How to Get Cancer

As my sister was reaching for a Coke Zero earlier today, I began my well-practiced spiel about the dangers of artificial sweeteners and she gave me a look that said it all. It said, “And why would I listen to you about health advice??” Touché. Here I am at 30 with stage 4 metastatic melanoma (a very aggressive form, no less) and there she stood, the picture of health drinking her diet cola. So I thought to myself, “hmm, maybe it’d be a better service to people to tell them what I did to get cancer and they can try to not make the same mistakes.”

I do lots of research these days and I very much enjoy looking into suggestions people give me, reading articles they send me, or just doing my own digging. In my research, I ran across an article entitled “How to Guarantee You Never Get Cancer”. Wow! Guarantee? NEVER?? I need to share this with people. So I took the list to heart, and here’s how I fared when comparing my life to the list:

1. Exercise.
When I was diagnosed last year, I was running between 3-5 miles at least 5 times a week. I also was doing yoga and walking the kids and dog around the neighborhood as often as possible. We enjoyed a very active lifestyle.

2. Don’t go tanning.
Have you seen me? I could make Casper jealous! I take porcelain to a whole new level. Tanning has never really been my thing, although I will admit I did visit a tanning bed a few times a week for a month before our wedding. But besides a few burns here and there, I definitely would not have been one that would be at the top of the list to get skin cancer. Go figure! But even if mine wasn’t necessarily from sun exposure, most is, and I’m glad that people can see how dangerous and awful this cancer is based on my experiences. But I digress.

3. Don’t smoke.
Never did.

4. Increase intake of vegetables and fruit.
I’m not perfect in this department, but I’ve tended in recent years to start opting for raw, fresh, and organic over processed and refined. I’ve started most days in the last two years with a smoothie made from organic spinach, almonds, flax powder, and whatever fruit we had on hand. That being said, I’m self-aware enough to admit that there are very few baked goods that I’d turn my nose up at. Whatever, I’m only human.

5. Don’t eat processed meats.
I can honestly say I’ve never bought lunch meat or hot dogs or ham in our 6 years of marriage. Not that we don’t eat them occasionally at other places. And bacon is a rarity. Like maybe once every few months?? Our meat, if not straight from the source (venison or duck that my husband hunts), we get the steroid, hormone, and antibiotic free stuff, the free-range eggs and all that jazz.

6. Avoid artificial sweeteners
Besides a few years in college when I had diabetic roommates (who I miss so much!) who only drank sugar-free beverages (and I was too much of a mooch to buy my own), I’ve never been one for artificial sweeteners. I don’t chew gum or eat sugar-free candy and I put real dark brown sugar in my coffee every day (seriously, try it. It’s amazing).

So after reading this article, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “How in the world did I get cancer??”

And now I’m gonna hit you with some knowledge. Ready? You could do everything right (everything!) and still be told one day that you have cancer.

There is a huge element of unfairness to this disease. Of course, some cancers are lifestyle based and sun safety and awareness are so important for preventing melanoma and stopping the use of tanning beds immediately and altogether is in everyone’s best interest. But truthfully, my experience with this turd is probably more an unfortunate mix of genetics and bad luck than sun damage. Or maybe it was this:

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Haha, but in all seriousness, I’m not saying don’t research healthy living, or supplements, or antioxidants, because I believe that those things (and all of the tips listed above) really can help us live longer, healthier lives. But where exactly, besides feeling angry and cheated, does that leave us once we hear the bad news that we too are affected by cancer? No one is immune and no one can guarantee that it can’t happen to you.

But we are guaranteed strength for each day, peace in the hard moments, and the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ. As my three year old told me the other night, “God won’t let us go as long as we let Him hold us”. Pretty profound for someone who still eats his boogers, right? God never promises us that life will be fair, not ever. All of our struggles are different, and I truly believe that that makes it so that we can effectively minister to different people. We would be completely ineffective at reaching people if we didn’t struggle. And that’s the beauty in this journey. There are no guarantees in life besides the fact that there is a God who loves us and a savior who died for us, and just knowing that should bring so much joy and gratitude into our hearts that our struggles can be seen only as opportunities to minister to the very much real and hurting people all around us.

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5 thoughts on “How to Get Cancer

  1. if there is a Pulitzer Prize for bloggers, you will win hands down. Amazing. “My husband hunts” not “my husband shot”. Meaning the great hunter missed everything he shot at and had to stop at SKH on the way home to pick up some frozen duck ;). You are deeply loved and greatly admired. Pure Joy.

  2. Great post Kim! During my cancer journey, I read a lot of things too. Eat this and your cancer will be cured. Even when researching my treatment options online, articles would pop up saying if I did chemo it was going to kill me faster than the cancer. Scary stuff when you’re already feeling very vulnerable.

  3. Dear Kim, I’ve responded to your blog posts only in my heart and to others that know you, and some that don’t but who also read your blog. I’ve never been privileged to “watch” someone go through the cancer struggle you face with such strength and courage. You say you are not always strong or courageous, but I believe God is using this disease in your body to minister to many people. I still pray for your healing, Kim, imagining the awesome testimony THAT would be, but that being said, your life NOW is a living testimony to the awesome power of Jesus in your life. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  4. I must respond to you again, Kim. This is a well balanced, well thought out view of how life really is. As Psalm 139 puts it “such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain unto it…” That Psalm and many other wonderful passages suchas Isaiah 40 – keep things in perspective. God is God. He gives and takes away. We do our best to be reasonable, obedient, loving, careful, etc. but that never guarantees any length of days or quality of life. Jesus own words admonish us to realize that worrying will not add one inch of height or any more hairs on our heads. Paul wrote and preached about the value of suffering. We really have the priviledge to take on suffering to complete God’s work. Wow. In our culture, we do not value suffering. We cannot be patient in pain. We do not understand, even as born again Christians, how much being like Christ in His suffering brings us closer to Him and more of a witness to others around us.
    You are in a position to teach many great lessons of faith and you are doing it well. It is not our job to judge why things happen the way they do or judge God by how much ease and blessing we receive. This is all part of a much greater plan. I for one, have studied the Word and been on my knees for hours and hours crying out to God for mercy and grace for those who suffer. I cry out for the “church” to recognize that we are to take on the whole message of His life, not just the parts we feel comfortable with. May many of your friends, family and readers learn this valuable lesson through you. There are many Psalms where King David is under great stress, physical danger and oppression. He always concluded each one with praises to God because he learned to Trust His God. That is what you are learning to do and teaching others. Thank you for voicing what is deep inside. This is the message of Hope and Salvation we all need to hear. By the way, I am a great champion of healthy eating and am working hard to share that message with others around me. However, I have learned that there is no magic supplement or food or cleansing or anything that guarantees us life without cancer or another ailment. Something physical will take us eventually. What a JOY to Know that we have an eternal perspective that Guarantees our Eternal Home with Jesus – free of such things. Now that is something to shout about. Go Girl!

  5. Kim,you are truly inspiring and your ability to share your thoughts and feelings are so real and honest,they are such a gift,I pray the LORD would continue to be Glorified through you ,and His will to be done.Our trust is in Him!!!

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