Karen & Kurt 
Edgewood in St. Denis

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Smart Woman

Ten Years

Posted by karenandkurt on May 2, 2011 at 4:19 PM

For two months I have been trying to find the time – and headspace – to write about post-surgery. I’ve thought about blogs on Lilly & Marshall from How I Met Your Mother and today’s news of Osama bin Laden’s death continues to compete with anything I had planned.


So, I’ll work backward from one and save the other for later.


Kurt and I found out this morning (Monday, May 2) that bin Laden is dead. I had just gotten up and Kurt is running up the stairs to tell me what is on the news. Unlike the rest of the Baltimore-Washington corridor, we went to bed last night – after  three episodes of How I Met Your Mother – and didn’t see the late news. Or the president address the country. Or the spontaneous crowds chanting “USA! USA!”


We stood in front of the TV and watched all of this for the first time and I cried. Not from joy and not from sadness. It has been 10 years and I have feared that my biggest sin has been a desire for this man’s death.  Maybe it was the weight of this sin and maybe it was the relief that this man, who destroyed so much in our world and led us to destroy so much more, is finally dead and his body committed to the depths of the sea.


Osama bin Laden is dead.


Ten years ago this month, I was finishing all but one of my graduate courses. I was planning a wedding to the wrong man. I was applying for teaching positions at colleges and specifically with Fredonia State. I spent a lot of my free time at Burger King and I was working for the summer at The Journal-Register, officially as a writer and unofficially as a “de facto” AME, since the editor didn’t know how to handle lot of the things the paper was dealing with publically.


The twin towers fell that September, just when I thought I had everything together. That destruction started the chain of events that led to the school deciding not to renew my contract and I lost my teaching position. New York State pulled money from every budget to clean-up Ground Zero.  The first anniversary I organized a prayer service as a campus minister to commemorate the deaths of 3,000 people.


The economy was rocked and continues to rock today. Organizations and newspapers and schools were not hiring; or if they were, journalists with more experience than I had were getting those positions first because they had just lost theirs. After job hunting, quietly, for two years, I came to Maryland and CHADD.


And that is when I met Kurt.


We married last year (a lot of you were there) and had four months of a honeymoon before the DCIS diagnosis. We have been through seven months of biopsies and surgeries and now reconstruction.  It has been a steady but painful road and we have been fortunate to be supported by loving family and good friends.


As you know, I lost my breast to a mastectomy on Feb. 28. The surgery, as Kurt reported, went well. The pathology didn’t show anything we didn’t already know – the DCIS was diffused throughout the breast tissue. But, it was still entirely contained within the ducts and it had not spread. The good news is this surgery was the end of the cancer treatment. No medicines, no chemo, no poisons to contend with. For the rest of my life, it is now an issue of prevention.

Kurt has been wonderful this entire time. He holds my hands when I go for the saline injections to expand the tissue for the new “breast.” He listens to my fears about the next surgery to replace the expander with the permanent breast form. He validates my worries and helps me to work them through.  He tells me that I am whole even though my breast is gone. I have been so blessed to have found this wonderful man at this point in my life.


It has been 10 years and my life have changed so much and so quickly that I still stop and wonder what just happened. There are moments when I cry about September 11. There are moments when I am angry that I lost my teaching position. There are times when I miss my students terribly. There are moments where I long to be in a newsroom and to chase the story – and times when I wonder how I did that on so little sleep and less money. I’m still 28, I think. But I’m not and this world is no longer as it was.


On the other side of these ten years, I see this wonderful man that I have married. September 11 set off a chain of events that shaped my adult life, even though I was in Dunkirk when the planes hit. Osama bin Laden is dead and I try to pray that God will have mercy on his soul. I’ve been brought through the storm of ten years begun that day and found shelter in a home with Kurt.



Categories: Our Family, Health, Deep Thoughts

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Reply MJ
12:00 AM on May 3, 2011 
Karen, What a great blog! So well done and I think of you often. Thanks so much for the update on your health. Will see you soon, and keeping you in my prayers. Have faith, hope and love. take care , MJ
Reply Marcy
5:32 PM on May 3, 2011 
How fast 10 years have gone! We are proud of you and very proud to have Kurt with you in our family.....mom