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 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

What Does Your Prayer Life Say About Your Faith?

prayer.jpgAre you saved? Do you pray? We often do not draw a line between faith and prayer. But, the Scriptures bind the two concepts together with the force of an unbreakable chain. Those who have been saved pray regularly. And those who regularly pray have been saved.

In 1 Samuel 7:8, we read, “And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” A few verses, early the nation of Israel had experienced true rival. Samuel had shared the Word of God with his nation. The people believed and “put away the Baals and the Ashhtaroth, and they served the Lord only (4).” Things were going phenomenally well; and then, the Philistines show up ready for battle. The Israelites have all the weapons that we would find at a tent revival and Philistines have the armaments of full combat dress.

In the midst of this terrifying situation, the people of God cry out to God. They turn to their They pray. And their response is the response of all true worshipers of God. When trials come, when adversity strikes, and when sorrow surrounds them, they run to the throne room of God. The Christian is one who happily embraces Paul’s command to “pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).” The Christian knows that God creates, sustains, saves, rules, and loves. And they respond to this knowledge by praying.

Conversely those who find prayer unappealing are those who do not trust the Lord.  In 1 Samuel 8:1-6, the nation of Israel once again encounters adversity. Samuel’s sons have perverted Justice exploiting the legal system for financial gain. But instead of seeking the Lord’s advice or asking God to intercede, the elders make demands of Samuel and God. They demand that the creator of the stars bend His will to accommodate the fluid culture of his fallen, prideful, and noticeable frail human creatures. And the elders of 1 Samuel 8 are not alone. Men and women who love the world have little cause to pray as they are their own saviors who know what is best. The love of the world always leads us away from God. And instead of seeking him, we will seek to control him.

Anyone can confess Christ. But, only those who love him will regularly and continually pray to him as Samuel did.

In short, our prayers or the lack of our prayers says much about our Christian life.

As Dr. Albert Mohler, the President of Southern Seminary, said,

[Prayer] discloses our view of God and of ourselves. It discloses our priorities and our assumptions about God’s priorities. It discloses our doctrines of God, man, sin, redemption, the world, and a host of other theological matters. If we really want to know what a person believes, we should listen to them pray.

Do we pray? And if we pray, do we seek the wisdom, the knowledge, and the salvation that comes from the Lord? Or do we simply make demands of God that will enable us to gain the wealth, prestige, or white picket-fences that our culture values so very much? Do we love God?

What does our pray life say about us?