Wednesday, 12 June, 2024

Why Do I Live and Others Die

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hi everyone!  Welcome to “Overcoming Challenges” with Michelle Kaiser. I am the author of a series of books about a real-life special needs calf named Special Ed. My children’s anti-bullying books are titled The Adventures of Special Ed and focus on inclusion, kindness, and acceptance. In the books Special Ed faces many challenges. Today I am going to talk about the challenge of having cancer and I am going to get personal, so hold on!

Cancer was prevalent in my family. I am the youngest and at age twelve watched my brother suffer through treatments for lung cancer. Back in the 60s, cancer was pretty much a death sentence, but he went into remission and lived another 14 years before the cancer came back with a vengeance and took his life.

Lawrence, my father suffered from many cancers and given only 6 months to live, lasted twelve more years thanks to alternative medicines, but then multiple myeloma stole him away. Mildred, my mother, survived breast cancer in her 80’s but at age 99 the cancer returned throughout her body, and she lost the battle. My sister Christine was given four months to live but died 6 weeks later of colon cancer.

I always knew that one day I would have cancer, too. Not because of my family history, but because God placed that on my heart. I am not an overly religious person, but God does speak to me at times. He has told me some strange things to do, and sometimes it is years before I understand why He asked me to do them. So, when He told me that I would have cancer, I knew it would eventually come true and on January 30, 2013, I received the diagnosis of breast cancer.

I admit that I cried a lot during that first year, but not because I was afraid of dying. God had also told me I would not die from this. I cried because of the unknown: would I suffer like my brother did? would I get sick a lot? I wondered if I would be able to function at all.  Would my body ever be the same? I had 6 months of chemotherapy (aptly nicknamed “The Red Devil”) before the doctors tried a lumpectomy. The margins were not good, so I had a right breast mastectomy with the removal of 18 lymph nodes in my right arm. Following surgery, I endured 3 more months of chemo (Taxol), then 7 weeks of radiation.

Now it is 10 years later, and I am declared “cancer-free.” What does that mean really?  Well, I can finally stop taking the tamoxifen tablets. I can finally eat soy products in moderation – I love Japanese steakhouses and Chinese take-out!

But am I “free” of cancer? No! It will have its claws in me. My hair will never be the same thick flowing mane it was before. My breasts will never be the same – one has an implant and is “perky” while my natural breast suffers from the force of gravity and old age. And my fake breast will always have the scars of radiation on it. My right arm will always be swollen with fluid from the missing lymph nodes. Thanks to the Taxol, I will always have neuropathy in my fingers and feet. The only plus I see in this whole picture is that I don’t have to shave my legs very often.

During my lifetime, I have watched many friends die from this disease – Barbara Sochowski, Nancy Jarvi, Anne Green, Neva Yates, and Reggie Pillans – and wonder why I am still here. On my website, I ponder that maybe I was spared in order to write about Special Ed and spread my anti-bullying message. I don’t know if that is true. I am still seeking the answer as to why I lived and they died – God hasn’t told me yet, and He might not ever tell me.

And so, I overcame the challenge of having cancer. Later, it might rear its ugly head again and this time God might tell me I’ll lose the battle. I hope I’m ready and that I have accomplished some things in my life that will impact people for the better.

Until then I will continue to write and spread the message. So please visit my website at to read more about the real Special Ed. While there, check out my resources for keeping kids safe. I am continually updating these resources thanks to input from other organizations who want to share tips about bullying.and cyberbullying.


Michelle Kaiser and her husband, Jim, live on a cattle ranch in Cross Plains, Texas. She travels to area schools and libraries to share the story of her real-life special needs calf named Special Ed and the antibullying message his life conveys in her writing. Michelle hopes to teach children kindness, empathy, and inclusion in her book series, The Adventures of Special Ed.

You can visit her website at to read more about the real Special Ed and check out her resources for parents and kids at


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