More Unknown

Three years ago in July my daughter Kate wrote a blog post titled ‘More Unknown.’ She had just had a bone marrow biopsy and learned she had developed a life-threatening side effect to her treatment for Ewing’s Sarcoma. 

Fast-forward to today. There is so much ‘unknown’ and things outside of our control right now: COVID-19, great sadness in the fight to ensure equality for all, and a rocky presidential election. 

In the midst of all of this…

People are still getting cancer and losing loved ones.

People still get divorced or lose jobs.

People still suffer from hunger and other atrocities. 

People still laugh.

Children still need to play and learn.

Excerpt from Kate’s blog:

Kate and her treatment friend, David at the Center.

I want to share something else that has also been heavy on my heart in the midst of all this sudden stress. A close friend of mine with a similar diagnosis, who I have watched receive treatment and spend the last year or so in a wonderful state of remission, sharing his story and connecting with others in similar situations, traveling and loving God fiercely, has relapsed. We sat down for lunch and he expressed his frustration, but also his peace with wherever life takes him as he plans to let nature take its course due to the severity of the relapse. We laughed a little about what it means to have this knowing, how unapologetically himself he will be. Having those loving conversations and deep connections with his friends and family, knowing what is important (and what is not), and knowing gratitude for the smallest things. We are too young to be having this conversation, but some people go through their entire lives without ever knowing what brings about a joyful heart. So maybe, this is a blessing. He has this unfaltering faith that amazes me, and I ask for prayers for him as he enters this next chapter of his life.

With the last couple weeks hitting me hard, I’m hoping to continue to manage stress and the next steps as easily as possible. I am thankful for my surrounding support system.

Today I’m getting a couple units of blood transfused and I’m out of town this weekend for a Mackinac wedding with close friends from college. Northern Michigan is a favorite place and there is nothing I love more than celebrating life and love (good drinks and amateur dancing included).

Kate with her boyfriend, David, at the wedding.

I wonder what Kate would make of our current world?  As I read these words she wrote three years ago, I am struck by how much they can apply to our situation today. She points out what really matters in life: “Having those loving conversations and deep connections with friends and family, knowing what is important (and what is not), and having gratitude for the smallest things. Some people go through their entire lives without ever knowing what brings about a joyful heart.

Kate wrote these words while actively dying, often in pain, and knowing her dear friend had recently relapsed. She still found ways to connect with her friends and family, have gratitude for the smallest things, and find a way to keep dancing.  

Can we?

-Janet Conzelmann

Janet is a CHC board member, human resource professional, and wine enthusiast currently chillin’ on the lakeshore. She entered her 50s completely broken by the death of her 22-year-old daughter Kate to Ewing’s Sarcoma. 

Kate was diagnosed with a terminal illness at age 19. The relationships she formed through the CHC were lifegiving and positively impacted her life. Janet stays involved with CHC, including its young adult program (AYA) as an extension of something that was dear to Kate.