A "Peace" of Kate: "Never Let Cancer Define Who You Are"

Julie's Story

My husband of only a year and a half was diagnosed with colon cancer on 12/28/14, and our lives were changed forever. 

This is my story. My name is Julie Zier and I am the wife and caregiver to Ken Kiess, a colon cancer warrior.

Ken and I met on a blind date in 2009. I married Ken and his thick NY accent just over two years ago. We were looking forward to a long and wonderful life together.

We had a dark couple of weeks after Ken’s diagnosis. We started calling everyone who we knew who could help—I needed to be sure that Ken was getting the newest and best treatment.  Our contacts brought us to a great doctor at Weill Cornell at NY Presbyterian.  

Ken spent two weeks in MSK getting the HAI pump. This pump deliver 300 x the chemo directly to the liver. We were not prepared for the after effects of the surgery.  He had serious complications from the surgery and is still gaining his strength back.  

Ken will not let this cancer define him and he refuses to talk stages, he says he is in the stage of life.  He is a beacon of light in what is a very dark time. Thank you for letting us share our story. 

Ken’s story

As a 51 father of 4 and just recently married to my wonderful wife, Julie, I was looking forward to beginning our new life and our new journey.  I had started a new job and had just bought a new house.  Life was settling down and except for a couple of bumps in the road of having 4 teenagers, life was good and we were looking forward to a wonderful future.

When out of the blue, everything changed.  I was diagnosed with colon cancer with mets to liver on December 30, 2014.  Not the kind of news anybody wants to hear.  But it was what it was.  Since that fateful day, I have not looked back nor asked why me?  Life is never a constant and there are never any guarantees.   

I am in the fight literally for my life not only for me and family but for all that may come after me with this diagnosis. I immediately wanted to help anyone else and when people asked me “what can I do for you”, I said get yourself checked immediately, that is what you can do for me.

From this desire to help, my involvement with the Colon Cancer Alliance was started.  I immediately connected with the web site and was happy to get my entire Merrill Lynch office involved in the Wear Work to Blue Day in March.  And while I am not a Facebook member, I know my wife finds comfort communicating with others suffering along with us.   Then I immediately started raising awareness and funds for the Undy Run/Walk.  My wife came up with our name, The Smart Asses and the cute eye catching logo.  We wanted the word ass somewhere in our logo to draw attention to getting checked.  We used the smart ass logo on all of our correspondence and had team t-shirts made with the logo and the catch phrase, “don’t be a dumb ass, get yourself checked”.   

My family and friends have been so strong for me during this time and they drove miles that Saturday morning to attend the race and raised well over $75,000 for the cause.  Without their support, I don’t know where I would be in this fight.

The advice I would give anyone who has been diagnosed and wants to get involved it is quite simple, you are never alone and there are many great people who want to help.  Reach out to any and all who can be of help. Turn a bad thing into something good, never let cancer define who you are!

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