Alamogordo man writes about cancer survival

By By JANESSA MAXILOM

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — There is always a silver lining with local author and cancer survivor Keith E. Gerber. When Gerber was diagnosed with stage four melanoma, his life was forever changed.

"On July 23, 1992, I was told I had less than a year to live," Gerber said. "The doctor told me to say my goodbyes."

He explained that even when he thought he was going to die he was able to find reason to be thankful.

"I was glad it was me and not someone in my family," he said. "I think it would have been harder for me to deal with someone I love being sick."

The experience was still trying for him and he started dealing with his feelings by writing.

"I write when I am overcome with emotion," Gerber said. "I find that it helps me cope with my emotions."

His first book, "I Have Lived: Life from a Cancer Survivor's "Perspective," is based on how he handled his diagnosis.

"I had that 'why me' feeling. I felt sorry for myself," he said. "Now I have that 'why me' feeling because I've been so blessed."

After surviving cancer, Gerber continued writing for cathartic reasons. But he also found inspiration to write through his faith.

His second book, "The Christian Chronicles," is a faith-based book that was written to inspire others to live life positively.

"It started when I wrote a poem about Jesus," he said. "After that I was inspired to write a whole book about his life."

Gerber researched and compiled information about the life of Jesus for two and a half years before he wrote the book.

"When I started writing the book it felt like it wasn't me writing it anymore," he said. "I tell people that God used me as an instrument to write the book because it's better writing than I'm capable of."

Gerber was raised a Christian and even went to a parochial school in Washington, D.C., while growing up. He spent much of his life traveling the world because his father was in the U.S. Air Force.

During one of his father's many moves, the family drove through Alamogordo. His father liked the town so much he chose to get stationed at Holloman Air Force Base when he retired.

Gerber said he was 14 when his family moved to Alamogordo.

"At first I didn't like it here because it was so small," he said. "But after living here and seeing how friendly the people were I felt I had a hometown for the first time in my life."

He said he is proud to be a citizen of Alamogordo and that the community is also source of inspiration when he was writing his second book.

"I'm not afraid to say 'God bless you' in this town," he said. "In some communities people will look at you odd for being open and friendly, but here it isn't that way."

Gerber, a self-proclaimed optimist, said he is proud to be an average ordinary citizen of the community. He takes pride in simply being alive.

"The doctor told me it was probably my attitude that helped me survive," he said. "I have been told by others that I have a tendency to see the bright side of things."

Gerber said a person interviewing him for a job once asked if he saw the glass as half empty or half full. He said he shocked the interviewer when he replied that he was simply happy to have a glass. He landed the job through having a positive attitude, he said.

Gerber was born in Glendale, Calif. He has three children of whom he is proud.

"My kids are amazing," he said. "I'm a very blessed person."

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Information from: Alamogordo Daily News, http://www.alamogordonews.com

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