Karissa Rund is a super survivor, a speaker, and a storyteller. One of four girls, she grew up in the foothills of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, cut her teeth in journalism and feels a calling on her life to bring light into dark places. She feels uniquely suited to talk about suffering and overcoming darkness because her life has had more than its share of tragedy.
Her mother died of breast cancer when Karissa was just 11 years old. She knows God is real because he spoke to her at Columbine, where she survived the shooting as a high school freshman. When she was 20, she became a war widow when her husband and high school sweetheart was killed in action in Iraq. At 31, she was diagnosed with “terminal” Stage IV cancer.
Karissa was educated in journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder, in public relations at Georgetown University, in business at the University of Colorado Denver and in theology at Denver Seminary. In addition to fighting for her life, Karissa is also currently co-authoring an as-of-yet untitled novel about her one in a trillion life. She’s married to Doug, her first husband’s brother (you read that right!) And he is the kind and quirky man she dreamt of. They spend their time finding joy in both indoorsy and outdoorsy pursuits, including gardening, hiking, camping, reading, cuddling and all sort of other ings.
Karissa share’s her story
As I grow into my own as a woman, owning my mission to speak, write and be a voice in the culture, I’ve realised that I’m happiest when I’m using my gifts to impact the world for good. I believe it’s important to take care of yourself and steward your body, your gifts, and your abilities, but that those unique attributes were given to you for the benefit of others.
This realisation has been hard-won.
And as I write this, my body is fighting Stage IV cancer against 8 percent odds of survival. Only three months ago, I had a recurrence in my lung, which led to surgery number 8.
As someone with a “terminal” disease, single-digit odds of surviving it and a life that includes losing my mother to cancer, surviving the Columbine High School shooting and becoming a war widow, I think a lot about the meaning of life — What am I here for? What really matters? How should I be spending whatever time I have left?
Hundreds of studies over the last hundreds of years have shown that what we think makes us happy often doesn’t. We think money will make us happy, when in fact the benefits to our happiness only extend to making $70,000 dollars US a year. After that threshold, more money doesn’t make us any happier. We think more stuff will make us happy, but as our disposable income has grown, our happiness has gone down while our anxiety and depression has gone up. We think fame will make us happy, but we could ask anyone who has been in the fame game for a while and they would tell us that it’s simply not true.
These same studies and many, many more have shown that what actually makes us happy is a community, love and giving back to others — all things that take the focus off ourselves and put it onto others.
At this stage in my life, with “terminal” cancer, BEYOUROWN Woman means that I have the freedom to choose how to spend the moments that make up my life. And given the facts, as well as the calling that beats and burns inside me, I know that it’s better for me and everyone else to choose a life that gives to others.
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