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October 20, 2005 [ More archived home pages here ]

Relative Strength

In the early Spring of 2004, I was informed by my sister, Nina, that her youngest child, just barely a teenager, was diagnosed with a very lethal and rare form of cancer. Katie, as she is known, would be in a battle for her life from that point on and it continues to this very night.

Previously I sometimes wanted to mention Katie's story here, but each time I thought I might have something to say, I would get an encouraging call from Nina and my thoughts were deferred. Now I think I can tell the story faithfully from my perspective.

For the first year of the disease, Katie responded well to the chemo treatments. Although she had to stay at home, her friends came by often to visit. She was able to keep up with her studies and grades. Katie is a very smart young teenage girl and performance in and out of school has always been important to her.

Nina and her family were there to support Katie at every moment she needed attention. Needless to say, it has been a huge strain on the family as is always the case in these situations. Everyone affected offers their prayers and emotional support for Katie and the family.

Last Spring, Katie was taken off the chemo and started to enjoy her freedom again. She was starting to gain weight and get her energy back again. That reprieve only lasted about a month. Then she was informed that the disease had roared back with a vengeance and the only options were experimental treatments. None of the other patients had survived for very long in similar situations.

Katie had been showing signs of improvement until very recently. Then the scans this week revealed that the tumors were growing larger. Katie is now in the terminal phase of the disease. I'm told she doesn't have too much time left. Everyone involved is shaken and feeling very badly about it. We can only pray that Katie will be allowed to live out her remaining time with dignity according to her wishes and free from as much pain as possible. Our prayers and hearts go out to my sister's family. They have been through so much already and now the finality of it is upon them. It is a very sad time.

Katie is aware of her terminal condition. She has been very active in her treatments all along. She has never complained and always tries to put the most positive light on her condition. Even now she is planning on having the best times she can with whatever time is left to her.

Katie is a fighter. Katie has one of the strongest spirits I've ever known. She has had to endure a lot of suffering these last eighteen months and yet, she still has her wonderful sense of humor and pleasing smile. So far, Katie has outlasted everyone else diagnosed with the disease. She is a very strong young woman and sets an example of how to face deadly diseases with strength and dignity.

It's been a very upsetting evening for me. I know I will feel very sad for some time to come over this issue. I also know Katie wouldn't want me or the others to get depressed over her situation. She would want us to continue to feel strong in spirit just as she does.

On some days I'll be able to live up to Katie's expectations better than other days. Katie's own life's example has expressed more to me in her too short of years than some people who live to be 100. None of us know exactly how long we will live. By following Katie's example we might know how to live better with whatever time we do have. So today, this page is dedicated to the life of Katie, my niece.

Do me a favor if you can, say a prayer for Katie and her family. All such prayers will be appreciated. Thank you.

Don


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