Campus News

Bethel dean battles cancer

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Kathy Gribbin, dean of students and residentiall life at Bethel College, has recently been faced with some new challenges. This past November, Gribbin’s mother passed away after a year-long battle of failing health following a stroke. Only days later, Gribbin began seeking medical attention when she noticed an expanding lump in her abdomen. In the following days, she endured multiple tests, including a CAT scan and a colonoscopy. The doctors discovered fluid in her lungs, which required immediate draining. After being referred to an urologist and an oncologist, Gribbin was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. Even after all that she had recently endured while dealing with this news, Gribbin remained very positive and optimistic. “I know difficult times await me, but my faith in God is strong,” explains Gribbin. “God is going before me and is preparing me. I can learn a lot during this time.” After her diagnosis, Gribbin was immediately scheduled for surgery on Dec. 15, when the doctors removed two cysts, one the size of a grapefruit and one the size of a football. Along with the cysts, they removed eight liters of fluid and completed the operation with a hysterectomy. Gribbin spent five days on the oncology floor of Memorial Hospital and was discharged on Dec. 20. “A PCA (patient care assistant) told me they were going to miss Kathy,” said Gribbin’s sister-in-law. “She said that, on the oncology floor, the patients are usually not as ‘spunky’ as Kathy.” When Gribbin’s staples were removed, the doctors gave her a positive outlook, explaining that she would be able to walk outside in as little as six weeks. They also told Gribbin that her best treatment option was chemotherapy, treatment that would occur every 21 days. Gribbin received her first of eight chemo treatments on Jan. 8, lasting four and a half hours, and is scheduled for her second on Jan. 29. Doctors expect the remainder of the fluid to dissipate, which will then reveal if the treatment is being effective. If these results are positive, there is an 80 percent chance that Gribbin will enter a remission stage. Gribbin shares that, upon the completion of the treatments in June, she will “throw a party with every group of friends possible to celebrate.” Through the strength of her faith and optimism, Gribbin has found that much good can result from such trials. She is incredibly thankful for all the people who have shown her support and have personally encouraged and prayed for her, including Bethel faculty members, staff, administrators and many more. Priceless opportunities to reconnect with family and friends have also presented themselves. “One really neat thing I experienced,” declares Gribbin, “was reconnecting with many girls who I served as a resident director to when I first came to Bethel in 1994.” However, Gribbin explains that there were also some who were apprehensive to visit her, not knowing how to act around someone with cancer. “I wanted to show them that I am still me,” explains Gribbin. “Cancer will not define me … it’s just now a part of me.” Throughout the past couple months, Gribbin’s faith in her Lord and Savior has not been shaken. “I don’t ask, ‘Why me, God?’ Instead, I ask, ‘Why not me? This was all God’s timing. He knew I could not handle both (my mother’s death and cancer) at the same time. Even though it has been rough, I do not doubt God. He is there, and He is faithful.” To follow Kathy’s journey, visit her website: www.caringbridge.org/visit/kathygribbin.
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