Human Trafficking Awareness

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 | 7–8:30PM
First Church of the Nazarene (2734 S. Washington St., Kokomo, IN)

Hope Center in Indianapolis is a residential campus for women survivors of sex trafficking.  The nonprofit’s mission is “to transform the lives of women exiting sex trafficking by providing a Christ-centered approach to healing, self-sufficiency, and reintegration into the community.” For more information, see hopecenterindy.org.

Pastor Hubert Nolen, the Executive Director of the Hope Center, and other leaders will share about the lives God is changing through the Hope Center.

Please pre-register by calling the First Church of the Nazarene office at (765) 453-7078.

A love offering will be collected for the Hope Center.

Hubert Nolen is a Co-Founder of Hope Center Indy and serves as the Executive Director and a Board Member. He is the former Senior Pastor of Brookville Road Community Church in New Palestine, IN, and pastored there for 33 years. Under Pastor Hubert’s leadership, the congregation grew to more than 1,000 members with an annual operating budget of $1.1 million, which has provided millions to world missions and church planting. Pastor Hubert was instrumental in establishing more than 70 churches globally including in India and Brazil. He earned his B.A. in Bible and Pastoral Ministry from Barclay College and completed graduate studies at Asbury Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Seminary.

In 2015, he took notice of a promotion video featuring a young woman on the verge of taking her own life because of heartache she had lived through from a violent past. Subsequently, she found hope when she discovered an organization where she was given a second chance. Pastor Nolen felt prompted in that instant to launch a center where victims of human trafficking from coast to coast and all walks of life could find a place to heal and recover from the effects of human trafficking. He and his wife, Tonia, have been married 40+ years. They have five children, seven grandchildren, and live on the family farm in Shelbyville, IN.

The Hope Center

In 2018 alone, 85,613 human trafficking victims were identified worldwide.

“This is an urgent humanitarian issue. My Administration is committed to leveraging every resource we have to confront this threat, to support the victims and survivors, and to hold traffickers accountable for their heinous crimes.”

President Donald J. Trump, 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report

Enough

By Social Club Misfits | Lyrics from Songtexte.co

This Friday, celebrate the fact that Jesus is enough…

I was born to walk through the fire
I was made to run through these flames
Yeah, even when I’m broken and tired
You are enough, enough, enough

And I know you’ve been feeling like nobody cares
Looking for love everywhere, but nobody’s there
Your secrets are hidden and buried deep inside
You try not to show it, but all I see is pride
All I see is fear, that’s not welcome here
Fight hard, persevere, slowed down, switch your gears
Focus, make this the year
Yeah, you’re hopeless, give Him your tears
And I remember going through the same thing
All that weight on my shoulders tried to break me
Father stretch Your hand down from heaven, please save me
I’m holding to the promises that You gave me, You made me

I was born to walk through the fire
I was made to run through these flames
Yeah, even when I’m broken and tired
You are enough, enough, enough

Yes, You are
Yeah, lately my prayers sound more like complaints
I’m trying to fight insecurity while balancing faith
Nobody ever changed the world by playing it safe
When you’re afraid is the only time that a man can be brave
So, don’t tell me God is silent when your Bible is closed
I know that I’m far from perfect, but I wanna be close
Even on this broken road I know that God’s in control
I’m not where I wanna be, but I’m not where I was
Yeah, so I don’t wanna over complicate it
Your love doesn’t change, it made me who I am yeah
And even when I don’t think I can make it
Your grace surrounds me, I’ma sing it ’till the end yeah

I could give up, I could just hide
But You walk with me through all of my fires
You do, yeah, You do
I could give up, I could just hide
But You walk with me through all of my fires
You do, yeah, You do

I was born to walk through the fire
I was made to run through these flames
Yeah, even when I’m broken and tired
You are enough, enough, enough
I was born to walk through the fire
I was made to run through these flames
Yeah, even when I’m broken and tired
You are enough, enough, enough
You are enough, enough, enough

Ashley Bratcher on What Pro-Life Means to Her

By Catherine Yang
Originally published and updated September 11, 2019 in the Epoch Times

Actress Ashley Bratcher had no idea who Abby Johnson was. The role came to her in a completely unorthodox way.

