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First came the miscarriage, in February 2008. It caused problems in her marriage, she says. "When I had the miscarriage, we kind of drifted apart." She and her husband separated, and she began spending time with members of the LGBT community.
"He had made assumptions because I was hanging out with somebody who was, according to other people — gossip, rumors — bisexual," she says of her ex-husband, also a police officer. "So he started to have concerns."
In 2009, he told her that he was ready to end their marriage.
"I begged him to stay because I feared that I would be outed," Caster says. "And I feared that I wouldn't have that perfect little life with the white picket fence."
With both of them on the job, work became uncomfortable. "It was awkward for a while," Caster says. "And a lot of people took sides because we had mutual friends in the department."
In January 2010, just a few months after the divorce was final, Caster's doctor noticed something on her left knee. For a person who describes herself as "really, really pale," skin exams had become routine. "I've had 60 freckles and moles removed," Caster says.
This time was different.
She had surgery to remove the melanoma to prevent its spread to the popliteal lymph node in the knee. "It could have been really bad," she says. (As of this week, she was awaiting the results of new tests.)
A few years before, her father had successfully beaten the same disease. Caster says he told her then, "You never know how much you want to live until somebody tells you that you may not." It was time, Caster now understood, to embrace her new life.
She says, "I just realized: I can live a miserable existence or just be who I am. When I got cancer, that's when it didn't hurt me to be out about it. I didn't feel like I needed to hide it anymore."
Acceptance from others wasn't a given, though.
Caster grew up in the Northland with five older brothers in a socially conservative household — "a very Christian home," she says. She had been raised to want sameness, to value conformity. Now she felt that familiar pressure again: Some family members suggested that she wasn't gay but was instead suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the miscarriage.
"I wanted a normal life," she says. "I didn't want to disappoint my parents and my family and to be different from other people. I wanted to be the same."
But she had always had an idea that she was different. While her friends were crushing on boys, she was gravitating toward mostly male social circles. And she definitely knew that she felt something her friends didn't for Paula Abdul in the 1990s. "I had a thing for her," she says, laughing. "Who didn't?"
Her brother Tim, 34, a former cruise-line singer, had come out to their parents four years before. By then, he had dealt privately with years of denial, including a short stint in what he calls "pray the gay away" therapy.