On Beyond Cancer

My life with metastatic breast cancer

She was the strongest person I have ever known August 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — laziesthero @ 10:34 am

I am so sorry to tell you that Karissa passed away today around lunchtime surrounded by our family at home. She fought so hard to be with us for 5 years, which we were so grateful for. I have never cried so hard in my life, but she did give us a gift of a smile right before she passed to remember her with. I know I will see her face anytime our 2 boys smile.

I will update again when we have information about her funeral, but I wanted everyone to know about what happened today.

If you have any happy stories you would like to share in the comments about Karissa, our family would love to read them.


17 Responses to “She was the strongest person I have ever known”

  1. Kathy Clarke Says:

    OMG Mike, I am so very sorry for you, Ethan, Ryan, Sara, Margie and the rest of your family. I have prayed every day for a miracle because Karissa has been a true inspiration to me and I am sure others. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

  2. Oh Mike, I am very sorry to hear this. I send my condolences to you, your sons and Karissa’s relatives and friends.. I was actually concerned because Karissa did not update anymore. And now this bad news…

    I have known Karissa only online, but she has been very helpful in providing information about the treatment of liver mets and genetic research. She seemed to be on top of medical developments and I really regret she did not find the proper treatment. It seems nothing worked for her.

    It is, under the circumstances, good to hear she was surrounded by her loved ones when she died.

  3. Robin Says:

    Mike, my heart aches so badly. For you, for her, for the boys, for everyone. My happy times with her are too numerous to share in one small comment. Trying to search for and prove the existence of aliens together at 8, preparing our graduation speeches together, proms, dances, boys, crushes, weddings, a shared pregnancy, and our fun shopping trip just a few short weeks ago. She was my rock through elementary and high school, and my parenting mentor. She’s wonderful and I know her kids will know all about her.

  4. Karissa, though you are no longer with us I will remember you always. You made such an impact on my life, though from afar. You were so thoughtful. I remember seeing you hold Ethan when he was just a baby. I hoped to be a mom just like you. Your hand made gifts and books sent to us when we started our family were so encouraging to me. I have hoped to return the encouragement many a time. I hope you and your sweet kiddos know what an example you have been to me. You have truly taken these past five years and done some wonderful things, made some wonderful memories, and I still hope I can one day be half the wonderful mom you are. Love you always my friend! I will think of you often.

  5. amanda Says:

    Karissa you will truly be missed by so many. When I got off the phone with my Dad just now I thought to myself make the best of everyday! If I learned anything in the last 5 years from you it is just that. You have always been someone I have looked up to! From running around Grammies apartment when we were little to listening to you and Jen talking about boys. When I think of how much strength you have shown and what an inspiration you have been I can only thank God for allowing all of us to know you friends and family alike. I love you and will miss hearing from you!

  6. Alice Says:

    I am so sorry about your loss – Mike, Ethan, Ryan, Sara and everyone else in your family. My prayers are with all of you.

    Karissa was a wonderful friend and co-worker. Sometimes they would confuse us at work as we shared similar responsibilities and we had similar hair color…. Karissa would always listen to my insane life stories and give me great advice! Several years ago we attended a conference in Florida. We shared the room and even Sara stayed over with us one night :o) The fun part of the trip was walking around the town and looking for something to eat for one hour while Karissa was pregnant – good times Karissa right? ;o)

    I will miss you very much! You are an angel and true inspiration to all of us!

    Rest in peace my friend….

  7. Vicki Hiers Says:

    My deepest condolences to your entire family during this difficult time. My heart, thoughts and prayers are for you to have the strength needed from our heavenly father and the love and support from friends and family. Even though I never had the chance to meet Karissa I knew her through my friend Jennifer Gilbertson and prayed for her often. She touched so many lives for the better and all that knew her are truly blessed. May you find the peace of Christ in the coming days.

    – Vicki & Darren Hiers (friend of Jennifer Gilbertson)

  8. Michelle Watkinson Says:

    Mike, I am so sad to hear of Karissa’s passing. My heart aches for your family, Karissa and for you. She loved you very much and her boys. I’m so grateful to have been friends with both of you and to be in your lives to celebrate and cry together. I wish I could express something better but I’m at a loss for words. One of my favorite stories of Karissa is when we worked at family med together and took a 5 hour lunch with two fellows. Karissa and I got in so much trouble but in the end it was worth it. All I can say is true friendships were forged that day. Karissa helped me during my “bad” dating experiences -she would be the voice of reason and experience. I’ll greatly miss her laughter and smile! Thank you for being a truly wonderful husband and friend to her. She always spoke of how much her family meant to her. Please know that I am here for you, whenever you are ready or in need. I send my love to Ethan, Ryan, your parents, Sarah, Margie and the rest of the Clarke/Hahn family. Sending much love always, Michelle

  9. Jenny Says:

    Mike, we are so sorry for your loss and for you whole family’s loss! Karissa was a wonderful person. Alan and I always admired her very much. She was so loving and caring. Karissa was an inspiration to us. Though regrettably we haven’t seen you or your family lately, she was in our thoughts and prayers regularly, and she will be dearly missed.

