Karina's faith was very important to her and it embed her life with passion and purpose.
This didn't mean that she didn't have dark times when she had pain that wouldn't get relieved or her cancer wouldn't continue to progress. Having cancer challenged every aspect of her life- including how she viewed her self, her relationships to loved ones, family and friends, and her relationship to God.
She never asked for her cancer to be taken away, but rather that He be with her. She knew that God used cancer in her life to fulfill His purposes for his kingdom on earth. As a result, even as a child, she sought to open herself up to others, to share her story or experience, or to consent to research, in the hopes that it would move His kingdom forward with purposes larger than her self.
When Karina was just 11 years old, she was told that her lung cancer was already inoperable. Our family heard about an innovative surgery in Germany and she receive special permission to have the procedures done there (it was an adult-only hospital - but the physicians also knew she had no other alternative). Soon after her recovery there, we heard about another American (a young woman with three children) who had come there for surgery - having had fundraisers from her church. Once she was there though, she was afraid to have it done.
Karina offered to talk with her, show her her new scar, and make the surgery seem less frightening. She had the surgery the next day, and they spent time together as they both recovered together. In this deep and personal way we could see God's plan of hope through coming alongside through a shared cross.
As Karina's friends sent me emails and chats that she had toward the end of her life, I found this precious jewel:
"It's God's will, and even if I rather that He would call me later, this world is just a beginning of a journey towards Him."
We're very thankful that this letter was sent to Karina from her best friend Maggie: