Prayer Warriors: Please Storm Heaven for Amber VanVickle, Catholic Mother of 5, Now in Hospice
A beautiful voice very well known to the Register has just entered hospice, and we now ask our dear readers to pray for her on this feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Many Catholics across the country and around the globe have been following the VanVickle family since Amber’s cancer diagnosis in 2019, as she has been so open and courageous in sharing about her battle.
Tragically, the news came this week that Amber has entered hospice, and the family has shared some touching photos and a heartfelt message that has rapt many hearts on social media.
Amber updated the family's GoFundMe account with the devastating news:
The doctors tell us there is nothing more they can do but make me comfortable, so we are are at hospice. But doctors and I have never seen eye to eye, I am resigned to God’s will, whatever that may be, but am also full of the hope of the Women of the Gospels: “If I may but touch Him, I will be healed.” Whatever He wants!! I would never have been able to do it without this army of a family of prayer warriors behind me; your prayers, love and financial support have been unbelievable. We could never thank you enough.
The page has raised over half a million dollars for the family of seven. Amber was home-schooling four of their five children, and with her new cancer treatments, her husband, Dave, has done his best to stay with her, pausing his career in Catholic evangelism.
“9 years ago, Dave began working as a full-time Catholic evangelist, because he answered the Lord’s call to work in a parish, and this was a financial leap of faith and trust in the Lord for their family,” close friend Andy Lesnefsky wrote in 2019 when the page was first launched.
Amber is not only known for her courageous battle with a raging disease that has now invaded her colon, lungs and liver, but a fierce faith and brave truth when writing about her own spiritual struggles even before her diagnosis and this heartbreaking news of hospice.
In a reflective and eloquent voice, she has touched directly on topics like suffering and unanswered prayers. A devoted mother to five children, two with special needs, she has poured out her heart here at the Register, taking readers through the painful cries of the heart, the dark moments where one feels abandoned by God and through to a wisdom that leaves a mother's heart such as my own filled with such hope, gratitude and welling eyes.
And perpetual prayer.
In one blog post, written just six months prior to her stage-4 cancer diagnosis, Amber chronicles the birth of son Max, who was born with severe brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy. The family begged for a miracle:
Perhaps the Lord is telling us that his love is not measured simply in the physical, in the miracles and the healings, but perhaps even more so, in the absence of those. That his love is shown, even more deeply, in the crosses, the trials and tempests of our lives, in the seeming absence of his power and love. That God permits sorrow and suffering for the very end of drawing us into himself, for an intimacy and sharing-in that could not be achieved any other way than through a share in his passion: “You seem, Lord, to give severe trials to those who love you, but only that in the excess of their trials, they may learn the greater excess of your love.”
Amid our own desires and pleading moments even for those closest to us, formed perfectly in the womb, Amber directs us to the reality that our will is nothing without God. She reminds us of the words of St. Teresa of Avila:
“They deceive themselves who believe that union with God consists in ecstasies or raptures, and in the enjoyment of him. For it consists in nothing except the surrender and subjection of our will — with our thoughts, words and actions — to the will of God.”
She ultimately offers the wisdom that can be so hard to find amid the anguish of a mother yearning for her child to never have to suffer, reminding us: “The absence of God’s miracles does not signify the absence of his love ...”
In the words of St. Faustina: O Will of God, be my love.
In another poignant piece, also written for the Register, Amber touches on more of her own suffering, first by saying she used to scoff at the idea of it being any sort of good. “The notion of suffering being a ‘gift’ or a ‘blessing,’ I would scoff at," she reflected before detailing the story of daughter Louisa, who was born with spina bifida.
Less than a year and a half later, our second daughter, Louisa, our fifth child, would be born with severe spina bifida, leaving her without any use of her legs, and a genetic disorder too crushing to transcribe. During the pregnancy, we had held on to hope for another miracle; we had a beautiful venerable whose intercession we begged for, we had devoted Carmelite sisters whom we love, who carried us through with their hope and prayers., But in the end, again, it wasn’t God’s will.
The piece takes the reader through three heartaches, including the suffering of son Max, stripping bare the doubt and grief she felt not being able to protect her children from yet another disability:
Did God see me? Did He realize the cruelty of the situation? Was this the end of me? Did the Lord realize the pain? Three flukes, three diagnoses that “shouldn’t have happened,” that “didn’t make any sense,” that were “never seen in one family,” “no genetic link.”
And it is in this breaking point and flooding of darkness that she then finds Jesus, the Light, amid the ruin.
Stripped and broken, I stood with nothing left of my heart. Only then could I finally say: I know nothing, Lord. Who are you? Reveal yourself to me! Breaking, burning, testing, touching, the Lord revealed himself and my heart to me.
Titled “A Mother Finds Love at the Foot of the Cross,” her words end with a lesson for all of us when we ask, “Why?” Why is this happening to this loving wife and mother who clung to the cross for so long, praying for a miracle?
I have learned to stop asking why, and to start asking what. As Father Jacques Phillip says, to have “courage” to leave some questions unanswered and ask, “What does God want from me?” Freedom. Broken chains. Freedom in knowing that it’s not my picture, but God’s. Freedom in knowing that God’s ways are beyond us, beyond our understanding. Freedom to know that God will do anything to bring us to him, even break our hearts, because the reward is so much greater.
As we mark this day, we pray for Amber VanVickle and her entire family, asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes on this World Day of the Sick. And we carry our burdens, our sufferings and the sufferings of those we love, as well as our grief to the grotto, placing all our trust at the foot of the cross and praying for a miracle.
Praying for Amber, may we remember her profound witness to so many in her grief, offering all to God.
Despite my burdens and my heartbrokenness, because of my crosses, I was finally able to say to God, “I love you, always, always, always.”
If you would like to donate to the VanVickle family or learn more about their journey, please visit here.