    • Rob Eisberg Says:

      Mike and I met at Rutgers. We got along well, discussing things like computers, Star Wars, and our inability to bench press our own body weight. What seemed like less than a week later, Karissa was visiting over at Mike’s room. Later that day, Mike told me about her. So… We were two college guys. It was probably only a sentence or two… But it was clear to me when we talked our college guy talk that Karissa was very special to him. Sometimes, us men will communicate volumes in a sentence or two. The expression of interest on his face, the posture of respect. He said a lot, and it was confirmed as the semester went on.
      Karissa was an inspiration to me. We were both studying Biology. But with such a large campus, I didn’t have any classes with her until the 2nd semester. I remember we took Physics II together. One night, before an exam, I walked up to her room to ask a question. She was already finished with her exam preparations! I asked her how she could be done, it’s a tough subject! She said, “Well, you have to study this stuff every day.” Sometimes, people doing normal things way better than you do them can really make an impression on you. So, I took her advise. For all (most) of my classes.
      And then one day Mike showed me a little black box with a ring inside. He asked me if I could help him propose to Karissa. He told me that he had already walked three times around Passion Puddle with Karissa. Of course, Rutgers students know the lore of Passion Puddle: If you walk around the lake (puddle) while holding hands three times, you’ll marry. So, in order to add the element of surprise, Mike asked me to bring Karissa to the Puddle, where he’d be waiting. I do remember driving over there with her in my car. She was kinda suspicious. She was supposed to meet Mike for dinner at the other side of campus, and now I’ve got her in my car in NJ traffic going to “Walmart” to meet up with Mike, all while playing a custom CD that Mike had made with some of their favorite romantic songs. I’m sure she knew something was going on. Boy did her face light up when we pulled up to that lake, and there is Mike, in a shirt, shoes, hair combed nice. I just don’t have the words to describe the expression on her face when she saw him standing there. So happy!

      After I graduated (Mike and Karissa matriculated early) I moved out of state. Both my wife Candi and I have watched their family grow, and enjoyed our far too infrequent visits. Our kids even use the names Uncle Mike and Aunt Karissa, cousins Ethan and Ryan.

      We all mourn the loss of a good friend today. May our memories bring you some peace.

      • Robin Says:

        That’s beautiful. I remember Karissa calling and telling me the same story, but obviously from her view point. Yes, i can confirm she was pretty suspicious. 🙂

        Thank you for sharing, and your part in their great love story.

  10. Winnie Says:

    This is a very surprising news because no matter how difficult the situation was, Karissa would never show it. She is the most positive person that I have known. When I needed advice from her (mostly over silly stuff like job interviews and baby advice), she was always like a big sister to me – comfort and guide me through. I wish I could have spent more time with her. I am sure whenever I am faced with tough situations, she will always be the first thing in my mind:) I really need to thank God for letting me know this great person!!!

  11. Pam Says:

    Karissa will be missed dearly. She was a great friend. If I needed a pick-me-up, I always made sure to stop in at Family Medicine to share some dry humor with you. No matter what was going on, we could share a good laugh while talking about the “serious stuff.” She lived every day to the fullest and taught us much about what it meant to live. She left the world a better place by her presence in it. Rest in Peace.

  12. Kendra Haluska Says:

    Dear Mike and Family, I am so sorry for your loss. Your wife’s smile will last forever, what a wonderful gift she gave to all of you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  13. […] husband called her “the strongest person he’s ever known“.  I couldn’t agree more.  Now it’s time for all of us to follow her […]

  14. Kathy Gaddis Says:

    Mike, we’ve never met. I am Karissa’s dad’s cousin. Bill’s dad and my mom are brother and sister. I am so very sorry for the loss of Karissa for you and your boys. I have a little story to tell you, which shows just how connected we all are. Friday afternoon I received a Facebook message from my friend Jessica Schedeneck, who lives in Las Vegas, where I also live. She said “How do you know Karissa Hahn?” After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I responded and told her of my connection to Karissa. She said that she personally didn’t know Karissa, but that her husband Neil Schedeneck, who grew up in Keyport, had been on Facebook tracking down high school friends. He found two friends who both made mention of Karissa, so he went to her page, and there he found me listed as a mutual friend. He went to his yearbook and found a picture of Karissa. She was 2 years ahead of Neil, so she probably wasn’t aware of Neil’s existence, but he remembered her, especially after seeing her picture. So then I said to Jessica that maybe Neil knew Karissa’s sister, Sara. Not only did he know Sara, but Sara married his good friend and bowling buddy, Ken Lopez! The whole thing is just so amazing.

    Please know that you and Ethan and Ryan are in our prayers and when
    I go to church tomorrow I will light a candle for your family. My sisters Jan and Nancy and my brother Jim also send their condolences.

    Sending hugs, Kathy Gaddis

  15. Clare Husbands Says:


    It’s Clare. As you know, my time with Karissa was very brief. She told me her story that night we had dinner. I still remember thinking how AMAZING she was… her attitude and spirit gave no indication of her illness. It was immediately apparent how graciously she was handling the cards life dealt out. The light in Karissa shone bright, despite the darkness that surrounded her. I am blessed and grateful for getting to meet and know her. Zach too sends his love and prayers to your family.

    Zach’s mommy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s