Garden Prep/Speech Prep 5-15-12
I jumped in the shower before Scott had to leave for work. I don’t like having that morning time to myself because it makes me think of sad things. If I’m alone the thoughts come creeping in. So I try to get all that stuff done before Scott leaves.
In our conversation this morning I did tell Scott that I will stop crying the day I lay on my deathbed. Because that day will be the day I know that I will soon be reunited with Kathryn. Until then I will continue to cry but I will be crying in between many glorious and happy times. My life is good and I am happy. I don’t want you to believe that I am just down all of the time because I am not.
I have the garden area all ready to go. I took out all but three rose bushes. I have to also add 5 little tiny sprinklers. I did two of them. So tomorrow I will do the rest.
I wrote my speech for the Relay at Western. I thought I would include it here. Yes of course it was hard to write and I cried like a baby. I just hope to read it enough times so when I do read it at the relay I can do it without crying.
Hope – My daughter (Kathryn) was diagnosed with a Medulloblastoma (a type of brain tumor) back in 1999. At that time she was given a 70% survival rate now because of research and the sharing of information there is a 90-95% survival rate with this same tumor.
When Kathryn was diagnosed back in 1999 I heard horror stories of children never being the same after the treatment. I heard story after story of children losing their cognitive abilities as well as their physical abilities. I don’t know how many times I was told about gifted students who had undergone treatment for brain tumors and were no longer able to function at grade level.
For us the research had already found that the amount of radiation was far more than needed and we missed the high doses by months and maybe only weeks. Kathryn sailed through school as a straight A student. She earned many awards and was even recognized here at Western with an academic scholarship as she entered her freshman year.
The research allowed us to have Kathryn in her entirety. She was a whole person mind, body and soul. Her cancer didn’t take anything from her. She went on to live a very happy life. She even wrote that she felt it was her obligation to share her joy with everyone. She did just that. She had a smile that never dimmed. She went to the School of Arts in down town Tacoma where they would ride the bus from class to class because the classes could be several blocks apart. One day as she sat on the bus she noticed a boy. She went over to him and held his hand. She must have known he was feeling down and just needed a friend. There she was to comfort him.
She also attended Relay for Life starting in 2000. In 2005 she joined a friends team and from 2006-2009 she captained her own team. It was called CAKE, which stood for Kids against cancer everywhere. When she came to Western she was honored by being asked to serve on the Relay committee. She had a very full life.
The money raised here tonight not only supports research but many other things one of which is Camp Goodtimes. This is a camp for kids who have or had cancer. They are allowed to take one sibling. Camp Goodtimes is the happiest place on earth as Kathryn would say. It is a full week of fun. They go fishing, swimming, bike riding, do arts and crafts and just play around. They do skits and have campfires. They have a dance and a huge carnival. They get their hair done up with different colors and wacky designs. They go on the Boata to Seattle and get French fries thrown at them from Red Robin. I can’t imagine how my two children would have gone through life without Camp Goodtimes. Everyone is equal. Some have feeding tubes and some have no hair. No one cares because it isn’t about cancer – it’s about living it up. You have helped create this very special place for kids who need it so badly. That one week means more than you will ever know to these kids. Kathryn and my son Richard have attended since 2001. They started as campers and have dedicated every summer as staff as soon as they could.
Cancer gave Kathryn and our family appreciation for life, family and friends. She lived life to the very fullest because of cancer. Her dream was to become a childlife specialist in the oncology department to help kids get through their treatments. She figured she could be their example of success and give them hope. She did this already before she earned any degree. She gave many people hope. She brought joy to everyone she met. Cancer also gave us another family. The one we found at Camp Goodtimes. What an amazing gift that was. Cancer never beat us – we have received so much in terms of love and support because of cancer.
So, the research had come along far enough to give us a wonderful life with Kathryn but it hadn’t come far enough. Back in 1999 they also did what is called a full brain boost. This is radiation through out the entire brain. They don’t so this anymore. They have found out it is not needed and can cause secondary brain cancer. In our case that is what it did. Eleven years after her first diagnose Kathryn was once again diagnosed with a brain tumor on April 17th 2010. Our worst fears were confirmed on April 27th when her surgery took place and they told us it was a Glioblastoma Multiforma. A GBM is the most deadly form of brain cancer. The survival rate… well it doesn’t exist. She tried to come back and finish the year but it wasn’t going to happen. She did come back and participate as a committee member in the relay. Kathryn, was able to complete the 2010-2011 school year here at Western and also attend the relay as a committee member. This is because of research. Normally a person with a GBM dies within 6 months of diagnoses. It is unusually to live beyond a year. That last year of college was a wonderful year for Kathryn. She was a normal college student and that is just what she wanted to be. Even though her brother drove her home every two weeks for treatment she was able to enjoy the college life. I’m so thankful. The treatment had improved and she had fewer side effects than she had the first time.
Research has come a long ways. More Birthdays are celebrated. More children are living. But we still have a ways to go. My beautiful daughter was finally taken by cancer on February 2nd 2012 just three days short of her 21st birthday.
We must continue the fight and look to methods that don’t cause secondary cancers as radiation and chemotherapy can. We need to support research for gene therapy, immune therapy and vaccines. The work is in the process and some day - some day it will all come together and all cancers will have high success rates. No one will be told you have 3 to 6 months to live. No doctor will have to say we are only doing palliatative care because there is no cure. It will happen and with every passing year our scientist are learning how to control and cure different types of cancer.
So keep up the good work that you are doing. The support of patients and the support for research depends on people like you.
Let me know what you think.