One day, Bratcher received a comment from an Instagram stranger who told her she would be perfect for this part.

“She said, ‘Ashley, I have been praying for you for about this year, and God is telling me that you’re meant to play this role.’” 

Bratcher thanked her, and then ignored it, because it sounded crazy.

“It was the strangest thing,” Bratcher said.

But a while later, the commenter came back around, and told Bratcher she was really meant for this role, and if she could just please take a look.

She relented, and agreed to look at a few pages of the script.

Abby Johnson was funny, witty, and charismatic. From the pages Bratcher had, she had no idea it was the story of a woman who was responsible for 22,000 abortions, and who would do a complete 180 on her position.

Bratcher auditioned for the part.

“I learned that she was a real person, and after the audition, I thought that the character was really cool,” Bratcher said. “So I wanted to look her up and see what she was like in real life.”

“And it was then I heard her testimony for the first time, about what she saw, and what happens during the abortion procedure,” Bratcher said. It hit her, emotionally and spiritually. “I was absolutely floored.”

Ashley Bratcher in “Unplanned.” (Unplanned Movie)

“I knew that this was something that I wanted to be part of, and I wanted to make sure the world heard the story,” Bratcher said. “From that point on, I was really all in, and ready to just take on the role.”

Unplanned

Abby Johnson is a former Planned Parenthood clinic director; she’d worked for the organization for eight years and in that time rose to employee of the year. Later that year, in 2009, Johnson quit.

Not only did she quit, but she turned to a pro-life organization because they were the only people who understood. And then she spoke out about what she had seen, shocking millions with the truth of abortion.

Johnson had been with the organization, recommending abortions to women, for eight years before she had ever seen the abortion procedure take place via ultrasound, because Planned Parenthood didn’t do it that way. It was only when she was asked to assist an outside doctor with a procedure that she saw it take place—and learned it was common that the baby, still a fetus, would jump away from the abortion instruments, before being dismembered and suctioned out.

It turned her worldview upside-down, and was the final nail in the coffin. In press conferences and talks around the country, she exposed Planned Parenthood as an abortion-driven business, aiming to increase their sales, rather than a health provider as it claimed to be. She’s written her story down in the memoir “Unplanned,” and the film “Unplanned” came out earlier this year.

Abby Johnson. (Abby Johnson)

Today she also runs the ministry And Then There Were None, which supports abortion workers who want to transition to other careers.

Johnson and Bratcher didn’t meet until halfway through production, but they talked on the phone and texted constantly and became fast friends.

It was an intense seven weeks of filming.

“I was cast and I had a four-hour notice to get on a plane,” Bratcher said. She had a hundred pages of lines and appeared in nearly every scene of the movie, and she dove right in.

Ashley Bratcher in “Unplanned.” (Unplanned Movie)

Before “Unplanned” Bratcher’s stance on abortion was a common one in the current cultural climate. She personally didn’t want to get an abortion, but didn’t want to stand in the way of women who felt they needed one.

“I wasn’t really familiar with the pro-life movement,” Bratcher said. But in the few days she had to prepare for the role, she was researching non-stop. She watched all sorts of videos and talks, and heard Johnson’s story for the first time, reducing Bratcher to tears.

“It was a lot,” Bratcher said. “It was probably the biggest undertaking I’ve ever had as an actor.”

In the film “Unplanned,” actress Ashley Bratcher plays Abby Johnson, a clinic director at a Planned Parenthood located next door to a religious pro-life charity named 40 Days for Life. Johnson’s encounters with the organization’s prayer group members ends up changing her life. (Courtesy of Unplanned)

The “Unplanned” story put a face on the victim. “Knowing that and seeing that in my research just really blew my mind—to think that I’m my age and I had never known what really happened,” she said.

