Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Best Giveaway Ever


Last night, I finished reading Because of Katie: A True Story by Karen Gerstenberger, a woman who I am proud to call friend and grateful to call a deep inspiration and source of wisdom, spiritual advice and compassion. Karen's daughter Katie and my daughter Sophie share the exact same birthday (March 8, 1995), so I've always felt a kinship with her. I literally began to read the book when I ripped it out of its wrapping, standing at the dining room table. I continued to read it through the late afternoon, lying in Sophie's room when she came home from school, even holding it as I cooked dinner. After the children were in bed and I'd finished catching up on email and blogs last night, I finished the book in bed, around 11:00 and quickly got up to send an email to Karen, thanking her for sharing her story with the world.

The book is an honest and quite searing account of the journey Karen's family took when their eleven year old daughter, beautiful Katie, was diagnosed with a particularly gruesome and rare form of cancer. The writing is gripping, harrowing at parts, but always informed by Karen's grace and honesty and courage. I believe it to be not just an important personal story, a courageous and honest portrayal of what happens to a tight-knit family as they cope with a grueling treatment plan, but also an important primer for people in the healthcare profession. There is little to no anger in this book -- only the right raging of a mother whose child is dying -- but Karen is generous in pointing out how "the system" worked and how it didn't. As a person who has worked quite extensively in the "quality improvement" area of children with special healthcare needs, I know that this book should be shared with all medical students, doctors and people involved in the care of children who are sick or disabled, and I hope it will be.

From a personal standpoint, although my own experience caring for Sophie for the last seventeen years is quite different than Karen's for Katie, I found renewed strength and inspiration reading Karen's account. I think her descriptions of her family's, particularly her own, growing and intense intimacy with Katie as her treatment progressed and then later when they knew she was going to die, resonated with me the most. I realized that my own family has a startling intimacy with Sophie, and while it might be overwhelming at times, it is, essentially, a gift.

Thank you, Karen, again, for sharing your story with the world, and I hope that everyone has a chance to read this beautiful book.

To begin to make that happen, I am thrilled to offer TWO autographed copies of Because of Katie to two of my readers. Please leave a comment here to enter the giveaway -- perhaps a word of support for Karen or for those who might need support in their own journeys caring for a sick or disabled son or daughter. I will announce the winners on Monday, February 20th.

THE WINNER OF THE GIVEAWAY IS: Taylor's Healing Arts. Please send me your email address ASAP!


I FORGOT! THE SECOND WINNER OF THE GIVEAWAY IS: se (Please send me your email address ASAP!

25 comments:

  1. Is this the same Katie who inspired Katie's Comforters Guild (and for which you knit a blanket)?

    If all goes as planned (ha!), I'm hoping to work as a pediatric oncology nurse when I graduate. I would love to read their story, and to learn more about Katie.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would love to read a copy of Karen's book! I have followed her blog off and on from hopefulparents.org. I would read it as a special needs mom myself and also as a current nursing student (in my 40s! second career for me) who may work with families and sick children someday. I am sure I can learn a lot from her personal journey. She certainly has a positive spirit that shines through in her blog.

    Carrie T.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Elizabeth, thank you. I've autographed the books and they'll be on their way to you soon. Blessings to you and all who read this!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I started writing this long, long comment. Then I just couldn't do it.
    This is what I want to say- thank-you, Elizabeth, for opening windows into rooms many of us have never entered. And to Karen, as well, thank-you.
    That's all.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The cover photograph is so beautiful
    and grace-filled.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have known about sweet Katie for a few years after you mentioned her. I've also visited Karen's blog from time to time. To lose a child must be the greatest grief know. To put it into words for others to share and receive comfort from is a truly unselfish gift.

    Best,
    Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am a dear friend of Karen's too. We met by blogging, with the similar loss of our only daughters-yet quite a different cause for their much to early deaths.
    My daughter, Sarah, and her daughter, Katie-we both think have met and were part of the way that Karen and I have met along with 2 other marvelous women---both who lost sons.
    The journey of losing one of your children is something a mother hates to imagine will ever happen to her---and yet in this land we find ourselves now living--has incredible hues of beauty that we would never have known. Not that any of us would give up immediately, but unfortunately, we don't get a vote to do that. In this land of loss, I have met and leaned on some incredible women. For that I am thankful. I can't wait to read her book. Hopefully, someday, I too will do the same. Thank you for a wonderful tribute to Katie and her mom.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Congratulations to Karen for her strength and grace to share this story with others. Your tribute to her is lovely, Elizabeth.

