Cancer victim finds the silver lining



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Carrol Krause spoke about her experience with cancer at the Venue of Fine Arts and Gifts on Tuesday. She was diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of the disease last year. Annie Garau

Carrol Krause is dying, and she’s happier than she’s been in a long time.

Her death isn’t something she can control. Health-wise, she did everything right in life. She ate organic food and exercised every day. She had none of the risk factors for the carcinosarcoma rapidly, unstoppably spreading inside her body.

Krause, the former “Homes” writer for the Bloomington Herald-Times, said it’s pointless to ask why she, of all people, has been diagnosed with this form of lethal cancer fewer than 200 other women in the country have.

“We all have to lose a game sometimes, and fairness has nothing to do with it,” she said. “It’s the luck of the draw, it’s the cards you happen to be dealt. We all know that our lives are finite, and this fact is simply not 
negotiable.”

With this in mind, she decided to adopt a new way of looking at her 
disease.

Cancer is not a war to be won, 
she said.

“I myself tend toward pacifism,” she explained. “I don’t want to fight anything or anyone. Nor do I want to engage in battles or wage wars.”

In her lifetime, she’s witnessed the effects of the wars in Vietnam, the Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq, the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. She said none of those turned out well, and she didn’t want to associate her sickness with a hopeless battle.

This transformed mindset, along with other uncommon ways of viewing her disease, has completely altered her experience of living with cancer. It’s made it a bearable, even pleasurable, chapter in her life.

On Tuesday, she decided to share this way of thinking with anyone who wanted to hear it. She stood in front of friends, family and strangers at the Venue of Fine Art and Gifts and recited a speech she called “Accessing Cancer’s Silver Lining.”

“I thought about how there is no cure for this disease and ultimately no hope for me,” she said. “Then I began thinking about how I was alive instead of dead. And I went over in my mind all the things that make me happy, all the things that make me feel most myself.”

She said she thought about her garden, her passion for sewing, her family and all of the goals she has already accomplished in life, like achieving her childhood dream of becoming a writer.

Krause said the cancer has also helped her appreciate each day more profoundly, like when she was a child and everything was new and exciting.

She finds herself crying with joy when she hears an orchestra, sees a beautiful painting or smells the lilies in her garden.

“To see and feel things this way again, after so many years of not really paying much attention, is incredible,” she said to the audience members, who nodded emphatically and dabbed hankies to their eyes. “It’s a gift. And this gift is definitely worth a death sentence.”

Her outlook has not only been helpful for her, it has also been a comfort to her loved ones.

“It’s inspiring to see her level of acceptance,” her son, Miles Reiter, said. “I think it can be applied to anything in life that’s going badly.”

Michelle Martin-Colman, who attended the speech, agreed that Krause’s attitude can help anyone who hears it.

“Just the thought that someone would be so uplifting about a topic that normally people don’t talk about at all, or when they do it’s with such a down-turned approach, is incredible,” she said. “I think it’s really important that we learn to celebrate life rather than mourn the passing of it.”

Krause, whose cancer is currently in stage four, said she realizes not everyone’s experience with the disease is as easy as hers has been. She is still able to eat, walk outside and, for the most part, engage with life as she normally would. Her hair has grown back in beautiful, shiny waves.

Even so, she said she hopes other cancer patients can gain something from hearing about her journey to acceptance and appreciation.

“I feel very strongly that each person who gets a cancer diagnosis should be able to obtain some form of emotional health support,” she said. “And this can be done by helping new cancer patients to understand that there is a silver lining to cancer, a beautiful one. It’d be great if each new cancer patient was shown how to focus properly on the half-full glass that they’re holding.”

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