Luminary Speech 6-7-12
Today I finished cleaning and organizing the poke-a-dot room. As I was going through things I found Kathryn’s sketch book. There were so many beautiful sketches. I also found some more of Richard’s artwork. He will be surprised on Saturday to see what I have done.
I hung a lot of the artwork in the upstairs hallway. It turned out great. I have artwork from Richard and Kathryn. From middle school to high school. I’m very pleased and excited for Richard and the rest of the kids to see the display.
I also had to hide all of my sewing stuff. I can’t let Richard see what I am up to.
I was asked to post my speeches. Below you will find the speech that I will be reading at the Luminary Ceremony on Friday night for the Tacoma Relay. I will post the other one tomorrow or the next day. I might run out of time to post anything Friday night.
Good Evening – My name is Carol Bradley and this is my Husband Scott Bradley. We are here to share our story about our daughter Kathryn. We are in a sense cancer survivors.
On March 3rd 1999 at 8 years old Kathryn was diagnosed with a Medulloblastoma (a type of brain tumor). 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 children who had undergone treatment for brain tumors and were no longer able to function at grade level. I also heard about many children who had died from brain tumors. We had friends who finally talked about the children they had lost to brain tumors. There were more people that had lost children to brain tumors than we were aware of.
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. On May 5th 2000 Kathryn completed her final chemo treatment. This was now deamed “No more chemo day.” Kathryn sailed through school as a straight A student. She earned many awards, graduated with honors and was even recognized at Western Washington University with an academic scholarship as she entered her freshman year. She made so many friends and loved life. She went to school dances and proms. She had boyfriends and even had her heart broken. She lived life with zest and a vibrant spirit. She never let cancer get her down. She worked to do all she could to help others with cancer and to help the fight to find a cure.
The research had 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 full and 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 and loved all of the people in her life with a sincere love.
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, sat down and held his hand. She must have known he was feeling down and just needed a friend. There she was to comfort him. She didn’t even really know him at the time.
There is also a young lady who shared how she was touched by Kathryn. She was new to Western and was very home sick. She had called her Mom thinking about coming home. Her Mom encouraged her to get involved in something so she went to a relay committee meeting. She is on the relay committee because Kathryn inspired her. Kathryn shared her story with this young lady. Kathryn welcomed her with open arms and of course her warm smile and big hug. This young lady went home that night after meeting Kathryn and called her Mom to tell her she was ok. She had found her nitch at school through the relay committee and Kathryn.
Kathryn attended Relay for Life starting in 1999. She was on the Mary Bridge Oncology Clinic Team. 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. Which she did up until October of 2011.
The money raised through relay 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 (an Argusy cruise ship) to Seattle and get French fries thrown at them from Red Robin restaurant. 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 to these kids than you will ever know. Kathryn and my son Richard have attended since 2001. They started as campers and became staff members as soon as they were old enough. Kathryn took on her camp name “Panda” once she became part of the staff in 2008. Neither one of them would think of missing camp. Kathryn has inspired several friends to join in and volunteer as staff at camp as well. She also inspired her oncologist to attend camp. He said, “Kathryn got me to do a lot of my firsts, one of which was going to Camp Goodtimes.” She inspired so many people to better their lives through her positive attitude and loving spirit.
Cancer gave Kathryn and our family appreciation for life, family and friends. She lived life to the very fullest because of cancer. She believed in always looking at life as a glass half full never half empty.
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 other families; the one we found at Camp Goodtimes and the one we found through the ACS and other families within our community. What a great gift to find so much love and support.
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 do 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 She was first diagnosed 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. A GBM is the most deadly form of brain cancer. The survival rate… well it doesn’t exist. She tried to come back to school and finish her spring quarter the year but it wasn’t going to happen. Her radiation treatments would interfere and she had missed a couple of weeks due to surgery. She did come back and participate as a committee member in the relay that spring of 2010.
Kathryn didn’t let this get her down. She was determined to be “normal” and that meant going to college and more importantly graduating on time with her friends. She had to drop classes that spring and come home. But she made one class up over the summer and held on to one class and finished it along with a full load in the fall.
The following summer she made up another class. By the end of the summer of 2011 she was on schedule. During the school year of 2010 – 2011 her brother drove her home every two weeks to get treatment in Tacoma. Research and the willingness of two doctors to work together who were on opposite sides of the country gave Kathryn that year of school. She loved being in college and feeling like she was a “normal” college student. This probably would not have happened if the research hadn’t been done, new drugs developed and two doctors working together for a common cause (to save Kathryn). Unfortunately Kathryn’s tumor returned in October of 2011 and deemed in-operable. She asked her doctor how long do I have? He gave her 3 to 6 months.
We sought out alternative treatment in Houston. All this time Kathryn planned her send off – Christmas party. She wanted a chance to say good-bye to all of her family and friends. She wanted to do this while she was feeling good. She did just that. She did not let this cancer take her life. Not the life she was living. She was still alive and she was determined to live her life to the fullest. Her spirit was amazing. She chose to live and not wallow in “feel sorry for me”. She wrote, “one minute upset is 60 seconds wasted.” Kathryn’s party on December 10th 2011 was fabulous!
On February 2nd 2012 just 3 days short of her 21st birthday Kathryn passed away. A peaceful passing after saying good-bye to friends and family. In her room with her family by her side.
We must continue the fight and look to methods that don’t cause secondary cancers as radiation and chemotherapy can and do more often than you know. 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. Twenty year old girls will plan college degrees, graduations, and weddings not send off parties. It will happen and with every passing year our scientists and doctors are learning how to control and cure different types of cancers.
As we take our walk around the track and read the bags that have been specially made for so many people let’s remember. Let’s remember those who have lost their lives to this disease. But also remember the good times we had with them while they were here with us. Let’s remember this fight is still on. Our battle is not over. Let’s remember to keep up our fight so no parent will ever hear again your child has cancer or a doctor having to say there is nothing more that we can do. Let’s remember to keep up this fight so no one, will ever hear you have 3 to 6 months to live. Let’s also remember to support and encourage those who are battling cancer. There is HOPE and new discoveries every day. Never give up, for a CURE is here for some cancers and just around the corner for others. And finally let’s celebrate those who have won the battle. Our survivors!
So keep up the good work that you are doing. The support of patients and the support for research depends on people like you. You are the future. Let’s have more birthdays and less cancer.
Hope you all like it. Good Night