A Stage-4 Cancer Patient Shares The Pain And Clarity Of Living 'Scan-To-Scan'Religion scholar Kate Bowler used to believe God had a plan for her life. Then she was diagnosed with incurable colon cancer. "I really had to rethink what trust and hope looks like," she says.
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Visit her website at: Kate Bowler: Historian, Author, Incurable Optimist.
Kate Bowler recently authored her new memoir: Everything Happens for a Reason (and other lies I’ve loved) (Random House, 2018). It tells the story of my struggle to understand the personal and intellectual dimensions of the American belief that all tragedies are tests of character.
TERRY GROSS, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Here's a few of the things my guest Kate Bowler doesn't want to hear about living with her incurable cancer - everything happens for a reason. God is writing a better story. Heaven is your true home. God needs another angel. It's not that she's lacking in faith. She just wants to avoid trite life lessons. Bowler is an associate professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School. Her new memoir, "Everything Happens For A Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved," is about how her faith has affected the way she deals with cancer and how her cancer has affected her faith.
She also reflects on the paradox that her first book was about, the history of the prosperity gospel, which preaches that God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith. Bowler was diagnosed in 2015 with stage IV colon cancer that had already metastasized. She's married, has a young son and can't bear the thought of him growing up without her. What's kept her alive in addition to colon surgery and chemo is experimental immunotherapy treatments that helped shrink her tumors.
Kate Bowler, welcome to FRESH AIR. I want to ask you to start with a reading from the preface to your book.
KATE BOWLER: Oh, sure. (Reading) Married in my 20s, a baby in my 30s, I won a job at my alma mater straight out of graduate school. I felt breathless with the possibilities. Actually, it's getting harder to remember what it felt like, but I don't think it was anything as simple as pride. It was certainty, plain and simple, that God had a worthy plan for my life in which every setback would also be a step forward. I wanted God to make me good and make me faithful with just a few shining accolades along the way. Anything would do if hardships were only detours on my long life's journey. I believed that God would make a way. I don't believe that anymore.
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