Grapevine congregation deals with death of pastor

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on February 21, 2011 at 6:35 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 21 at 7:05 PM

GRAPEVINE — A Grapevine pastor unexpectedly passed away this weekend.

Dr. Ken Diehm died from acute leukemia that wasn't diagnosed until it was too late. He would have been 53 years old next week.

Just three weeks ago, Dr. Diehm talked to his congregation at First United Methodist Church  Grapevine how to overcome tragedy — the sudden death of a loved one.

"You can look around this room, and every person here is going to die; it's just a matter of when will it happen," he said.

On Sunday morning, his congregation was in mourning.

"It was very quiet Sunday prior to the sermons," said church member Becky Prentice. "I think everybody was in such shock."

The church says the pastor felt fine on Friday until he complained of a sudden headache.

By Saturday Diehm was in the hospital, diagnosed with acute leukemia.

Dr. Sanjay Oommenn is an oncologist with Texas Health Fort Worth. He says leukemia patients usually notice bruising, bleeding gums, and painful headaches when white blood cells overwhelm the body.

Dr. Oommenn says acute myeloid leukemia is treatable as long as patients see their doctor when they first notice the symptoms. If those symptoms are ignored, the cancer can act quickly.

"Most of individuals with acute leukemia have symptoms for less than a month, and it progresses rapidly depending on how severe the leukemia is," Dr. Oommenn said.

Dr. Diehm is being remembered across North Texas for leading his church to unprecedented growth. In Grapevine Monday, flags were flown at half-staff because of his contributions to the city.

"Ken touched lives in many ways," said Grapevine City Manager Bruno Rumbelow. "Not just from the pulpit; he was an active, engaged member of the community."

First United Methodist Church will hold a memorial service for their pastor this Saturday at 2 p.m. Church members are relying on Dr. Diehm's own words for comfort.

"God will give us the strength to go in the midst of tragedy," he told his congregation in that sermon last month.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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