Delayed

scanWhen Toban came to find me in the cancer center waiting room, we both knew that was probably one of the most important days of our lives. So he immediately started to laugh when he got close enough to realize what I was doing in the meantime. I was on the phone with CNN explaining the prosperity theology of Donald Trump.

My pager buzzed and the nurse called my name.

“Oh, shoot, can I call you back?” I told the reporter. “I have to go find out if I’m going to live this year.”

We were so nervous that we both felt a little ill. There is a lot of nothing in hospitals, a lot of the buzz of florescent lights and listening for the scraping sound of my chart being taken out of the holder on the door. So we did what we could do. We prayed. He held my sweaty hands. And he complied with my request to play the song “All I Do is Win” on repeat because hyper-confidence in the midst of desperation makes me laugh.

The doctor came in as I was singing the chorus “All I do is win, win, win no matter what!” at a volume not entirely appropriate for a health care setting. But when I saw the smile on his face, I allowed myself to finish up the chorus and a verse.

It was good. It was better than good. It was magnificent.

After having stopped chemo, there were no signs of new tumor growth. Which means that the chemotherapy wasn’t doing anything but hurt me. And that the immunotherapy is working, working, working. As far as the studies can show, the tumors won’t grow. At least not this year, which is as far as the studies go.

It is so good that my brain can hardly process the implications. I will continue to get regular scans, but it is officially completely reasonable for me to be confident. And relaxed. And happy. I will trade old problems for better problems. Instead of trying to gauge whether these tumors will grow, we will be discussing whether we should be surgically removing them or only keeping an eye on them. We will talk about how, someday, I will drop immunotherapy all together when it seems like my body knows how to effectively target those foreign cancer cells. We will hold our breath and wait for the next big advancement in cancer research while I stay what I am—incurable. But I can live with incurable. As long as I get to live.

In truth, it is so good that it was hard to sit down and write this blog entry. I was absolutely swamped the last few days with an out-of-town conference and a surprise (but wonderfully welcome) family visit. I thanked God like a wild woman but it has not yet occurred to me that I can relax for a minute and acknowledge that, for now and the near future, I am fine. I’ve been so accustomed to creating the momentum I need to endure these highs and lows that I hardly know how to sloooooow down.

This fact was obvious from the moment I emerged from the doctor’s office on Wednesday with The News. At the moment I should have been weeping for joy, I finished my appointment, walked out of the cancer center, and dialed the first number that came to mind.

“Hi! Yes. I’m back. I get to live this year! I should call my parents. But first, quickly, let’s finish talking about Donald Trump.”

 

33 thoughts on “Delayed

  1. Christine

    I am a history graduate student who loves your work. I’ve been praying for you very, very hard since I found out about your diagnosis. Glory be to Him for whom anything is possible!! Elated to hear this news.

    With love in Christ,
    Christine

    Reply
  2. Lauren

    As a friend of some of your friends, and a great admirer of your work, I’ve been following your blog and reading all of your beautiful, sad, wrenching posts…and I am so happy for you to read this news. Warmest wishes and hopes for the year ahead.

    Reply
  3. Mitzi Johnson

    Shouts of joy and continued prayers coming your way from Chapel Hill. Thank you for writing a blog that has given so much honesty, encouragement, and hope to so many people.

    Reply
  4. Kevin Penner

    Hi Kate,
    I heard you on the CBC show Ideas podcast about the prosperity gospel (listening to your interview took away much of the drudgery of raking soggy leaves). I wanted to respond, so found my way to your blog. A bit late to the party, but what great news to read about your cancer remission! You announced your cancer on that show so matter-of-factly that it came as quite a shock. So apparently cheerful even with that hanging over your head.

    My mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer and her response was “Why NOT me?” which seemed to me a good way of facing the issue. She had a miserable year of surgery, chemo and radiation, then a blessed year of remission (took a trip to see family in England, etc.). The cancer came back in her bowel, and so the third year was a slow decline till her death, but in all that time she was a sweet witness to her faith in God. Contrast that with a couple in our town whose prosperity-gospel-flavoured church was devastated when each of them died two years apart of the same rare pancreatic cancer. They had no explanation why God did not answer their prayers. Sigh …

    Anyway, thank you for doing that interview! I particularly enjoyed the spontaneous bit of chat at the end. I don’t know what the interviewer Paul Kennedy was expecting, but I think he found you refreshing! God bless you as you keep up the good fight.

    (From another Manitoba Mennonite)

    Reply
  5. Philip Barr

    This is such good news. I just feel a kinship with you ever since the NYT article I read last Feb. I can’t begin to explain it. With the exception of my wife I’ve never prayed so intensely for someone’s healing than I have for yours all the way back to day one. I’ve looked at this blog twice a day ever since “Certainty”.
    I am so happy for you, Toban, and your toddler. Thank you for sharing your story with all of your new found friends who love you so dearly.

    Reply
    1. Gerry Bowler

      As Kate’s father, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Prayers have kept us afloat this past year. Blessings on you and your family.

      Reply
  6. Judy Hays

    On the eve of Richard’s next scan, your words were just what I needed to help me slow down into sleep. We love you.

    Reply
  7. Karen Bender

    I have no sufficient words to tell you how happy I am for you. Thanks be to God! And to your doctors and the new therapy. I can’t begin to imagine what this is like for you all. Well, I can begin, from reading your blog. I have prayed so much for you and your family and will continue to do so because I have come to care about you a great deal. I gave your dad a hug at Synod and emailed with your mom. You , your writing, and this news have been a blessing to me, even though you don’t know me. All the best!

