Karen Tobias, a 53 year-old wife, mother, grandmother and registered nurse died on July 4, 2002 after a five-year battle with breast cancer.
During her five-year battle, the essence of Karen never faded away. Her fighting spirit, passion for life, family and concern for the well being of complete strangers never diminished. Karen Would Not Give Cancer an Inch. She spent her time providing hope and joy for all those around her. Her love was her family, especially her grandchildren, and she was blessed with three beautiful grandchildren during the last 2.5 years of her life. Even at the toughest of times, her smile, New York sense of humor and love of life was close to the surface.
The Ride for Karen is a way for Karen’s family and friends to keep her dream alive, to continue her mission of – Building Hope – one cancer patient, and family, at a time.
Below are letters written by Karen’s husband and son, shortly after her death, which describes her story in their own words.
A Letter For Karen From Her Husband Kal
My Dearest Karen:
More than 37 years ago I met and fell in love with a wonderful young woman who became my wife and bore two wonderful children. Times during these years had many forks in the road where we jointly made decisions which would lead us through a love filled life surrounded by family and friends. You single handedly raised our sons as my business travel was great and my time at home was limited. You did an incredible job with both of them. They are our love and life as are their lovely and compassionate wives and now our three grand children.
We developed, you and I, a relationship that was extraordinary. We were husband and wife but more important we were lovers and truly best friends. We were always Kal and Karen. We were always like one. We blended together perfectly.
Four and one-half years ago we began a journey in a new area. You developed an autoimmune disease, and we don’t know why, and you battled many consecutive medical issues. I was with you through all of the times and tried to support you as I could and only cared that you were as happy and comfortable as you could be. During this time Kris and Sue gave us Isabel and Johan. What a joy for us. What a blessing. You loved them like I have not seen anyone love to that extent. You were a wonderful, caring and compassionate grandmother as you were as a person in your overall life. But the sparkle was always there. Then six months ago Kirk and Paula further blessed us with Liberty. There is no way to describe the love and interaction with her. The times we spent together were joyous. They formed a new adventure in our lives.
You battled fearlessly. You have courage. You have a sense and aura that always was positive. You stared Cancer in the face and would not give one inch. You continued your passion for life, your determination to provide for others. You are my hero!!
Darling Karen….You will always be in my mind, heart and thoughts. You are my life and love and will always be. I will be here for you forever for eternity.
I love you……….Kal
A Poem And Letter For Karen From Her Son Kirk
Cancer is so limited-
It can not cripple love
It can not shatter hope
It can not corrode faith
It can not destroy peace
It can not kill friendship
It can not suppress memories
It can not silence courage
It can not invade the soul
It can not steal eternal life
It can not conquer the spirit.
Our greatest enemy is not the disease, but despair.
Cancer may rob us of that blissful ignorance that once led us to believe that tomorrow stretched forever.
In exchange we are granted the vision to see each day, today, as a precious gift to be used wisely and richly.
Karen epitomized this poem. She knew that her Cancer had to affect her physically, however, she never let it affect her emotionally. The essence of Karen never faded and as my father stated, Karen Would Not Give Cancer an Inch. Her strength and passion for life was legendary. She spent her time providing hope and joy for all those around her. Her love was her family, especially her grandchildren, and she was blessed with three beautiful bundles of joy during the last 2.5 years. Even at the toughest of times, her smile, New York sense of humor and love of life was close to the surface.
The last 18 months were a roller coaster ride, with lots of ups and downs; however, we packed a lot of “living” into those months and experienced a lot of joy. Countless shopping trips, outings to good restaurants and quiet dinners at home led us all to feel like normal happy people, which was a great feeling. We did a lot of living as a group and that has helped to fill the huge void that Karen’s death has created. Life is precious and we were given some quality time that a lot of other Cancer patients are not afforded. I will always be in awe of Karen’s courage, determination and hope for life. I try to live my life the way that Karen did, treating people well and making a difference in their lives.
Mom, I miss you every day and cherish the memories of the time we spent together. I can honestly say you are my best friend and my mother and that made all the difference.