Fighting For Kate
“Fighting for Kate”, a book written by our own Erin Miller, is aptly subtitled “The Inspirational Story of a Family’s Battle and Victory over Cancer.” This reader found the book to be engrossing reading, but far more than that. It is a profound testimony to the power of persistent prayer and the discovery of the incredible support of a spiritual family. Beyond that, the book is a living, day-by-day account of the working of the Almighty in the intimate details of this family’s journey through the “Valley of the Shadow.”
This book was written from the perspective of a grieving and loving mother who watched her little daughter suffer unspeakable pain. It is the narrative of those events and Erin’s and her family’s struggle to keep their faith and to find some kind of meaning and purpose in the challenges that accompanied each day for two years and seven months. Her husband Brandon, daughter Jenna, parents on both sides, siblings, close friends, and hosts of fellow Christians made the journey with Erin as you will discover as you read.
Erin and son Elijah (born during the events narrated in the book) came by my office before Christmas, bringing cupcakes and juice. We had an opportunity to talk about her book and the writing of this article. It is with her permission that I make a few observations about her “Letters to Kate,” her fervent prayers, and the application of passages accompanying her narrative.
I will begin with a quotation from Erin’s Letter from the Author: “Journaling the ups and downs of our journey was therapeutic. The pain and stress and joys and triumphs poured out of me and collected in a pool of words on the computer screen. But sometimes the story was too hard to tell. The turn of events at the end of Kate’s treatment was such a shock that it was months before I was able to write about it. It was too emotionally raw to dwell upon and put into words. Even after allowing time for the wound to heal, I still wept as I wrote and recounted the end of treatment. The anguish and fear and worry of those weeks was just too deep and perhaps always will be.
Two years after beginning, I typed the final words of our story. I felt a sense of closure and peace. That chapter of our lives was over and our new chapter of life after cancer had begun.
From the very day Kate was diagnosed, we prayed that God would be glorified in our journey. This novel is an extension of that prayer.”
The following is a brief sample from four of her letters:
“March 26, 2013, Dear Kate, There are moments in our lives we will never forget—the day we graduated from high school, the day your daddy got down on one knee an asked me to be his wife, the day we said, ‘I do,’ the birth of our sweet babies. The memories of these days fill our hearts with joy and bring smiles to our faces. Today, March 26 of 2013, is a day we will never forget. Today, you were diagnosed with cancer.”
“March 29, 2013, Dear Kate, The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) has the word ‘intensive’ in it for a reason. From the moment we were whisked upstairs and into your room in ICU in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, our days and nights have been non-stop! We are not sure that there is such a word as ‘rest’ in ICU, or frankly even the word ‘mealtime’ in ICU. This past week has been the most difficult week of our lives—mentally, emotionally, and physically. However, even through the most trying week of our lives, God has still given us a ray of light, has given us hope, and has reminded us that He, in all things, is watching over our little family each and every moment of the day.”
“April 5, 2013, Dear Kate, Grief has an unexpected way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. It can be triggered by an event, a song, a change in routine, and maybe just by seeing the bandage covering the toe prick that diagnosed you with leukemia. In the ICU, there was very little time to grieve and we were still most assuredly in shock. As the news of the diagnosis sunk in, the changes in our lives hit us like a ton of bricks. My tears were triggered by one thing after another as I watched our happy, normal life crumble before my very eyes. God was watching. Even though there were times when we couldn’t see for all the rain, He was watching—watching and waiting to send us a rainbow.”
Undated. “The characteristic of being still requires a lot of patience, and the lesson of patience in waiting rang clear during consolidation, didn’t it, Kate? During consolidation, frustration, bitterness, and discouragement definitely crept into my heart. These are all tools of Satan. While we have been waiting, Satan tried to tell me that God had forgotten us, and he worked to bring doubt into my heart. But I know God has not forgotten us. God is teaching me the beautiful design of waiting on and trusting in Him.”
The following are but a few of the passages which came to have special meaning during Erin’s and Brandon’s fight for Kate’s survival:
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
One year into Kate’s treatment Erin noted the strength she found in the following passages:
2 Samuel 22:7 – “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears.”
Psalms 3:3,4 – “But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.”
The blessing of coming home from the hospital seemed a perfect time for applying Job 26:14 – “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him!
But the thunder of His power who can understand?”
I close this article with the words of my friend Greg Chandler, who wrote in the Foreword to “Fighting for Kate” the following words: “Readers of Fighting for Kate will find a blessing within its pages. Whether a parent facing similar struggles with a child, a Christian in a time of challenge, or simply someone interested in the story, this book provides encouragement and strength. It reminds and equips us with strength to trust in God when the storms of life prevail. It strengthens our faith.
The life of a child is a precious jewel. In it flourishes hopes, dreams, and optimism for the future. Fighting for Kate reveals how the life of a child can influence parents and countless others to a closer walk with God. Erin’s story will also help you in your trek to higher ground.”
Well said, brother. I hope readers of this article will read the book.