Book Review

Colon cancer puts US don’s faith under the litmus test

Kate Bowler
Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

Everything happens for a reason” is a phrase that’s all too common. We say it when we’re consoling the grieving, terminally ill or unfortunate. It is also the title of Kate Bowler’s new book. The 178-page book published by Random House earlier this year is a near ugly cry type of read.

You will try to hold onto the emotions swirling in your chest. You will flip the page, blink back tears, empathise with Kate and her quick journey to a cancer diagnosis, her will to live and pray she doesn’t die, except of old age. Or that your loved ones with the terminal disease don’t also pass away, but rather bite the dodgy bullet and spit the cartridge.

The author is an assistant professor at Duke Divinity College in the United States, with a focus on the American prosperity gospel, specialising in televangelism.

This means a lot of Christian faith perspective is heavy in the book. The nexus of faith and disease weighs down some of the pages, accentuating the need to take a breather when rummaging through these pages because the subject matter is heavy. You will fail to create a limit to how deep you will fall in this text, and you will fall hard and fast for the issues surrounding health, terminal illness, cancer diagnosis, treatment, faith and family.

What do you do when you or someone you know is given a short time to live? What do you say? Are faith and self- love enough? Where do faith and science meet? Do green juices, chicken broth and positive affirmations delay the inevitable?


Kate lost 30 pounds, endured three months of intense pain bouts in her gut, she’d take a minute, lean forward, palm against a wall, pop antacids, before she decided enough was enough, and camped in a doctor’s office for a permanent solution, before extensive tests revealed stage IV colon cancer. Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I have Told is a book about this, and a crisis of faith at 35, at a time she was living her dreams, happy with husband and young son.

This deeply reflective book, that recounts things you shouldn’t tell a terminally ill patient, is eerily similar to the late neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air. His wife Lucy, writes a review for this one too.

There are heartbreaking moments, just as there are those where the reader might break in a teary smile.

I won’t give out how the book ends, but it shines a spotlight on life, living in the moment, being present and there for family and close band of friends, regardless. It is well-written, open, and honest in difficult times of life when faced with questions of our own mortality. Reason and Other Lies I have Told is the soul of Kate Bowler in your hands. Get it today, it’s worth your time.