    Reply
  8. Mikael Broadway

    It’s been a few days of listening to and running Rich Mullins songs on repeat in my head. After reading your post and people’s responses this morning, I found myself walking around singing this one:

    Saints and children we have gathered here to hear the sacred story,
    And I’m glad to bring it to you with my best rhyming and rhythm
    ‘Cause I know the thirsty listen and down to the waters come.
    And the Holy King of Israel loves me here in America…

    Reply
  9. Deanna Thompson

    YAY!!!!!! Praise God! So. Thrilled. For. You!!!!!

    Can’t wait to see your stable-tumor self at the AAR in November (remember: you’re on a panel) and revel in the sight.

    So elated.

    Much love.

    Reply
  10. Julie Stroud

    Smile. Such wonderful news. The signs (and I do believe in them) were going this way, but confirmation is sweet. And bless those new problems. Far superior to the old ones.

    Reply
  11. Justin Rasmussen

    On behalf of some of us Mac Christian Fellowship people who’ve been praying with you, I’m so glad to hear such great news! Haven’t played DJ Khaled as worship before but this week, my hands go up and they stay there 😀

    Reply
  12. Amanda

    Kate, I’m so happy for you!!! Reading this made me smile so hard that the corners of my lips cracked (okay, that’s mostly a side effect of Vectibix but I’m gonna blame it on you just this once)! And 2 Samuel 22:20 came to mind. Rest and enjoy this spacious place, delightful one.

    Reply
  13. Sheila

    Wow! Just read this…..oh, wow. Sending a hug from Chicago for you, your family and your parents who surely are thrilled with this news. Kate – enjoy this news. You fight the fight and we will bombard Heaven with prayer for continued healing.

    Reply
  14. Pastor Greg H.

    Dear Kate. I do hope that you know, however ironically, that you are a blessing to many who are feeling otherwise “un-blessed.” My wife was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which is also life-changing though not lethal. The “why” question comes up frequently but most of the people in our congregation get the tragic side. They’re encouraging without being silly. When she was again able to get back on her bicycle, they celebrated even though she still struggles to get up from a sitting position in a chair or pew. They pray for her therapy and her therapists. Once in awhile I get what you identify as the “prosperity gospel,” but mostly folks just want to ease what they can and be supportive. The PT is all about “think BIG, act BIG” but that’s because PD is a condition of diminishment and restriction. So BIG-ness helps but there’s still no cure. We and those who care about us offer many, many prayers and there has been much that God has done for us. Curing the PD is not among them. So, I rejoice in your good news of your “un-cure” improvements and we will add our prayers on your and your family’s behalf for the Lord’s continued healing grace and peace, strength and endurance, and the hope that comes from His own suffering, death and resurrection. In our lives, that hope has been a great blessing.

    Reply
  15. Nev McCormack

    Wonderful news! Since I read the article in the NYT I’ve thought about you many times and I’ve prayed for you and especially your family. I’m very happy to hear you’re doing much better now. Bless you!

    Reply
  16. Carol Henderson

    A miracle indeed! We are so happy for you and your family. Many have prayed and wished for this outcome. Your indomitable spirit is amazing.

    Your neighbors, Carol and Ian.

    Reply
  17. David Bains

    I was just sitting down to get my mind back into your book as I prepare to read it with this semester’s American religion class at Samford. I figured I’d check your blog first. Such great news!

    Reply
  18. Audrey

    What wonderful news. We continue to pray for you weekly at our prayer meeting. Also you might remember a few years back I gave your book to a church member. He loved it and was so impressed. He recently was diagnosed with cancer. Last night I shared with him your blog. I know God will use it in him to bring laughter and light in this scary time for him and his family. Thank you as always for sharing your heart and life with the world!

    Reply
  19. Monica K

    Your New York Times article defined for me what our family went through with my niece this summer. Your writings and journey into the prosperity gospel resonates with me upon reflection of our summer. Sadly my niece did not make it. We tried everything to ensure she lived and learned a lot in the process. One thing I will never come to believe is everything happens for a reason. And sorry Oprah i feel that there is a lot of luck and randomness to life. Nothing is certain even with the best planning and the strongest beliefs. Ask the two children, husband, twin sister, and parents all trying to find their way.

    Tears from the Canadian Prairies

    Reply
  20. Rebecca Vasko

    Kate, I have thought of you so many times and read your blog, and I just want to say how happy I am for you and this stupendously good news! What wonderful holidays you have to look forward to with your family. I know you will love every minute. Merry Christmas!

    Love,

    Becky

    Reply
  21. Katerina Whitley

    Dear Kate:

    I have just discovered you and your blog and I feel tremendous gratitude that you will live to enjoy your child, your husband, and your work. As one who considers the prosperity gospel a great American idolatry, I applaud you for writing about this idolatry with such understanding and compassion. Your supreme grace is your humor and your ability to find God’s mercy in even the darkest moments of your life. You give strength to so many. May God keep you able to share your joy with others who need it. As a grandmother who has a beloved granddaughter in Durham I will be thinking of you with specificity.

    Reply
  22. Paul Castaneda

    I stumbled upon your article in the Times about the prosperity gospel movement and your diagnosis and was immediately moved. It connected with me as someone who lost their dad to the Big C when I was but a man-child and as someone who struggles with his faith daily. I looked up this blog fearing the worst and read this. I am incredibly happy for you and your family and will (try to remember) to pray for your continued health and long life.

    Paul

    Reply

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