2013 Graduate Fighting for Future
You would never know by her energetic voice and positive outlook on life that single mother of five Laura Kapala (’13) was battling Stage IV breast cancer, all while finishing up a degree in organizational management. Her inspirational strength has touched the hearts of many at Bethel and fueled The Hope for Laura Fund, a cause run by fellow classmate Daniel Sexton (’13), to help Kapala in her fight against cancer.
Kapala was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer in 2010. After a year’s worth of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, Kapala received the news in February that her cancer spread and there was no cure.
“My family and I were devastated by the diagnosis of a recurrence,” says Kapala. “Stage IV meant terminal to us.”
While many would crumble at this news, Kapala decided to fight for herself and her kids. She began looking for other treatments outside the United States and found a possible answer to her prayers in Mexico. This treatment not only offered a possible cure to her illness, but gave her hope — a vital ingredient to the fight against cancer.
“Cancer has had a negative impact on the quality of my life, but it has also initiated a positive change in my outlook on life,” says Kapala. “I definitely have a stronger sense of spirituality and sustainability and feel more grateful for my life. I won’t go as far as saying I am glad I have cancer. The reality of Stage IV cancer is that it has no easy cure and that it can take your life at any moment. I have to live with it but I choose to not live in it.”
Kapala’s motivation to serve the Lord, spend time with her children and see her youngest child go off to college are some of the biggest reasons Kapala continues to remain hopeful for the future.
“I find my motivation in the eyes of my children, but my strength is spiritual,” says Kapala.
It is also the reason she continues her education in pursuit of a degree in organizational management. While she does not know if she will be alive tomorrow, she seeks to achieve her dreams today.
“The degree is most predominantly evidence of my own personal commitment to learning,” says Kapala. “I invested in an experience that provided me with new learning and new ways of thinking, which have become part of who I am.”
Kapala found more than just an education in her classes here at Bethel. When Kapala asked her classmates to pray for her, they not only prayed, but raised funds for her treatment. Sexton set up a Facebook page where he rallied friends to either donate funds or post an encouraging note to The Hope for Laura Fund.
“Laura herself has inspired me,” says Sexton. “Even after she received the news that the cancer had returned with nothing left to do to fight it, she continued to work hard to achieve and complete her degree. If you did not know about her story, you would never know you were seeing someone who had been sentenced to death. She still has five kids that need her, cancer or not. Dying or not. Her humble dedication to serve others goes beyond that of an ordinary mother or friend. Laura’s HOPE through all this is that God’s will is done, whether here on this earth or not.”
“I was completely surprised when Dan told me my classmates were raising money for my treatment,” says Kapala. “I do not feel that my struggles are any more important than anyone else’s struggles and I think that it is incredibly generous of my classmates to reach out in this way. [My] family and friends have provided both emotional and financial support the entire time I have been fighting the cancer. Without them, I would have already lost.”