Katie had been going through a particularly rough patch of rebellion a couple years ago after her father had passed away suddenly. Her worried mom, Heather, became hopeful for her daughters future when a strange series of events led to Katie being selected for Top Model Search Canada. After a couple wonderful weeks in Toronto together, Heather believed things were looking up for Katie as she was now more focused on school and getting life back on the right track.
However, after returning from Toronto, Katie was struck by a number of viruses that she just couldn’t shake. Trying her best to get to school, there was one morning she simply couldn’t summon the energy to get out of bed. When strange bruises started to appear, Heather took Katie to the doctor who ordered a number of different blood tests. Since it was Thanksgiving weekend, they thought they might wait until the following Tuesday, but on Sunday, Katie woke up with an alarming bruise in her mouth. A trip to urgent care in Cochrane led to an ambulance ride to the Alberta Children’s Hospital which led to a diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. As they were given the news, it was almost too much to bear for a family who had already suffered so much hardship.
Katie began treatment immediately and, as she will be quick to tell you, if there was a complication to be had, she had it. Massive infections that required several courses of IV antibiotics had her in hospital for months. Home for just a week, Katie suffered a massive seizure in the middle of the night as a result of a blood clot in her brain. (Thankfully she had been sleeping with her mother that night or the outcome could have been even more devastating.) A side effect of one of the drugs she takes causes her toe nails to become ingrown and split. Already prone to infection due to being immunosuppressed, she’s had to have two painful surgeries to fix her toes. As if that’s not enough, her treatment requires her to take steroids which have given her diabetes which requires insulin to manage. (Insert hearty sigh here!)
In September 2016, Katie finally entered the maintenance phase of her treatment after many delays due to complications. She takes chemo at home and comes to the hospital once a month for chemo through her central line and a spinal tap. Slowly, she’s reintegrating with friends and school activities.
She’s very philosophical when she reflects on her cancer journey. She believes she went through this for a reason. Cancer changed the path of her life…and while it has been very painful at times, in many ways it has changed her for the better and she credits the care at the hospital for helping her turn her life around.
To hear more stories like this or to donate to the 2017 Caring for Kids Radiothon in support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation visit www.KidsRadiothon.com