Kasi Carrol was just two years old when her mom first battled breast cancer. Though Kasi has just a few memories of that time, she knows it wasn’t easy for her mom or her family. But it was completely devastating to her entire family when her mom’s cancer returned as ovarian cancer more than twenty years later.
“I would burst into to tears every time I saw her,” Kasi said. It was beyond difficult to see her mom weak and suffering in chemo-related side effects like hair loss, extensive nausea and bone pain.
Cancer—All In The Family
In 1999, Kasi’s older sister, Kim Stephens, was diagnosed with melanoma—skin cancer— from a mole on her back. It was quickly removed and the doctors assured her it hadn’t spread. But eight years later, the skin cancer returned in the same area on her back. Thought she didn’t have any alarming symptoms, the scan showed the cancer had invaded her lungs and several lymph nodes. Kim went through treatment with miraculous strength, working full-time and taking care of her kids.
Kasi watched and prayed with hope as her sister battled cancer, sometimes feeling helpless, but believing and anticipating God’s total healing. In 2008, Kasi married, and they began life together, planning and dreaming as newlyweds, never imagining the pain and loss their first few years of marriage would bring.
In 2009, Kim was treated for a cancerous tumor in her brain with radiation. But during the third treatment, the tumor burst, and spread into her spinal fluid, causing tumors to spread throughout her body.
“She literally went from being okay one day, to being paralyzed in the hospital the next. She was my best friend, we talked several times a day, and I spent every evening in the hospital with her.”
As Kim battled the cancerous tumors that took over her body, her family remained hopeful in Kim’s strong spirit and God’s ability to heal. But after a second hospital stay plagued with seizures, Kim’s body couldn’t hold up. She passed away, leaving behind her husband and twelve-year-old son, mother, sister, and a grief-stricken community.
“Though our hearts felt immeasurable grief, we had reminders of God’s presence in the minute details of Kim’s funeral; it was God comforting us–sustaining us when it felt unbearable.”
Cancer Strikes Again
“It’s not a death sentence. You’ll be fine.”
Doctors tried to instill confidence in Kasi when a lump was discovered during a routine exam. Tests and months later, it was confirmed: breast cancer.
“It almost felt like a bad dream; surely this couldn’t really be happening.”
Then came the blur of appointments, tests and needles. And, not to mention, the “mini meltdowns” full of hard questions, screams of frustration, and uncontrollable sobbing.
“I didn’t ask God, ‘Why us?’ But I did wonder, ‘Why NOW?’”
In her first year of marriage, she had tragically lost her sister to cancer and had now been diagnosed with cancer herself. Life wasn’t nearly as picture-perfect as she had imagined it would be when she got married.
Kasi found herself in an MRI machine, literally flooding it and her hospital gown with tears, desperately pleading to God for good news. The good news did come: The MRI showed the cancer was contained to her breast and hadn’t spread. The hard recovery of a double mastectomy followed, including chemo and its side effects of hair loss and the near impossibility of having children.
Kasi and her husband Jamey, knowing the difficulty of starting a family while undergoing cancer treatments, decided to try invitrofertilization. Having frozen several embryos, after the chemotherapy treatments were finished, Kasi and Jamey moved on in the IVF process, only to miscarry a child. The second IVF attempt failed, and they gave up trying to start a family.
But almost two years later, to their surprise, Kasi was pregnant, and delightfully welcomed their first son, Mason. Life was busy, full and joy, firsts and surprises—like the surprise of being pregnant again only three months after Mason’s birth. And another not-so-nice surprise of finding another lump; the cancer had returned. Another surgery was needed as soon as possible. Five months pregnant, she had to make the decision to postpone chemotherapy treatments until after baby number two was born.
Tucker was born right on time, and within two months Kasi began a sequence of 35 radiation treatments. Swirled in children and doctor appointments, Kasi was able to bravely face each cancer treatment one day at a time with the help of her family members.
With God All Cancer Is Possible
Currently, Kasi is all clear and cancer free, but there is always the fear that cancer might attack again. Because of her family history and the odds of cancer returning, Kasi has decided to be as preventative as humanly possible. This past May, at the suggestion of multiple doctors, Kasi underwent a voluntary hysterectomy.
But it’s not faith in the medical expert or preventative care that gives Kasi security. It’s faith in God—a faith that has been tested through staggering losses and unexpected cancer. Through her journey, Kasi realizes there are some answers she will never have. But she has discovered God’s consistency in an unpredictable and volatile world.
Kasi says there are times when the destruction of cancer feels like a losing battle. Her mom is currently on her fourth cancer battle; Kasi watches and admires her mom’s amazing strength while she undergoes yet another round of chemo.
The story isn’t over for Kasi and her family. They continue to walk in God’s strength and hope throughout their individual and collective fight with cancer. Even in the hardest moments of cancer, Kasi says they have encountered the unparalleled faithfulness of God.
“I don’t know how people go through things like cancer without God. It’s unimaginable to me.”