(RNS) — In 2015, Kate Bowler, a history professor at Duke Divinity School, then 35 and the mother of a young son, was diagnosed with stage IV cancer.

After getting the news, she wept. She prayed. Then she called her husband.

“I waited until he arrived so we could wrap our arms around each other and say the things that must be said. I have loved you forever. I am so grateful for our life together. Please take care of our son,” she wrote in a New York Times opinion piece a few months after her initial diagnosis. Then he walked me from my office to the hospital to start what was left of my new life.”

Bowler was not ready for what came next.

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