Another twist in Bratcher’s own story occurred while filming was underway. It was on set when she learned that she was almost aborted herself.

Bratcher had already known her mother had an abortion at age 16, and wanted to share this story she was working on as it was about mercy and forgiveness. But as she was describing the story, her mother broke down in tears, and told Bratcher that when she was 19, and pregnant with Bratcher, she had decided to get an abortion. She was on the clinic table before she had this gut feeling she couldn’t go through with it, last minute, and left.

Bratcher told Fox & Friends she later confirmed the story with her father, who told her that they didn’t think they could afford a child, and couldn’t even afford the abortion. To pay for the abortion, he had pawned a family shotgun—that was the price of her life.

Bratcher is often asked whether she was worried the film would negatively impact her career. Twitter had suspended the film’s Twitter account and revoked its ads, and a number of television networks refused to run its advertisements. The filmmakers have protested the R rating given to the film, which prevents minors from seeing it. But Bratcher says she is fearless, because she knows where she stands.

Despite efforts to limit the distribution of the film, “Unplanned” hit No. 1 in DVD sales on Amazon and received rave audience reviews.

Selfless Love

Bratcher got into acting almost by accident. In her last year at college, she needed to take an elective and chose an acting class on a whim, since she had fun in theater classes in high school.

“It kind of ignited that fire inside of me,” Bratcher said. On stage, she had escaped. She wasn’t Ashley Bratcher, whose mortgage was due and had to go grocery shopping later. She got to tell someone’s story.

Then, out on a date with her high school sweetheart—now husband—at the North Carolina State Fair, she saw a big booth with a sign: “Do you want to be an actor?”

Bratcher signed up, and auditioned for a local commercial—and got the part. From there an agent took her to New York, where she auditioned for a hundred managers and agents, and received over 20 offers.

“It just made me realize, ‘Oh, wow, I can actually do this,’” Bratcher said.

But at the time, it was driven by a desire for fame, and Bratcher, who is competitive by nature to begin with, said she had more or less been living with a selfish mindset. Life was about what she wanted, and what she could get out of it. She moved to New York and lived an emotionally and spiritually exhausted life battling rejection. One acting workshop planted some positive seeds, when she was tasked to write a letter to herself.

She had to write down why she decided to become an actor, and what it meant to her, and what sort of impact she wanted to have with her career.

“That was the first time where I said, ‘I do have a serious, legitimate reason for wanting to be a part of this,” Bratcher said. “From that moment on, I always took that letter to heart.”

“In the last couple of years … I have been able to be a part of stories that I feel give people a sense of hope,” Bratcher said. “I wanted to be part of telling really good stories that did something good for people on the inside.”

Much of this is rooted in Bratcher’s faith, which hadn’t been a big part of her life until she became a mother herself.

“I had my own unplanned pregnancy,” Bratcher said. She had just started acting, with few results, and her husband had graduated college and had a job, but neither really had a career.

“I had to be on government assistance. I had Medicaid, I used WIC; we just couldn’t afford it,” Bratcher said. “But at the same time, we were figuring out ways to solve that problem. And I totally believe in government assistance when it picks people up and gets them on their feet. I think when it’s used appropriately, it empowers people to get back up and do what they need.”

Bratcher needed it for a little over a year, and it helped put her on the right track.

“Having my son, first and foremost, deepened by faith. I looked at this tiny little person, and I just could see nothing but the love of God,” Bratcher said. “I couldn’t imagine loving him so much. And it just clicked with me that if I love him so much, how much more God must love me to be able to hold this little baby in my arms and feel this incredible amount of love.”

It changed her whole outlook on life.

“The most important thing I learned from my son was what it meant to love selflessly—because I had been so selfish in the past,” Bratcher said. At the root of all her choices was pleasing herself; other people weren’t even a consideration. But the moment she understood selfless love, she realized what a shallow life she had been living.

