Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good Bye My Dear Friend, Karen; Another One Gone Too Soon

For the better part of my life, my “friends” were people that I met within the vicinity of where I lived. They were people that I met through common interests; people that I saw at the grocery store, the mailbox, the park or even at the doctor’s office. Today, much of that has changed; because of the internet, I have made friends with common interests, all around the world.

As luck would have it, some of my dearest friends have been become so, by sharing a very rare cancer; chronic myelogenous leukemia. For those of us that have found each other in various groups, this blood cancer doesn't seem all that rare, because all of us have it. Truth be told, there are only approximately 75,000 people in the United States, living with CML; when you compare that to the approximate population in the US of 313.9 million people, we really are a drop in the bucket.

This being said, it is not uncommon for those of us in CML “groups” to experience the death of a friend. The past few months have been particularly brutal in that department; we all have lost quite a few blood buddies. Right now, my heartbreak is from the loss of Karen Hurst Knoxx.  I “met” Karen several years ago,and was immediately drawn to her complete and utter sweetness. This coupled with shared interests brought us closer together as the days passed. I will now forever cherish the recipe card for Jambalaya, that she recently sent to me. I cannot believe that she is gone....

Unfortunately, Karen's CML journey has not been an easy one, and recently rapidly progressed into blast crisis; unfortunately, her optimism, valiant fight and tenacity were no match for CML. She earned her wings quickly and I pray that she flies free.......

Where does this leave us? Her fighting sisters?


It leaves us vulnerable, sad and a bit lost.

It leaves us with an ache in our hearts', a hole in our soul;and that is alright; our hearts should ache for this terrible loss. It is alright to feel sad, it is alright to be angry that Karen's rocky road has led her to our Lord.  It is OK to feel these things, for this is normal; allow the tears to fall, allow yourself to feel sad, but don’t forget to also include laughter to your tears, because Karen would not want us to only be sad. She would want us to remember our shared laughter, hopes and dreams, and she would want us to continue to fight. She would also want us to live our best lives and to spend time with each other, our friends and our families.

And while we suffer for our loss, we must remember Karen's family, for as much as our hearts ache; their loss is immeasurable.  I cannot imagine their pain and I wish that there was some way, to ease their sadness; hopefully knowing how many lives she touched and how many people loved her, will help to ease their pain.

Karen’s dying leaves those of us living with CML, lost, confused and devastated. It leaves another hole in our hearts; another loss and another taken too soon, from this disease. We all have many questions, fears and concerns; but for now, those can wait. Right now all we can do is hold Karen and her family close in our hearts and remember the compassion and support that Karen always gave to us.

This it is a personal story that allows me a snippet of a glimpse, of how I believe that Karen may have felt in her last days.

A decade-ish ago, I had surgery to remove ovarian tumors; I was forewarned that the recovery was going to be brutal, and it was. I developed an infection several days post op and was near death; the hospital staff even had a student nurse in my room around the clock, monitoring my every breath and encouraging me to fight. What I remember from this time was being so sick, that all I wanted was to be left in my own little world; I did not wish to return to the real world.

The world that I had fallen into was a world that engulfed me in a way that sheltered me from my pain; I remember feeling completely at peace and utterly calm, and wished only to exist in that world. I swear that it was either angels or the Heavenly Father Himself, which wrapped their arms around me, and held me tight. I felt no fear and had lost that innate sense of fighting for survival; I was at peace, and was comfortable with dying. I did not have any regrets or any unfulfilled wishes; I was calm, accepting and very much, I believe, this is how Karen may have felt in the end; simply at peace.

I know that this may be difficult to comprehend, as sometimes it is hard for me to even look back and remember, but I truly believe that those of us that will knowingly face our own deaths’ will have nothing to fear. We will be able to face death with the faith, courage, strength and grace that our dear friend is currently, and graciously allowing us to witness.

Karen was a warrior that allowed us to share her journey; the good, the bad and the ugly and I am honored to have been a witness to this incredible, beautiful woman’s life.

Thank you Karen for the laughs, the love and the strength which you have shared; I shall carry your grace and faith with me, all of my days; May God Bless you, and hold you close during your final journey.




You rocked it, sister! I am proud to be your friend!

Bricks for the Brave!!