    There is so much to learn and know in this world of sick and dying children. There is so much loveliness and hope among the sadness and despair. It never quite balances out, but those moments of light keep us slogging through the dark hours.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This s a touching post, Elizabeth, at so many levels, that of friendship and of parenting, especially the parenting that involves the extreme demands of a child with a disability and further the demands of losing a child. I can almost not bear to think about it. My best wishes to Karen and to you both. I should like to read Karen's book very much.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love that you were completely consumed by the book and, because I trust your judgment, I will immediately go out and buy it right now. I won't put my name in for the giveaway since I think I won your last giveaway for the book "Mothers of Intention" and think someone else ought to have a chance ;-).

    Kinship, community, fellowship. That's what it's all about. So pleased you found some with Karen. I hope her book finds those who need it most and benefits many.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I found your blog, I believe, through Karen's blog, and I have been checking in with both of you daily for about five months. I like you guys - down to earth, optimistic, gracious, passionate about your children. Please know that you and Karen inspire others with every post you write. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I would just like to thank Karen for sharing this journey with us, and allowing her family's story to encourage, inspire and comfort others. Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  13. The personal courage and stamina required to write a memoir like this never ceases to amaze me. Writing requires re-living the details, and yes, there may be some peace in that, but I suspect that the resolution and the heartbreak are not equal in measure. A good memoir is a lifeline. A chance for a reader who needs solace or guidance or information to connect with a story that may, quite literally, save them.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'd love to read this book and possibly have it as a read for one of my book groups. I see it's not available on the Kindle so hope it will be soon if I don't win it here.

    I am always inspired and amazed at the power of human love, especially that of parents for children.

    Thank you for this book in advance, whether I win it or buy it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I always told people, who were frightened to visit us on our oncology floor, by not coming, you have quite possibly missed one of the greatest gifts of your life. Children bearing the unimaginable and doing with the most amazing grace and forgiveness. The floor held the deepest of sorrows but unparelled beauty as well.

    Karen has so unselfishly chosen to share the most intimate details of one of the most private and personal experiences of a parents life: the living and the leaving from this world,of ones child. I find that remarkably unselfish, not to mention courageous.

    I am going to buy her book on my Kindle, no need to add me to the drawing, just wanted to leave a message thanking you for sharing her story and to Karen for sharing Katies beautiful life with us all.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I should note that the book will be available on Kindle as soon as the good folks at createspace finish converting the files. Thank you for all of these kind and encouraging comments!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I ordered a copy a few days ago and can't wait for it to arrive! Don't enter me in the giveaway -- I just wanted to thank you for this post and share my enthusiasm for what I know will be a wonderful book.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have been deeply inspired by Katie's story and Karen's blog for several years. Our family just lost our beautiful Taylor in October after a 4 1/2 year battle with Brain Cancer...what these catestrophic illnesses do to families is just heartbreaking, but it is patients like Katie and Taylor and families like Karen's and mine that give meaning to these horrible dramas! I would love a copy of the book and truly look forward to reading it! All the BEST and Deepest Love and appreciation for revealing so much to the world and helping them understand! We are forever changed!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Would love to read the book as a pediatric health care person and a mom...Looking forward to hearing what the system did right , and will be unsurprised at what it did wrong. Will pick it up on amazon as my son stole my kindle.. no need to enter me in the drawing as I can't wait to read a book that will be compelling enough to read in one day! Exactly what I need, thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
  20. [I don't know if I can read it. I lost my first and, though healthy now, the shadow of pneumonia & leukemia always chase my daughter.]

    But I trust you and I have plenty of kleenex to use while reading. Visiting the dark corners of reality, my past, & my over-active imagination is healthy. Right?

    ReplyDelete
  21. I found your blog through a comment you left on in jennie's kitchen. I haven't been to Karen's blog but will be going there tomorrow. I would love to win a copy of this book. i live in Canada but can provide a US address if necessary. I was drawn to your blog because I have a developmentally disabled 15 year old daughter who is the youngest of my 5 kids.

    ReplyDelete
  22. So bummed to have missed this giveaway.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...