“I had experienced a love that I feel like we’re on this planet to experience. I had felt, for the first time, this very pure and selfless love,” Bratcher said.

“That was a huge spiritual awakening for me,” she said. “After I had him, and I got back into the film industry, I had this sense of faith and identity.”

“I wasn’t looking to anyone for validation, I didn’t need to book a role to feel like I was going to be successful, I didn’t need anyone’s approval to know what my worth was,” she said. “It is critical for me to make sure that I am digging into my faith.”

Bratcher initially never wanted children, didn’t want to be responsible for another life and forego all the travels and experiences and the career she dreamed of. Now she has all of those things, and her son as well.

Bratcher attends the Save the Storks 2nd Annual Charity Ball at the Trump International Hotel on Jan. 17 in Washington. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Save the Storks)

And “Unplanned,” far from ending her career, has opened up avenues for Bratcher to help make a positive impact. She’s done two TV shows and is the lead in a romantic comedy where the proceeds of the film will go towards charity. She recently partnered with Heartbeat International to launch the Unplanned Movie Scholarship to help moms with unplanned pregnancies with educational scholarships.

“A lot of times women choose to have abortions because they don’t have the support that they need or want or desire,” Bratcher said. “They’re told if they have kids they can’t be successful, they can’t finish school, all of these things.”

She wanted to provide an option to solve the problem, such as the scholarship fund that would give mothers financial means to finish their education, and partner with an organization with resources and expertise. Heartbeat International has 3,000 pregnancy health centers and provides everything from parenting classes to formula and childcare.

“I wanted to make sure that I was using my voice in a way that was loud enough to say ‘yes, you can’, and actually do something about it,” Bratcher said.

Life Chain 2019

Sunday, October 6, 2019 | 2:30-3:30 PM
Pick up signs at First Baptist Church (at the intersection of Taylor St. & Washington St.)

Stand with thousands of pro-life individuals throughout the USA and Canada in honor of millions of babies whose lives have been lost to abortion. Pray for people in crisis situations and for our nations. You’ll be a light in a darkened world as you help put an end to abortion through prayer!

  • Signs will be available for pick-up at 2:00 PM at First Baptist Church of Kokomo at the northwest corner of Taylor St. and Washington St.
  • The event begins at 2:30 and ends at 3:30 PM.
  • We will be forming a cross by lining up on the North/South Street Washington Blvd. between Markland & North Streets and the East/West street Jefferson Ave., between Indiana Ave. & Apperson Way.
  • This year we are inviting church leaders as well as individuals to go to our Facebook page and choose a spot on the cross to stand. Tell us the location you have chosen. We are praying that this will be the year that the city of Kokomo will see the longest LIFE CHAIN ever!
  • We will stand with our pro-life signs while we pray silently for our country, our leaders, those who drive by, for women and men who have or will in the future be making a “life decision” and for the pro-life cause.
  • After 3:30PM, please return the signs to the person at First Baptist Church (at Taylor St. & Washington St.), or to Bible Baptist Church, 2635 S. Dixon Road.
  • If you have any questions, please call (765) 210-9367.
  • We hope you will establish a sign-up sheet for your parishioners as well as frequently giving out reminders to friends, family members and neighbors to further encourage their involvement in this very important national event. Each year we are encouraged by the increasing number of motorists and pedestrians who honk or show a thumbs up in solidarity with our message. This is a chance for the church of Christ to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Will you stand with us?

To learn more, visit Howard County Right to Life on Facebook or email howardcortl@gmail.com. You can select a designated spot to stand by viewing the cross in our Facebook post.  Just select the spot you want for your church/organization/business and reply with a comment telling us your choice. We will post your group on our Facebook page within 24 hours.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call.

