Karen’s New Lease on Life

When friends started asking me this week how Karen’s surgery went on Friday, I realized I need to bring an update. There was no surgery, and right now, it appears there may not be a need for it.

Last week was a time of big decisions. We were at a crossroads in her treatment plan, and it wasn’t clear where we should turn, weighing out the pros and cons of each decision. Remove the drain and have surgery? Remove it and wait and see? Remove it, have surgery and continue chemotherapy? It wasn’t a clear cut path.

In the process of consideration, we met with her oncologist on Tuesday of last week to hear his opinion and how it might factor into our decision. During the consultation, he indicated that the CA125 blood test (used to determine activity of ovarian cancer) had dropped from a high of 1200 down to near normal levels of 46. In our amazement, we asked what caused that drastic change. He grinned, shook his head and offered a few thoughts. “I’d like to think it was my doing, but I doubt that. It could be everything you are doing, and so whatever that is, keep doing it. It could also be an act of God.” We both breathed a collective sigh of relief.

And so our next question was, what does this mean? It was agreed that the urgency level has dropped and we have some time to watch and wait. So the drain was removed that day and our new plan was implemented. We would forgo any more surgery, medication or treatment and let her body recover naturally and holistically. Since then she has begun to feel progressively better day by day. Her appetite is improving and her ability to actively work is lengthening in hours. Needless to say we are very grateful and in Karen’s words, feeling a new lease on life.

So what were the things Karen was doing that the oncologist mentioned? She made a pretty big lifestyle change back in November, first beginning with adopting a ketogenic diet, but chemotherapy can cripple the taste buds, and that approach was too limiting. So we morphed into more of a keto-tarian approach, a high fat, high vegetable diet focusing on foods that have natural anti-angiogenic properties. This means lots of color in the food; red, blue and black berries, dark greens, red cabbage and onions. It means fermented foods like sauerkraut and Kimchi. It also means no grains, beans, or legumes.

So was that the key? Was this the X-factor that led to the precipitous drop in the cancer marker? How about the kind support from friends and family via reaching out through phone calls, cards, letters, text and groceries? What about the prayers offered, many from people we don’t even know? What’s the cause? What’s the secret? What’s the special sauce?

While I would never discount any of these things, the one thing I return to over and over again here in my middle years can be summed up in one word:


My point in mentioning faith is not to advertise or defend it or try to sell you on it. It’s simply to tell my story as I know it and have experienced it. It’s my story and it brings me great joy and therefore I am happy to tell it to anyone who wants to listen.

Faith is described as confidence in what you hope for, of being certain of what you do not see. Seeing it this way takes some of the guesswork out. If I am not confident, maybe I’m not living by faith.

Here in my middle years, I’m learning that faith isn’t a crap shoot. Its not rolling the dice and seeing what happens. Its not gathering as many friends as possible in hope you reach a tipping point when you get enough people involved. I no longer find safety in those kinds of numbers.

Instead, I am finding that faith is more about engagement and involvement with the One who created me. And when crisis hits, the first thing I do isn’t to pray, because crisis can create panic and I certainly don’t know what to pray for in a state of panic. The first thing I do now is enter into a place of thanksgiving and rejoicing and put my mind at ease in the fact that the One who created me has not changed, even though my circumstances have. It’s in this mindset that I can begin to listen and tune in to the what the Man of Sorrows is praying and how the Comforter is interceding for me. If these two are in accord, it only makes sense that I join in with them.

This is where I find my confidence in faith comes from.

Thank you again to all who have been there for us. One of the coolest things has been the generosity of our church family, where someone every five days brings us groceries that meet Karen’s dietary requirements. We have a stack of cards and notes sent the old fashioned way through the mail, some even anonymous that have special meaning. Thanks to our employers at Blue Blood and The Mill for being so accommodating of our needs for time off. These are among the list of things I mention when I enter into thanksgiving and rejoicing. Even this act has power to heal.

