Following is the full text of historian Kate Bowler’s talk titled “Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved” at TED Talk conference.
There is some medical news that nobody — absolutely nobody — is prepared to hear. I certainly wasn’t.
It was three years ago that I got a call in my office with the test results of a recent scan. I was 35 and finally living the life I wanted.
I married my high school sweetheart and had finally gotten pregnant after years of infertility. And then suddenly we had a Zach, a perfect one-year-old boy/dinosaur, depending on his mood. And having a Zach suited me perfectly.
I had gotten the first job I applied for in academia, land of a thousand crushed dreams. And there I was, working at my dream job with my little baby and the man I had imported from Canada.
But a few months before, I’d started feeling pain in my stomach and had gone to every expert to find out why. No one could tell me.
And then, out of the blue, some physician’s assistant called me at work to tell me that I had stage IV cancer, and that I was going to need to come to the hospital right away.
And all I could think of to say was, “But I have a son. I can’t end. This world can’t end. It has just begun.”
And then I called my husband, and he rushed to find me and I said all the true things that I have known. I said, “I have loved you forever, I have loved you forever. I am so sorry. Please take care of our son.”