In 2014 with absolutely no symptoms, I went in for my 50-year-old preventative colonoscopy and was shocked when the results came back as stage 3-4 mantel cell lymphoma (MCL). I quickly spiraled into a nice depression while we scrambled to get a second opinion and discussed treatment options, which ranged from “wait and see” to “you are young; hit it with the big guns.”
A month later we agreed to go with the big guns: six monthly chemo treatments with increasing aggressiveness (three outpatient, then three inpatient) and the cherry on top—a month-long, inpatient auto stem cell transplant.
When I was going thought treatment, I prayed to God, “Thy will be done and show me where I can be of service.” I already worked in health care for my career and was on the board of a credit union that served the “financially underserved,” but I prayed for something specifically related to cancer and helping people. So, I kept my God-radar on high alert, in search for the right fit.
After all that treatment fun, the depression started to lift and I decided to attend my first Leukemia Lymphoma Society annual convention in Denver (my hometown). During the break, I walked the convention floor in search of survivor tips and, perhaps, some quality swag. I came upon a lime green booth with a big EPIC EXPERIENCE logo on it. I saw it had very enticing, cool water bottles, so naturally, I decided to go in. There, a very nice lady named Nancy greeted me and said, “Call me Mama Lou.” She shared her terrific story about Epic and told me that as a survivor, I had an opportunity to attend a week-long adventure camp in the Colorado Rockies with other adult survivors. Being a very smart, savvy guy, I said, yes please!! Duh!
And what I great time it was. I loved the beautiful ranch, fun nicknames, party bus, great food, fun activities, new friendships, and nightly campfires. I found that as the campfires burned, fears began to thaw and hearts opened to healing. My God-radar went off in full alert and said, “This is what you have prayed for.” Eureka! Epic was it!!
As the camp came to an end, I pulled Mama Lou aside and shared my newfound desire to help out somehow going forward. I told her I was a financial and data analyst by profession, and a spark hit us—she was looking for someone with that background to join the Epic Experience board of directors.
After returning, I completed the application paperwork, had several interviews, and was tickled pink when in 2016, the board actually said yes!!! So now, after almost a year on the board, I am thankful to God for helping me find Epic and am excited about my role helping with board analytics and brainstorming marketing and fundraising options.
As I go through life, I am constantly finding people whose lives have been touched by cancer and excitedly share the Epic story with them. My ultimate vision is to help Epic Experience expand with its own ranch, where funds and volunteers flow with ease, and most importantly, camper by camper, we help heal souls. Now that’s a pretty good thing to be part of. Come join us!
-Karl, aka “Moose”