It’s been a decade now since we started The Heroes Project, our way of celebrating survivorship and supporting the fight against cancer. Every year in this issue, we introduce a new group of survivors and tell their stories in print and online. Stories of courage, of hope and of remarkable resilience. There are well over 100 Gwinnett Magazine Heroes.
You cannot sink so low in your despairing of your own resources that God does not see and care. In fact, He is at the bottom, waiting to catch you.
Around the time most men are contemplating a life of retirement, travel, rounds of golf, and maybe some volunteer service, Ken Carter of Lilburn was preparing for the hardest work of his life.
“When we heard the words ‘cancer stage 4,’ life stopped—just like everyone says,” remembers Ken. “You hunker down and get ready for the battle, and battle it is—all day, every day.”
That stage 4 diagnosis was for the bladder cancer that struck two weeks before last Christmas. Which would have been devastating enough without having just finished treatment for prostate cancer that had been diagnosed three years earlier. That had meant a prostatectomy, radiation, oral medication, and shots over a three-year period, and now, in the midst of the holidays, it was beginning again.
“For us,” recalls Ken’s wife Rose, “We continued to go through Christmas, New Year’s, and so many events (most missed and modified) and traditions, but soon the treatments and many, many doctors’ appointments began, along with side effects such as weakness, etc. And the non-essential activities fell by the side.”
The non-essentials have a way of doing that. But the Carter family was not going through this second journey alone.
“Thank goodness we have a wonderful family and large support system of friends and church family. They send us cards, pray for us, visit us, make meals, treats, and we Facetime with grandchildren.”
When grown children stop by on their day off, when Rose’s beautician comes to the house to cut Ken’s hair, when a friend checks on you every day, when another walks the aisles of the grocery store with you, and others lend untold numbers of therapy furniture, you know that despite the cancer diagnosis and the battle, you have been blessed.
Still, the Carters wouldn’t be normal if they didn’t at least ponder the unanswerable question: “Why?” Through their faith, Ken and Rose have found rest in at least exploring the possible reasons.
“Is it to purify us through the ‘fires’ or to bring us to a place of simple dependency so that we know where our strength comes from? Maybe to give us focus and purpose so that we will cull out the unnecessary drains on our lives or simply to create gratitude for all that we do have. Probably, it is all of the above. Just having a reason for the hard times makes it more bearable. You cannot sink so low in your despairing of your own resources that God does not see and care. In fact, He is at the bottom, waiting to catch you.”
Whatever brought them to this state of affairs, whatever their apprehension about the future, the Carters lean on the hope, shared by a dear friend as she cared for her cancer-stricken son. And they take life, as she did, “not one day at a time, but one prayer at a time.”
In a world of uncertainty, one thing Ken knows for sure: “I cherish life much more than I did before the diagnosis.”
Ken’s story made possible by a grant from Primerica
Thank you for helping us to share Ken’s inspirational story.