Katie's Story
Katie was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on September 23rd, 2008. This was the start of a long, tough journey involving chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplants. Over the course of the next 2 and a half years, she was in remission twice but cancer returned after treatment stopped.
Katie had been tired since the middle of summer 2008, but was conditioning for volleyball and playing travel softball, so we weren't surprised she was often tired. In September she started an "annoying" cough, kind of like an allergy cough. She had a doctors appointment and they ran some blood tests. It indicated she was slightly anemic but nothing else. When the cough continued, a chest Xray was ordered. On September 23rd Kathleen got the call that no parent ever wants to receive. After a brief stop in the doctors office, Katie and Kathleen headed straight to Riley where doctors were expecting her. The Xray revealed a large mass over her left lung that was stage 2B Lymphoma. A biopsy verified that it was cancer and Katie had her first surgery to put in a central line for chemotherapy.
Over the next 2 and 1/2 years Katie fought her cancer. She had almost 10 surgeries for various lines and radiation markers. She made it to football games after getting chemo all day, to dances when she didn't feel good, to Notre Dame games when she had to wear a mask. She never let her disease take over her life. She lived life to the fullest with trips to New York, Washington DC, San Diego, Florida, and Ireland. Enduring so much treatment was very tiring and wore on her. But other than rearranging classes so she didn't have first period, she made it to school and every event that she could. She was asked to be a National Spokeskid for the SunShine Kids and talked to groups of people about Kids with cancer.
Katie's journey was filled with so many trips to Riley that it's hard to remember all of them. There were outpatient clinic visits, inpatient stays, emergency room visits for fevers, and the countless trips to IU hospital and Bloomington for radiation. Katie always made these trips seem insignificant for us as parents. She was always upbeat and cheerful to doctors, nurses and technicians. She made more friends at Riley than most people have in a lifetime. Without katie's upbeat attitude, Kathleen and I would never have survived.
Katie entered Riley hospital in May 2011 to begin her second stem cell transplant. This transplant was from donor cells and carried more risk. During the regimen to get her body ready for the transplant, she had a reaction to some drugs and ended up in ICU for a week. By the end of that week, she had made many new friends with ICU doctors and nurses. She ended up receiving her stem cells while still in ICU. She rebounded from this, in typical Katie fashion and was moved back to the stem cell floor. By day 8 after the transplant, her blood counts were beginning to come back, the donor cells were beginning to work.
On May 20th, 2011, the unthinkable happened. Katie awoke early in the morning with difficulty breathing. As Kathleen tried to help her Katie went into cardiopulmonary arrest.
Katie's funeral viewing was attended by over 4000 people at Roncalli high school. Her funeral procession was six miles long heading to the cemetary. These are testaments to the number of people, both young and old, that Katie deeply touched in her 17 years.