No one was more surprised than Karen Rasch when she threw a blood clot. She was an active dancer, physically fit with no medical history that would have led her to believe firefighters would ever have to break into her house to save her.

Then came the cancer diagnosis.

“I still refuse to acknowledge I have anything,” Rasch said.

Instead, she focuses on getting back on her toes and performing with her beloved Central Coast Follies.

Rasch, a member of an Emmy-award winning sound editing team, retired to the Central Coast in 2015. She grew up an “Air Force brat,” she said, but managed to find performing arts wherever her family lived. She earned her degree in theatre arts from UCLA and her career in the film industry took her all over Europe and Asia.

But she found her home in Santa Maria.

“I’ve met so many nice people. Everyone I’ve found here has been just really nice and very helpful. I never thought, after having lived in Washington, D.C. and Rome and Taiwan and all over Europe, that I’d be happy in a town this small, but it has so much to offer. Here, people look you in the eye and deal with you,” Rasch said.

Not the least of which was the emergency service response and medical care she received after the clot took her down.

“I was upstairs in bed. I couldn’t breathe. Every time I’d try to breathe, it was like two fists punching my lungs,” Rasch said.

By the time firefighters had broken into her home and emergency service responders were carting her out, a neighbor was at her front door.

“She came to the hospital with me. It was incredible,” Rasch said.

During her five-day hospital stay, a battery of tests showed “symptoms of possible low-grade cancer,” Rasch said. She underwent surgery to address the cancer, and said she’s had no symptoms since.

Her follow-up has included use of Mission Hope Cancer Center’s meditation center, nutritionists, and physical fitness programs.

“I was very impressed with Marian Hospital and everything I’ve had to do with all the scans. It’s a wonderful group,” Rasch said.

Once her treatment was wrapped up, there was no time to waste. Rasch had tap classes to take at Hancock College, rehearsal time scheduled with the Follies, piano and guitar lessons lined up with Jerry Cuello.

“It’s great to keep the body moving. They say learning new things keeps your brain from atrophying. I just like doing,” Rasch said.

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