Photo courtesy Mary Kay Stout
FILE - Ward members were challenged to each index 1,940 names in a month.
It kept my mind on something else besides 'woe (is) me.' I felt like I was doing something instead of just being sick. I was actually helping someone with their records. I was accomplishing something, something positive. It was really good for me. —Diana Karras

Editor's note: This is one in a series of features on family history.

At a time when Diana Karras was struggling with cancer and had every reason to say "no" to indexing, the family history activity helped keep her going.

A few years ago, Karras, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Roy thought family history work was "boring." Her husband was involved with genealogy, but when the activity sign-up sheets were passed around in church meetings, she usually declined.

"I never signed up," 63-year-old Karras said. "I thought, 'I don't have time for that.'"

Then a friend in their LDS ward, Jennifer Smith, persuaded Karras to try indexing.

Indexing involves entering names from old records, such as birth and death certificates or census records, into a searchable, digital database. The more Karras did the work, the more fun it became.

"I became most interested in how people died," Karras said.

Then about a year ago, Karras became sick. She was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. She endured chemotherapy and was forced into isolation to avoid germs. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she continued indexing.

"Instead of staring at stupid TV, I started really getting into indexing," Karras said.

Her skill at interpreting records became so good that Karras was recommended as an arbitrator, a person who reviews the work of other indexers. It helped her to focus on something besides her health and maintain a positive attitude.

"It kept my mind on something else besides 'woe (is) me.' I felt like I was doing something instead of just being sick," Karras said. "I was actually helping someone with their records. I was accomplishing something, something positive. It was really good for me."

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The cancer is now in remission and her energy is gradually coming back. She is grateful for this progress and hopes the trend continues.

Her experience with cancer has taught Karras to look outside of herself, despite limitations, and contribute something positive to the world.

"Even though I couldn't serve in the church, I realized I could index and would think, 'I am doing something,'" Karras said. "I know Heavenly Father appreciates me doing this instead of just being sick and feeling sorry for myself."

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