Barbara
Life Chain Coordinator
(765) 210-9367

or

Melanie
HCRTL Marketing
(765) 455-8665   

Unashamed 2019

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” — The Apostle Paul, Romans 1:16

Friday & Saturday, November 15–16, 2019
Landmark Church
1600 Glendale-Milford Dr., Cincinnati, OH

Join Christians from many different walks of life sharing the reason for their hope in Jesus Christ–the promised Messiah who lives in the hearts of those who receive Him as their Savior and Lord.

Speakers

Registration is $39.95. To register, visit Truth for a New Generation or call (877) YES-GOD1.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Apostle Paul, Romans 8:38-39

GOP Senators Introduce Fetal Burial Law after Discovery of 2,246 Abortion Remains in Ulrich Klopfer Garage

By Kimberly Leonard | Originally published September 27, 2019, 09:03 AM in the Washington Examiner

Republican senators have introduced a bill to mandate the burial or cremation of fetal tissue after an abortion in response to the discovery of 2,246 fetal remains in the garage of a deceased abortion doctor.

The bill, the Dignity for Aborted Children Act, is similar to a measure signed into law in Indiana by Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor, which became enforceable this month. The Supreme Court upheld the law this year, though it hasn’t ruled on its merits.

The bill is in response to the news about Dr. Ulrich “George” Klopfer, who was a hoarder and stashed away 20-year-old fetal remains. The remains were discovered this month in medically sealed bags placed into cardboard boxes at his Illinois home. Klopfer provided abortions in Indiana for decades butlost his medical license roughly three years before his death on Sept. 3.

Under the Senate legislation, abortion providers would be required to arrange for the burial or cremation of the remains or otherwise face a fine and up to five years in prison. The woman who has the abortion would be given a consent form that would allow her to choose to retain the tissue or to let the abortion clinic handle it.

The bill was co-sponsored by Sens. Mike Braun of Indiana, Todd Young of Indiana, Steve Daines of Montana, John Cornyn of Texas, Rick Scott of Florida, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. They are seeking to add more co-sponsors. Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana is looking at introducing a similar measure on the House side.

“The discovery of thousands of fetal remains in an Indiana abortionist’s home horrified every American who respects the sanctity of life, and highlighted a disturbing trend that Indiana has taken the lead in rectifying,” Braun said in a statement, calling the discovery in Klopfer’s home “grotesque collections.”

The Washington Examiner interviewed Braun at his office Tuesday, and at the time, he said he wasn’t sure how a fetal burial law, or any anti-abortion legislation, could pass Congress given that lawmakers had recently rejected other restrictions on abortion. He said he supported burial laws but didn’t state any intention to introduce a bill, though he said states should move ahead on restrictions and that the Supreme Court would need to take up abortion rights again.

“If we really wanted to get somewhere, the leadership and guidance needs to come from the Supreme Court,” he said.

The Senate, with mostly Democrats opposing, rejected a bill in 2018 that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks and another bill in February clarifying that babies who survive attempted abortions must receive medical care.

After an abortion, providers treat fetal tissue as medical waste to be incinerated, flushed into the sewage system, or discarded in a landfill. Some states want to change that, but few have been successful. A federal judge stuck down a fetal burial law in Texas last year, and an appeal is currently being weighed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Ohio’s state Senate also advanced a fetal burial law in March.

Ernst said that the discovery at Klopfer’s home “serves as a stark reminder that we must protect and defend life.”

“We cannot be a society that tolerates actions like Dr. Klopfer’s, and this bill will ensure the remains of all human beings, in every stage of life, get the dignity and respect they deserve,” she said.

Abortion rights advocates have fought burial and cremation laws in court, arguing that they heap more work on providers, who have to arrange for the services. That makes abortions more expensive, they say, putting the procedure out of reach for low-income patients. They also argue that the laws don’t take the patient’s moral or religious beliefs into consideration and that they would affect women who miscarry, often without knowing it because the symptoms mimic a heavy period.

Build a Home with Habitat for Humanity!

