Memo: April’s No Good, Very Bad Week – May 2021.2

To borrow from one of April’s favorite children’s books, this last week has been a series of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. On Mother’s day evening, April’s pain and nausea which had receded the week before stormed back with a vengeance. She found herself once again bedridden, surviving off a diet of prescription pain pills and nausea pills. With her symptoms growing in intensity, her Inova team in cooperation with April’s UVA team concluded that April should no longer wait for the experimental LY drug to tackle her breast cancer tumors. On Tuesday May 4, 2021, April exited the EMBER study to begin phase 3 treatments at UVA. Sadly, the first round of chemotherapy went poorly. As the first drops of the Taxol drug touched April’s blood stream, she shot up in her chair with an allergic reaction that warranted the attention of her oncologist, a pharmacist, and four nurses. With her heart calmed and her breathing restored, April returned home Thursday night to once again battle nausea and pain. Her latest trip to the large orange chair situated between IV polls and blood pressure cuffs went much better. April assumed the second chemotherapy drug, Abraxane, without a major incident. However, she still had a significant battle with pain. Seemingly, the weekend has been content to stop at horrible, dispensing with the need for the other adjectives.

This week has borne an eerie resemblance to one of those adventure films where the heroine finds herself in a rickety, old minecart careening down the track towards a washed-out bridge. Though April has tried pretty much everything one could think of, enduring a lifetime of pokes, pricks, and side effects, the wobbly minecart has continued to move with such speed that the switch tracks, rail bumpers, and emergency breaks of the medical world have failed. She has flown through most of phase 2 treatment options and some of her phase 3 treatment options in the span of five days. By comparison, her phase 1 treatment plan lasted 22 months. Thankfully, the Abraxane promises to lock the wheels of this horrid minecart, sparking some flames of hope.

What’s Next

Over the next three weeks, the Abraxane chemotherapy drug should bring April’s free-falling descent to a stop. She should then be able to start inching her way back towards health over the next six to nine months. If all goes extremely well, she may even be able to reintegrate some of the phase 2 treatments options back into her regime. Though the outcome of this treatment will not be known for weeks, its side effects which include hair loss, a racing heart rate, and more nausea and fatigue have already begun to make themselves known. Until she starts that climb back to health, we will need round-the-clock help.

Though this week has been hard and more hard days lie ahead, we still remain hopeful that April’s treatment plan will once again offer us some nice, pleasant, quite good, and very excellent days.

How Are We Doing?

As April and I have rumbled through the last few days, we have shed many tears, grieving everything from the threat of hair loss to her increasing pain levels to the uncertainty of tomorrow. The days have been long and cruel. But our hope remains for our God remains on high.

Though we do not know why our sweet April suffers, we know these storms of affliction do not prove God’s displeasure or weakness. If anything, they prove the opposite. Steven, one of the original deacons, was stoned to death. The apostle Paul suffered through stonings, shipwreck, and imprisonment before being executed in Rome. The apostle Peter was crucified upside down. Thousands of early Christians were burned as garden torches and fed to lions in the Coliseum. Blessed are those who suffer for righteousness sake.

While April will not know the dangers of typhoid fever nor the threats of cannibalistic tribes, her sufferings still make up what is lacking in Christ’s affliction (Col. 1:24). She battles breast cancer today for the purpose of evangelizing and training her children, encouraging her husband, and building up her earthly and local church families. Though she is confined to the ordinary grass lots of suburbia, she is still very much fulfilling the extraordinary calling of being a wife, mother, and sister in Christ. She has endured a lifetime of a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad days for Christ.

Though we wish April’s cancer gone 1000 times over and still plead with God for such an outcome, we know her pain and our pains have a divine purpose and legacy. It is this: “that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing (James 1:4).” Jesus overcame sin and death through suffering. Hardships do not disprove God’s love for us but rather reveal us to be at the center of it. Through sorrow, we find the joy of salvation and dispensations of even greater grace, love, and mercy. In time, these horrible, terrible, no good very bad days will reveal paths of gold. God has deemed us worthy to suffer. Oh, how precious is my dear, beloved April.

Thank You!

Thank you for the constant outpouring of prayer and support. We long ago lost track of all the well-deserved thank you notes that should have been sent. Thank you for extending us grace. We are forever thankful for our family, ABC church family, and friends.

Prayer Request

Please continue to pray for us and our family. Though God has been faithful this last week, we have been ever so weak.

