My friend Jeremy shared a haiku with me the other day and it’s been rattling around in my head…
The news came today,
things look so different on
this side of knowing.
It’s actually coming up on three months since the news came to me that I have cancer. And holy shite, things do indeed look so different on this side of knowing. It’s not that life has come to a grinding halt – it’s that life has powerfully moved forward and taken on a different glow entirely and every relationship, moment, meal, nap, kiss, song, cup of coffee… exists in light of something I can’t (and dare not) unknow.
And the strange thing is that it isn’t all bad. I wouldn’t wish this diagnosis on anyone, but I wish everyone could feel this way. I wish everyone knew what it’s like to have the world rise up to catch you. It’s all so awful and awe-filled at the same time. Devastated and blessed, cursed and lucky, betrayed and beloved – that’s all me, and I’m utterly grief-stricken and grateful. Things look so different on this side of knowing.
AND TOMORROW, this wild-eyed, talented group of people are putting on a production of Pump Boys and Dinettes to raise funds for Farm Church so that my salary (with health care and death and disability benefits) is secure. I can hardly believe it. To get tickets or just to make a donation, go to PumpBoysForBen. I just learned yesterday that there’s are still some seats both nights, so there’s room for you! Hope to see you there. : )
On this side of knowing there’s stage 4 cancer, a CT scan this Friday morning, and giant question marks looming on the horizon. And there’s also some holy wondering, joy that comes from deep meaning, and a daily, uncontainable avalanche of gratitude that I can barely begin to express. It’s all so real I can hardly stand it. Thank you, dear friends, for catching me these precious and precarious days. I love you for it.
It's been a while since my last check-in. For a time over Christmas and New Year's, I had the flu and then a cold, and I'm not kidding - I honestly found myself thinking, "Gee, it'll be so nice to shake this stuff and just have cancer again."
So now I just have cancer again, and truly it's a relief. Things are going well. The Osimertinib is doing it's job, which means that my cancer cells are currently dormant. The mass that was bulging on my neck has shrunk, and my oncologist says that the same is true for the tumors in my lungs. A CT scan at the end of this month will say more, but based on the fuller breaths I'm able to take these days, I trust that those tumors have gotten much smaller too.
To be clear, the targeted therapy I'm taking doesn't "kill" the cancer in my body. Rather, it makes it inactive. We're not sure how long it will work for me. Could be a year or two or seven. We'll have to wait and see. Fortunately the side effects are not overwhelming, and so life is as normal as it can be, given everything that's going on.
I want to THANK all of you who have given to my "Live Into Hope" campaign. We set our sights on a goal of raising $130,000 to cover my salary and benefits through Farm Church, and to date, a good wheelbarrow-load of you have given just over $35,000.
I'm floored. Humbled. Thrilled. So, so grateful. Gifts have come in from "kids" who were in my Oswego Presbyterian Church youth group back in the 1990's. And from churches I served in Texas and Wisconsin. From former "UPC Barcodes" in Austin. From friends here in Durham. From people I've met at conferences and workshops all over the country. From strangers to whom I am now connected in gratitude and love.
I keep saying it: I wouldn't wish this on anyone, and yet I wish everyone could feel what it's like to be so loved and held in community. Thank you all for being a part of that!
If you'd still like to contribute, I'll stick the info below.
Much, much love, you wild, loving people in my life. I can't imagine it all without you.
LIVE INTO HOPE FUND
In 2018, Farm Church’s “Live into Hope” fund will support the costs of full salary and benefits for our Co-Planter, Pastor Ben Johnston-Krase, as he and his family face his cancer diagnosis.
As we learn what it means to truly “Live into Hope” during this difficult journey, we are hopeful that Ben will be able to be a full-time pastor to Farm Church for as long as he is willing. At the same time, this fund ensures that Ben and his family are fully protected throughout this process with adequate income and full benefits provided through the Presbyterian (USA) Board of Pensions, including health insurance, pension, and death & disability coverage. This budget also anticipates the likelihood that at some point Ben may need to activate disability benefits, in which case he would receive 60% of his base salary.
How to Give:
- Make a tax-deductible gift online to the Live into Hope Fund at www.farmchurch.org
- Mail a check (See note below!) made to Farm Church with “Live into Hope” on the memo line to:
c/o Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church
927 West Trinity Avenue
Durham, NC 27701
NOTE: For accounting purposes, it is important that all checks are made out to “Farm Church” with “Live into Hope” in the memo line. Please do NOT put Ben’s name on them anywhere.
Other Ways to be Involved:
- Lift up Ben and his family in your prayers during this time of fear, hope, and waiting.
- Help us Identify other folks that might be called to support this ministry.
-Contact Carynne McIver Button with questions about donating or getting involved at firstname.lastname@example.org.