Building a Legacy

You can make a difference in someone’s life. With every volunteer, someone gets closer to having somewhere to call home. Whether you have never picked up a hammer before or you’ve built many houses, we would love to have you spend a Saturday with us! 

Our current build is taking place at 1404 Belvedere St., Kokomo, IN, 46902. We typically start building around 8:30 AM and end by 4:30 PM. Lunch is provided through our wonderful donors in Howard County.

We encourage potential volunteers to please sign-up online (via the link below). This helps us to have an idea of how many to expect for lunch and also for the type of work we might try to get done on a given work day. 
Click here to access the sign-up for the house build at 1404 Belvedere.

For more information, see habitatkokomo.com.

Tired of Renting?

Mortgage payments are often less than current rent. The next Habitat for Humanity Information Meetings will be: 

  • 10AM12PM | Saturday, September 14
  • 6PM8PM | Wednesday, September 18

Both meetings will be held in the Basement Conference Room at the Kokomo Public Library (220 N. Union St., Kokomo).

This is for people interested in becoming homeowners. This is the first step in becoming a part of the Habitat Homeownership Program.   

The essential criteria for becoming a Habitat Partner Family include:

  • Need for adequate shelter
  • Ability to pay for the Habitat home
  • Willingness to partner and participate with building your home  
  • We are looking for low-income working families with a gross monthly income of at least $1,400 per month. (Detailed income charts can be found at habitatkokomo.com.)

Some of the benefits of partnering with Habitat for Humanity include:

  • Cost of home below appraised value
  • Input into home design and interior choices
  • Support/advocacy program

Applications will be handed out at the meeting. No RSVP needed. For more information call Katie at (765) 452-2185. 

Welcome to Narrow Gate Horse Ranch

By Jessica Rolph
Reprinted from a March 19, 2019 article from First Farmer’s Bank and Trust.

The first things you notice when you get to Narrow Gate Ranch are horses. The large barn is surrounded by gently rolling acres. The horses graze in small groups, some galloping a few yards as the mood takes them, most still and watchful. It’s not far from downtown Kokomo, but the flowing land and calm presence of the horses leaves you feeling far from anything you’d find in the city. It’s a peaceful scene, and one that Susan Zody appreciates.

For the past few years, Susan has been running the Narrow Gate Horse Ranch. Susan wasn’t familiar with horses when she started on this journey. She had been searching for a way to get the kids to continue coming and engaging with a youth outreach program where she volunteered, and remembered an article she’d read about a therapy horse ranch. After raising the funds through donations and researching therapy ranches, Susan was able to take a group to a nearby facility. The funds continued to roll in, and Susan started seeing the impact the visits were making on some of the kids in the program. Grades improved. Behavior improved. The kids started making better decisions. She was impressed, and committed to continue providing this to the children.

“They come here really, to build a relationship with a horse,” says Susan about the draw for the youth she works with at the ranch. These young people have sometimes suffered abuse and neglect, and an adult seeking to mentor these individuals will often face an uphill battle. But a horse, patient and calm and not demanding, can bridge that divide.

As donations continued to come in, Susan had to ask herself if there was more that she could do. Was it just the small group of children that she currently worked with that were meant to benefit? Could something else be done? It was a crossroads for Susan. She knew the need was greater than what could be met by visiting a horse ranch an hour way. She could see the improvements, but her kids, and the kids she knew needed connection in the community, would benefit from a slightly different approach. One that focused on building relationships and making better decisions, and ultimately, one that had its foundation in faith.

This was where Susan found herself in 2016 when she invited a group of people from the community to a discussion. Would the community support an organization like what she envisioned? Were the resources there to make it successful? Her plans were met with enthusiasm and support, and a board was formed. In a short three years, Narrow Gate Horse Ranch has been established and has weekly classes.

Narrow Gate’s target audience is at-risk youth in the community. In Howard County, Indiana alone, over 4,000 children live at or below the poverty level. At the Ranch, these children are able to grow their confidence, leadership skills, and communication skills.

