic, Sloan-Kettering, and UVA during the next two weeks. Hopefully we will be able to share more about the location and nature of April’s treatment come early July.

When storms of this life changing magnitude slam into our lives, we invariably find our minds drifting to the “why” questions. Why did God allow April’s OGBYN to ignore her concerns about a lump in her breast? Why did God send her, me, our children, and our extended families into this storm? Why did not allow her cancer in the first place?

I honestly don’t know why. But this I do know: God is good, and God is with us! Isaiah 43:1-2 says:

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Isaiah spoke these words to Hezekiah. His kingdom was under attack and at the point of death. But God promised to be with his people as they suffer. April and I experienced the special presence of God when we lost our first-born-son Peter Alexander in 2013. Christ stood with us then. And we are sure that God is standing with us now because we are certain that Jesus left the tomb and reigns in heaven.

As we dive into the waves of the latest storm, we trust that God will strengthen our muscles of faith, belief, and trust. Each time we fear the waves will overwhelm us, God arrives and saves us. He has dried our many tears with the warmth of his love. And as we have begun to speculate the about a wifeless and motherless future, God’s Word has reminded us that we have nothing to fear. We are his redeemed people. No wave or fire will break us for our God stands with us amidst the storm. There is no fear to large for God. As the hymn says, “All I ever needed thy hand hath provided.”

In Mathew 8:23-27, the disciples were tossed violently by the sea. They turned to Jesus in a panic and said, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” Notice how Jesus responded:

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”

We are tempted to fear. But then we look and see our savior resting peacefully for he rules the waves and April’s cancer.

He is our hope. As we suffer with Christ, we find our Lord and savior to be so sweet and so good. He’s with us, he hears us, and he will deliver us! We can confidently say that the words Psalm 34:8 become true with each passing day.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Contact Info:

We have been blessed by the love of our families, our ABC family, and our friends. If you wish to contact us, we ask you to do the following:

Email us at: 

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 plan to also keep posting updates here at

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

God is good!

Sustained By Grace Through Faith,

Peter & April

How Real Is Your Faith?

faithWe are all about trusting Jesus. We love to sing about how great is a our God. We nod in devoted agreement as our friend encourages us to, ‘keep believing.” And, we get squeamish when someone mentions how hard their family life is. More Faith!

We often associate faith with passionate prayers, faith healings, and moving choir solo’s. Those who trust do incredible and noticeable things for God. But according to the Scriptures that greatest displays of faith come during the normal moments of life. Those who are truly trusting in the sovereign rule of God are those who obey God regardless of their circumstances, who love others well, and who faithfully share the Words of God.

While Israel waited for their new king to appear, Samuel was living out the gospel. In 1 Samuel 9:15-27, we encounter one of those occasion where God peals back the edge of heaven to give us insight into his plans. He tells Samuel that Saul is coming his way by divine order. The lost donkey’s were no accident; they were a divine instrument of God designed to accomplish his will. God tells Samuel that his replacement is coming. And Samuel responds to God’s revelation with obedience, love, and proclamation.

51YR+MUIt2L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Though Saul’s inauguration would end Samuel’s political rule, crushing the Prophet’s hope for a family dynasty, he submits to God’s commands. Samuel obeys God and installs Saul as the King of Israel. Friends if we believe as A.W. Pink said, “that God is God in fact, as well as in name, that he is on the Throne of the universe, directing and working all things after the counsel of his will (Eph 1:11),” then we will obey God. We will attend church even if that means our son will go from starting point guard to professional bench warmer. We will tithe even if that means we can’t afford that new sports car or that vacation rental. We will share Christ even when our cousins and uncles mock us for being prudes. We will obey even when its costly because we understand that God reigns. We understand that God gives talent, money, and good friends.  Real faith produces unconditional obedience. Those who trust God will obey God even when obedience diverges from their feelings and appears costly.

Next, Samuel loved Saul. He prepared choice food for Saul and his servant. Samuel gave the soon-to-be troublesome king lodging. Samuel cares for Saul because he knew Saul arrived by God’s design. If we share the same knowledge, we will not see the wayward children, the cranky bosses, and the annoying church member sniffing a few rows behind us as divine aberrations that must be avoided at all cost. We will not seek to drive away unpleasant people. Rather, we will love them. We will speak well of them. We will encourage them. We will bring them meals. We will pray for them. We will invite them into our homes. We will love them.

Friends this is one of the greatest signs of true faith. If our heart of stone has been replaced with a heart of flesh, we will love those who hurt our platforms, who disrupt our lives, and who set us on edge. Recall Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:43-44

  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

Friends if we have faith, we will love our enemies. We will not attack those who attack us. We will love them because we realize God has placed them in our lives by his decree!

Lastly, we will share the Word of God. Samuel tells Saul all that the Lord has told him. If we trust in God, we will share his revealed Word with our friends and family. We will long to see the single-mom with the five loud kids come to faith. We will long to share the gospel with the guy who has a Mohawk, tattoos, and cutoff khaki shorts, and we will continue to share the gospel with our rebellious daughter who routinely mocks our faith. We will embrace the challenges that come with caring for a single-mom who will bring a life-time of financial struggles into our church. We will welcome the guy whose very presence will challenge our suit and tie sensibilities. And we will welcome our daughter back into our church even if that means people will talk and question our wisdom. Why? We do these things because we trust in God’s sovereignty. We trust that the gospel we hold is the same gospel that will give these and thousands of others hope. So, we preach the gospel accepting all the challenges that come with new converts.

Do we trust God? Do we obey God when obedience is convenient and inconvenient? Do we love the loveable and the unloveable? Do we share the Word of God? Do we have faith?

Review: The Doctrine of Repentance

51159BRX7QL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_The topic of Repentance demands the Christians full attention. If we hope to walk with our Lord in Savior in paradise, we must know, understand, and practice repentance. As Thomas Watson said, “Repentance is a continuous act. The issue of sorrow must not be quite stopped till death.” If we get repentance wrong, we will undoubtedly get the whole Christian faith wrong.

The Puritan pastor Thomas Watson dived into the conversation about repentance in 1628 when he published his short book, The Doctrine of Repentance. In the space of a 112 small pages, Watson thoroughly wrestles with the doctrine of repentance revealing both what it is and what it is not. After showing that repentance is the conjoined twin of faith, Watson spends the next three chapters discussing the difference between counterfeit and true repentance. He then looks at the motives and reasons for repentance, encouraging his readers to endure the difficulties that often follow true repentance and to remove all hindrances to true repentance.

Both the well-seasoned reader and the new-believer will find Watson’s book helpful. He wields the knife of scriptural interpretation with the care of a skillful pastor, quickly and succinctly applying the Scriptures to the lives of his readers. He clearly reveals what the Bible has to say about repentance. And he says it well. He paints powerful word pictures that bring the truths of Scripture to life. He writes, “Never do the flowers if grace grow more than after a shower of repentant tears.”  And then, he says, “A hard heart is the anvil on which the hammer of God’s justice will be striking to all eternity.” Most every page contains 1 to 3 insightful statements worthy of a quick tweet or of a Sunday morning mention. My own heart and preaching has benefited greatly from Watson’s convicting and loving words.

Sunday school teachers, pastors, men and women looking for devotionals, and those who love deepening their knowledge of God will find this little book immensely beneficial. I encourage you to grab a copy today!