Lastly, we give permission to anyone to ask us about how we are doing. I learned this years ago in dealing with the grief of a family who lost a child. They said the one statement that was the most frustrating was when someone would say, “Oh, I thought about calling, but I didn’t want to upset you.” I will never forget what the mother said, “This is our life we live 24/7. How can you upset us?” We want this story to provide hope, therefore your questions are welcome.

Rejoice with us.


31 thoughts on “Karen’s New Lease on Life

  1. Judy says:

    Yay! We are praising God with you and rejoicing for all that our God had done! We continue to pray that God will completely heal Karen and use your testimony’s to help others!

  2. Jane Vander Broek says:

    Beautiful! I love what you say about faith. It’s not about how many people we can get to pray…..there is no magic tipping point. So happy for both of you.

  3. Cindy Cerny says:

    Great news! Let me know if you need any more books Karen – my “library” is always open to you. We should get together for tea, wine what ever works best for you!

  4. Lynne Sluder says:

    Kevin. Your thoughts and views are so encouraging. They remind me of my faith that carried me through Tom’s illness. It still carries me today, many years later.
    Prayers continue for you and yours!

  5. Brad Hartman says:

    Kevin this is wonderful and so thoughtful and an inspirational look at faith Vs religion. Beth and I send love and hope and encouragement to you both and look forward to the next time we all tip a pint together. I have a feeling it will happen!

  6. Sherry McCranie says:

    Rejoicing with you both! Prayers for your family and continued improvements for Karen! Thanks for sharing your faith.

  7. Gary Tharnish says:

    This is the most joyful thing I have read in a long time. Just makes my heart drum a happy beat ad my soul sing a joyful tune for you both. God Bless😎

  8. Patty Wade says:

    I have missed you both and think of you often with wonderful memories of the best scrambled eggs ever along with great conversation. My most heartfelt wish is for great health for you Karen and please know as I am behind the times of the news of Karen’s health❤️🙏🏻❤️ All my love and prayers to you both.

  9. Im sitting here with a funny grin—funny because I despise the suffering Karen and you have been through yet a grin because of what I’ve just read above that seems near unbelievable even to a Christ follower. Wow. God is good. Thank you for your words, your wisdom, your heart, Kevin. We’ll continue to pray. Love you lots!

  10. Kathy Grubbe says:

    Love your words about faith, Kevin. It gives us confidence to be who we are in whatever situation life gives us. Best news ever about Karen!!!

  11. Sharon says:

    Kevin and Karen,
    Testimonials like yours give life and light out in so many many directions. Thank you for the real words that speak God’s truth. Rejoicing with you both and praying for the will of our Heavenly Father for you and your family.

  12. Donna Woudenberg says:

    Kevin – what an amazing post. I’m stunned and happy for both of you! Praying for continued healing! All my best – Donna

  13. Lisa (Rogers) Travis says:

    Kevin, I randomly found your blog and am really glad I did. I’m so glad Karen is doing better! Your thoughts on faith are helpful to me. I have been trying to grow in faith myself and trust that God truly wants to answer prayer. I love this from Dallas Willard:
    “God’s “response” to our prayers is not a charade. He does not pretend that he is answering our prayer when he is only doing what he was going to do anyway. Our requests really do make a difference in what God does or does not do. The idea that everything would happen exactly as it does regardless of whether we pray or not is a specter that haunts the minds of many who sincerely profess belief in God. It makes prayer psychologically impossible, replacing it with dead ritual at best. And of course God does not respond to this. You wouldn’t either.” Dallas goes on to give some examples of God changing his mind when beset with prayer from his people. I want to pray with FAITH. And believe that God is GOOD. (I also love hearing about FOOD. 🙂

  14. Aliana says:

    I’m so glad to hear Karen is making such a miraculous recovery – it’s a testament to both of your resilient personalities and the strength of your relationship.
    I wondered what you or Karen might offer to someone who was recently diagnosed with cancer, and found out it’s spread to the bone…Kevin, you write more elegantly and impactfully than I ever could. Having been through this, I’m hoping your experience speaks for itself. I find myself at a loss for words.

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