“I want these kids to gain some confidence and to know that if they do things correctly, there will be a good ending.”

Scott MacDonald

When we visited Susan at the ranch, we also met Scott MacDonald, the equine specialist at the Ranch, and Kelsey and Autumn, two sisters who volunteer. Together, Susan and Scott shared stories that more often than not brought tears to the eyes of both speaker and listeners. The horses at Narrow Gate have faced their own challenges, much like the youth that works with them. The kids relate to the horses. They see their own struggles, and they work together to overcome challenges. It’s a rewarding experience for everyone involved, and one the team at Narrow Gate never tires of.

It was an honor to meet with Susan and Scott at Narrow Gate Horse Ranch, to be introduced to the horses, and to meet some of the youth benefitting from this wonderful operation.

The Old, Old Story

Listen up–it’s the old, old story.
Christ in me, my hope of glory.
He came to die, His life to give,
To abide in us so we could live
Not just breathe, then speak, then die,
But so we could live with Him on high.
Christ inside is the key.
It’s the hope for you and the hope for me.

By Margarett Inez Bates

Christian philosopher, Bible teacher, author, and prolific poet, Margarett Inez Bates is a graduate of Mount Vernon Bible College with a Bachelor’s degree from the Christian International School of Theology. Actively involved in Christian service for over forty years she currently resides in her hometown, Kokomo, Indiana. Margarett has published two books: Poetical Insights: Lifting Up a Standard, and Poetical Insights Vol. 2: A Closer Look. You can read more of her work at Kokomo Poet.

Choosing Life When Faced with Death

Nancy Gibson is living out her life without chemotherapy after being diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer; surpasses prognosis on July 1.

By Alyx Arnett
Reprinted from the June 24, 2019 issue of The Kokomo Perspective.

When a local woman was faced with death after being diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, she chose life. And she did it while opting to go the less-traditional route by forgoing chemotherapy.

In January 2018, Nancy Gibson, 56, was diagnosed with the disease, and it didn’t come as a surprise. The symptoms had been there off and on for years, but she had been taking care of her husband who was sick with cancer and later died in 2015. The symptoms were there as early as 2013, but Gibson said she put her own health on the backburner.

“I’m self-induced colon-cancer, and there were signs along the way I didn’t pay attention to. I was taking care of my husband, and after he passed, you know, you just don’t take care of yourself,” said Gibson.

On Jan. 1 last year, Gibson woke up in the hospital with an ostomy bag after suffering a complete blockage. She had the bag for six weeks before she underwent surgery on Feb. 19, 2018, to reverse the ostomy and remove a foot-and-a-half of her colon. Doctors found two cancerous tumors in her liver and several in her lymph nodes, which classified her cancer as stage 4.

Gibson was told, with chemotherapy, she could live another two to four years. Without it, she could expect another 12 to 18 months.

Having watched her husband undergo chemotherapy for three years to treat melanoma, Gibson said she didn’t want that, never mind the fact that she didn’t have the income to pay for it anymore. She had quit her job as a superintendent at Haynes International to care for her husband years prior and wasn’t working a job that could pay for expensive treatments anymore.

Her husband’s chemotherapy cost $2,600 a month after insurance, she said, and it was hard on him. Most days, he was bedridden, and when he was able to get around, he tired quickly.

When it came time for Gibson to make a decision on whether to undergo chemotherapy, she decided against it.

“When it came time for me, I was like, ‘OK, number one, I don’t have that kind of money now, and number two, I’d rather take part of that money and travel and work out and do the things I love to do when it comes to life because the end game is the end game. You’re going to die.

“Everyone is going to die, so for me, it’s what goes on between here and there because I don’t like being sick. I don’t want to be sick for two for four years. What the heck. I’d rather be like this for 18 months than like that for two to four years,” she said.

Having an expiration date put on her life was eye-opening and forced her to figure out what really was important in life.