Pray that God will bless this new line of treatment. Pray for God to alleviate April’s pain and nausea. Pray for me and April as we continue to assess and think through medical, parenting, and lifestyle options. Pray for God to use our suffering to advance our faith, to save our children, to care for our families, and to advance our Amissville Baptist Church family. Pray for all of us to know the comfort of our heavenly Father. Pray that we may be perfect and complete and lacking in nothing. Pray.

Contact Info:

EMAIL US AT: BIBLEFIGHTER@GMAIL.COM 

SNAIL-MAIL: P.O. BOX 637/ AMISSVILLE, VA 20106

CALL US AT: 540-937-6159.

SUPPORT US AT GOFUNDME.COM: APRIL WITKOWSKI MEDICAL FUND

SUPPORT US AT PAYPAL: ID: PAWitkowski

SCHEDULE A TIME TO HELP: BIBLEFIGHTER@GMAIL.COM

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 August 2019 Update

IMG-0355A touch of hope has returned to the sails of our souls this afternoon.

As April and I accessed the waves of pain and doubt that violently rocked her soul these past few weeks, we began to fear that her voyage to health would soon break against the rocks of failure. On Saturday, August 3, 2019, an MRI revealed that the storm that enveloped her body had grown in both size and location. Seeking to clarify the shape and intensity of April’s cancer, the medical team at Mayo performed both a CT Scan and a bone scan yesterday, August 13, 2019.

Those tests renewed our hope in her current treatment plan, revealing both good and bad news. The tumors in her lymph nodes appear to have shrunk a few millimeters, some of her bones have grown stronger, and some of tumors in her pelvis have decreased in size. Conversely, the scans revealed that the spots in her liver have grown slightly and are indeed cancerous, that some of the tumors in her back, hips, and chest have increased a millimeter or two, and that three potentially cancerous spots have appeared next to her lungs. In short, some tumors have decrease a have few percentage points and some have grown between 1% to 5%. Essentially, the tests reveal that April’s cancer formation has shifted little since our last Mayo visit in June. For the treatment to be considered a failure, the cancer has to grow by 20% or more. This afternoon April is sailing a safe distance from that rock of disaster.

Though we and our doctors wished April’s cancer had decreased in both size and intensity over the past two months, the report of an essentially unaltered storm offers us more medical hope than when we began the day. Her hormone treatment could still be working. The drugs power her body to health require time to beat down the winds and waves of her aggressive disease.

For the next two months, April will continue to battle against the winds of her cancer with the help of the hormone blocking pills. In October, we will head back to Mayo for another round of tests to see if her cancer has grown or shrunk. The additional eight weeks should definitively answer the question of whether or not the hormone treatment will meaningfully aid April in her quest for health.

April has defined today as being a “gray-day.” Going back to May 17, all previous major scans had contained only the black discouraging news of metastatic cancer and tumor growth. In a little yet very meaningful way, this gray report has pushed the needle a mark more towards hope. We are thankful for this success.

We thank you for joining with us in prayer these past few days.  Going forward, we hope and pray that we will have some days of gloriously clear, and bright news.

IMG-5716Before her next trip to Minnesota in October, April will see a radiologist. Her Mayo and UVA doctors believe localized radiation should prevent additional bouts of intense back and leg pain. She will also have an outpatient surgery to remove her ovaries to ensure that her body will no longer produce estrogen and progesterone.

April and I have found living life in two-month increments to be taxing. The tests she endures are physically and emotionally exhausting. As our five-year-old said the other day, “I don’t like cancer.”

As we seek to keep our hearts from being tossed by every wind and wave of medical news, we ask God to help us to see with eternal vision. In Mathew 8:26, Jesus rebukes the disciples for having, “little faith” because they saw the world through only their physical eyes. They were consumed with the waves instead of their powerful savior. They should have known (and we should know) that Jesus is far more real and powerful than any storm. Jesus is our salvation and our guarantee that all of our life is under God’s all powerful, all wise, and all good care. Because Jesus reigns,  we have no reason to be afraid even if our boat is swamped by the waves of cancer. We pray and ask you to pray for us that the eternal realities of our savior and of our salvation will be more real to us than the medical images we can see and touch.

We thank you for joining with us in prayer over the last few days. Please keep praying for April’s healing. Your notes and messages have been a blessing to our souls as we geared up for and walked through this last series of tests and doctor’s visits. Thank you.

We hope to have more good news to share with you in two months.

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

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 witkowskiblog.com

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

Sustained By Grace Through Faith,

Peter and April