The following was written especially for The Intentional Journey by my dear friend, Angela Kent, and originally published on Sept 7, 2011. We were notified tonight that this afternoon she "passed from this life into eternal life with Jesus." Her stepdad, Jack Morris, said this, "
"I know my plans for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, and to give you a hope and future." - Jeremiah 29:11
"When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; You hold me by your right hand. You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." - Psalm 73:21-26
It was the spring of 2010, and the second full year of my doctoral program. I had begun to experience headaches. I made three different trips to the health center and always received the same answer, “It is just your sinuses." Not having any major medical problems before I had no reason to doubt them but when it happened again I started to vomit. I figured out later I was vomiting due to the extreme pain in my head and my body could not tolerate it. I am a stubborn one, but on Friday April 23, 2010, I had had enough. My friend was up from Indiana and I asked him to take me to the ER. The first thing they did was perform a CT scan on my head and they found a mass in my brain and it would need to be removed. I was happy that they were going to take the pain away because that was the worse pain I had ever experienced. It was April 26 when they operated and said that everything went well. The next day, when I was more coherent, they told me that the mass in my head was a tumor and that I had cancer. I did not sign up for cancer, just the removal of the mass. I then had to go through a number of more tests to determine if there was more cancer in my body.
Needless to say, I found out that I have stage four metastatic breast cancer. Although, there was never any cancer in my breast tissue, that is my primary site of origin. They cannot cure it but only try to prolong my life. So I gave up that summer and started chemotherapy and radiation. I tolerated treatment well, but still not into the fact that I will forever have to be doing some kind of treatment.
I was angry at first and I asked God why? I researched Job and why did God allow him (of all people) to be put through such an ordeal. Job did nothing wrong, but he was a great man of faith. So despite not knowing any answers to my why I had to regroup and slowly move on. I was given three months off after finishing treatment in September and the cancer quickly came back in November. I asked for a second opinion and went to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. They confirmed treatment and opened my eyes to my prognosis (meaning my time frame of life). The average was 2.5 years, with 20% living 5 years and 2% living 10. I was angry that no one had told this to me before.
After crying, being angry, and knowing that cancer will take my life sooner than what I thought, I began to re-prioritize what meant the most in my life and what do I want to invest my final years in. Enter in the creation of my bucket list of things I wanted to do before I die. These are things that are specific to me but in which others will be included to participate in the experience and the memory.
3. Visit all 50 states- about 10 to go
6. Ride through the redwood national forest in northern California
7. Finish my PhD- I need the support of my CECP family here.
8. Have one article published nationally
9. Write a book, spiritual in nature
10. Attend the Rose Bowl or any other major college bowl game 01/01/12
11. Continue to photograph people, places, and things
12. Learn to cook a little more
13. Visit Australia/ New Zealand
14. The great Wall of China/ Japan
17. Marriage- I am not counting it out - must be Christian
18. Laughter, love and time spent with friends- on going
19. The wine valley in California
20. Go snorkeling again
21. See a volcano
22. See as many National parks as possible
23. To see, breathe, and speak God's nature to all people. – On going
The ones crossed out are the ones that have been completed. I have also completed more than what is on this list thus far. One that was not listed was Community Theater. Last spring I was in the performance of the Vagina Monologues and I dearly loved it. I had always wanted to go out for plays in high school but was always to shy. It is hard to rank what has meant the most because as I cross off each one it is more about the relationships rather than the activity. My friend, Sophie, is coming with me to the Rose Bowl and she does not follow football- that is love. Disney was a blast and so was the company. The dragon’s tail was biker heaven, but the company I will cherish. Picture rocks, the reunion of the stooges with some snoring in the room. One itty-bitty state you should visit is Rhode Island – beautiful! Jessi and I blew glass, literally.
I have cherished all the traveling will all the different people and the people who are in my life bless me beyond belief. Through all this doing I have learned many things, but one is very clear to me and is more prominent that the rest. More so than any other time in my life do I want to store up treasures in heaven. I ache over my friends that are not believers because the thought of them not being in heaven with me one day is sadness in my soul. I know my fate lies in heaven but I want to take as many people as I can with me.
As my cancer continues to appear in different places of my body, my prayer is not for healing, rather for strength and for God’s will to be done. My heart has been eased at the thought of leaving this world and moving on to the next. We were not made for this world, but to be with God, our father, in His Kingdom. Many people still pray that I will be healed physically and I let them, but I just seek to do the will of the Father, and to shine my light as bright as I can for the one who has saved me. On my journeys I mean to enjoy myself, take in God’s greatness here on earth, and sharing the word to as many people as I can. There is a fire deep within and it cannot be squelched by cancer or death. I strive to leave a legacy of Christ.
Angela Kent was originally from Moline, Illinois. She was an avid Colts and Notre Dame fan. She was working on getting her PhD in Counselor education and supervision at Western Michigan University. She held a MA in Marriage and Family Therapy from Indiana Wesleyan University. When she wasn't working on her dissertation you could find her riding her Suzuki C50 motorcycle. She loved adventure and was thankful to God for everything. She died on December 1, 2011, surrounded both physically and technologically by a host of her family and friends.