My Introduction to Bernie

From your parents you learn love and laughter and how to put one foot before the other. But when books are opened you discover that you have wings.

–Helen Hayes

In 1989, my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer. He was 64 years old and I was 24. As the youngest of three daughters, I arrived at an interesting age of my father’s life—I was nearly forty. I think I kept him young.

After Dad’s diagnosis, my boyfriend gave me a copy of Bernie’s book, Love, Medicine, and Miracles, probably because he felt it was a way he could help. But he helped me more than that. He listened to me cry into the phone when I was so upset that words would not form. He took me out for dinner after a daily run, and he took me to visit with Dad in the hospital. Odd as it seems, we never talked about the book.

In fact, my father never read the book, but I did. You see, I had undergone exploratory surgery for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when I was a sophomore in college. No tumor was found, but I was kept under ‘cancer watch’ for nearly three years. I always felt strange when I went to the oncologist because I looked so healthy in comparison to the others.

My father died at 66, living almost a year longer than predicted. He told everyone that “we kept him alive,” with our love and support. I kept my Bernie book and actually heard him lecture to a packed house in Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown, Ohio, my hometown, some months after Dad died.

At age 44, I was diagnosed with Stage 1-b cervical cancer and once again turned to my Bernie book. I was told by my doctor that “not everyone has your positive attitude” when being told of their fate. I informed him, as I had my doctor at age 19, that I had no intention of dying. In fact, after being cautioned that the required radical hysterectomy was a “bloody surgery,” I was told that I actually bled very little, and the nurses were shocked that I used very little morphine. I simply didn’t hurt that bad.

Bernie’s book, which I have shared with many other open-minded beings throughout my encounters, continues to be something I turn to before a check-up just to calm down and remind myself that I’m in control and it’s all going to be okay.

Thank you, Bernie, for writing the book.


Dear Karen,

Yours is a wonderful story about how to tap into our inner strength as life unfolds in its unpredictable way. The energy you have, and your love of living, comes right off the page. I think it is great when one of my readers can inspire others with personal experience. I’m sure you have done a lot of good work supporting others who benefited from your recommendation of Love, Medicine, and Miracles. Thank you, Karen.