Karen Black

Source: http://karenblackactress.blogspot.ca/2013/08/august-7th-update-from-stephen-karens.html

August 7th update from Stephen, Karen‘s husband

A lot of people have been asking me what’s the latest with Karen, so here it is:

Last post I did was mid-June, we were in St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. A week later, everything the hospital could do for Karen had been done; bacterial infections & anemia handled, heart & lungs working – everything but the cancer itself. By the way, props to St John’s, a top notch hospital with a great staff of doctor’s and nurses.

Karen’s health continued to deteriorate at an alarming pace. She became bed-bound: the spreading cancer having eaten away part of a vertebra and nerves in her lower back. Her left leg stopped functioning. We could not go to Europe as we had hoped. It would have been almost impossible to travel to the airport. So we brought alternative treatments to her bedside. Hardly as effective as doing a full treatment in a clinic, but I firmly believe that these treatments have been keeping her alive. I can’t tell you how many times doctors and nurses have pulled me aside and told me that I better start hospice, as she was about to die. One doctor told me that he thought that Karen had only 24 hours to live when she arrive at St. Johns June 3rd, and yet here she is alive two months later.

The kind people at the Motion Picture Television Fund helped place her in a nursing facility, where she is now. The cancer is still spreading slowly and it takes its toll.

I have given up predicting what is going to happen to Karen. In June family members flew in fearing the worse, but Karen is still here. You look at the scans, they tell you one thing, then you meet Karen, and what you are left with is how amazingly alive she is. Maybe it’s her belief system, maybe it’s because she was never one to tune out with drugs in her life, but mostly it’s her innate character. She can’t help but take life head-on and be completely engaged in the moment, always interested, always curious, always present.
My daughter and I have both stopped working so that we can be by her side and we have hired someone to help as well. Thanks to your generous support through this process we can be there for her all the time. We are supplementing traditional medicine with all the alternative care we can afford. This would not have been possible without your generosity.

As a filmmaker I never remain idle, and have been filming this whole process from the beginning almost three years ago – it has been therapy for both Karen and myself, because after all, if cameras are rolling, it can’t be really serious, it’s just a movie, right? I hadn’t planned on doing anything with the footage, until a few weeks ago, Karen reached out to her old friend, Elliot Mintz. Elliot is considered a media guru who has offered advice to dozens of famous clients over the years including Karen. They spoke by phone about ways Karen could share her experience with others, in her own words, in her own way. I spoke with him about the many hours of film I had shot and within days, Elliot presented some ideas for us to consider.

On June 21st, Karen put on her make-up and her hair (chemo is not kind on hair) and had a heart to hear – a bedside talk with Elliot. They spoke for almost two hours. With my daughter shooting second camera in the tiny room, I filmed the deeply moving and candid conversation. Karen of course is very enthusiastic about finding the right platform for some kind of presentation. ‘You can take the girl outta showbiz…..’ so, we will see. It’s still a little raw for me, I’m not sure. It would be an interesting and moving journey to share with a truly unique and original spirit. We are both grateful to Elliot for his support and guidance (He is representing us pro bono).

So, that’s where things are as we begin August. I wish I had better news to report. But cancer seldom allows for that. Karen and I have received hundreds of messages from you. Your prayers and well wishes help sustain us. We remain eternally grateful for all the love you continue to share.

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