Prior to her husband’s diagnosis, work was what was important to her and striving for the next promotion and the next pay raise and more responsibility, like most people, Gibson said. All of that, she realized, wasn’t what life was about. When faced with death, she said she realized she wasn’t living to begin with.

“My cancer is the biggest blessing of my life, and I would not go back and have anything change if it meant that I couldn’t be who I am today.”

Nancy Gibson

“Our whole concept of life and death and what we think of life, to me, is really death. What do we do? We set an alarm. We go to work. We hate the day. We go home. We get up, and we do it all over again. We never really learn to live, and this has forced me to,” she said.

Since her diagnosis, she’s been to San Diego, Boston, Key West, and Chicago. And she’s taken up exercise again, something that once was important to her. Twice a week she works out with a trainer at the Kokomo Family YMCA and takes yoga classes. She also picked up a job that she always daydreamed about doing while working at Haynes: watering flowers in a greenhouse.

Her faith also has become increasingly important, as well as her focus on her health. As lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, are known risk factors for developing colon cancer, Gibson has been working to swing the pendulum back the other way after she said she let herself go. One of her late husband’s doctors, who happens to be her own cancer doctor now, had given him a book called “Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life” by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, and Gibson has been working to incorporate healthy foods into her diet. Since her diagnosis, she’s lost 70 pounds.

“Before my diagnosis, I drank too much. I ate too much. I had a high-stress, high-pressure job in the plant,” she said. “Unfortunately, I lost track of my health, and I ended up with cancer.”

A Milestone

On July 1, Gibson will hit the 18-month mark, the date she wasn’t predicted to make it past. And the past 18 months, she said, have been some of the best in her life.

“When I made the decision not to pursue chemo, I only had one other choice. That’s my faith, and that’s just trusting and knowing that there is something greater for us, a greater reason for us being here than what I knew going to work and having a job,” Gibson said. “Through this experience, this has been the biggest blessing of my life. My cancer is the biggest blessing of my life, and I would not go back and have anything change if it meant that I couldn’t be who I am today.”

She’s also been on the receiving end of some of the stigma attached to not having chemotherapy. A lot of people, she said, assume she’s giving up.

“What’s really important for anyone that’s out there is for them to know it’s their choice, and you can’t imagine the peer pressure when you say you’re not going to do treatment. People are like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re not going to fight,’” she said. “Well, I freaking fight every day.”

Gibson thanked her oncologist, Dr. John Salter at Community Howard Regional Health, for his support and not putting “undue pressure” on her. She said he’s given her great suggestions as far as ways to improve her health diet-wise.

Her hope, she said, is that she’s able to continue living her life as she is now for as long as possible and to remind people that no matter how bad their situation seems that there’s always hope.

“I just want everybody to have a good outlook no matter what your circumstances are. You can change your life by changing your thinking. We are in control of so much within ourselves,” she said. “We’re living in a time when there’s so much negativity everywhere that it’s hard to turn away from it, but when you do, man, look out because it’s beautiful.”

Gibson also wished to remind people not to get so caught up in the day-to-day aspects of life so much that they miss out on living it.

The Disease

Excluding skin cancers, colon cancer is the third-most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the U.S. and also the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

The death rate for the disease has been dropping for the past several decades, and part of that is attributed to the availability of screenings for early detection. The five-year survival rate for those with localized colon cancer in which there is no sign the cancer has spread is 90 percent. Those with distant colon cancer, such as Gibson, which has spread to other parts of the body, is 14 percent.

According to the American Cancer Society, people being diagnosed now may have a better outlook than those numbers show, as they’re based on people who were diagnosed and treated at least five years earlier, and the numbers also don’t take into account factors such as age, overall health, and how far the cancer has spread.

Lifestyle risk factors include being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, certain types of diets, smoking, heavy alcohol use, while other risk factors can’t be changed, such as age, family history, and personal history of inflammatory bowel disease.