Katie is the head orchestra director at Memorial Middle School and Oscar Howe Elementary in Sioux Falls, SD. She is a passionate and fun teacher that cares deeply for her students.
Here is an update from Katie - July 15, 2018
GoFundMe Update July 15, 2018
Hey Everyone! I know it has been a while since I have posted an update! I hope you are all having a great summer! It is crazy to believe that back-to-school-supplies are already available and the 2018-19 school-year is just around the corner! I will be back to work full-time at Memorial teaching orchestra this fall! (=
Today/tonight marks a “special” day if you could call it that. On this day one year ago, July 15, 2017, I had my car accident between 10-10:30pm when I woke up in the beanfield on my way back to Nebraska and didn’t remember a thing…so this was likely my first big seizure and I didn’t even know it.
This is how I remember it…one year later.
1) It was dark.
2) I realized I was in someone’s bean field somewhere and didn’t know how I got there, how long I had been there, how the car was in park, or what direction I was facing.
3)Turbo, my cat, was ok and still in his cat-carrier next to me in the passenger seat.
4) I realized I needed to get home.
5) I called my mom and sister telling them where I was and that I was on my way home (my sister and I were caravanning home and I was in the lead – she made it home before me and I was not there. Apparently, they and my boyfriend, had been trying to call me for quite some time as I should have been home.
6) I called my boyfriend and told him where I was and he talked to me all the way home (we were on the phone when our conversation “cut out”, or so we thought, as I was driving in some hills where the cell phone reception is sketchy. Little did we know I very likely had a seizure and my boyfriend remembers the eerie noise I made before the phone conversation “ended”.)
7) I turned the car around thinking I could get out the way I came in, but that wasn’t working (I felt I was driving deeper into the field!) so I turned around and just started driving until I got to the fence line.
8) I made a right turn at the edge of the field in the hopes of just finding a way out of the field and onto a road, any road
9) After driving parallel to the fence line for a bit, I finally found an opening and made my way to a gravel road and used my phone and the Mapquest App to help me get back to Highway 81 to get back to Creighton, NE.
10) I got home and my mom and I investigated my car to find a lot of bean-leaf debris under my car and a large scrape-mark along the front drivers-side headlight and front piece of the vehicle that was likely there due to hitting a barbed-wire fence (I didn’t remember even driving off the road let alone remember hitting a fence!)
My mom and sister thought I was acting strange when I got home…as in a “happy drunk” sort of way…and just kind of out of it. We all talked it up to me being in shock after driving off the road and waking up in a bean field as we thought I “fell asleep at the wheel” due to some allergy/antihistamine medication I was on at the time. I felt fine, but just tired so we went to bed.
I did follow-up with my primary care doctor and we both agreed that I likely did fall asleep and didn’t pursue any medical follow-up from there.
Fast-forward about 4 months later to Monday, November 6, 2017 – I just got home from teaching school (4-8 orchestra) and parked my car in my garage. I walked into the house and into the kitchen. My boyfriend, so sweetly, was there waiting for me (we had plans for that evening…of what, I do not remember…likely just to make and have dinner together). I was putting my dirty lunch dishes in the dishwasher and turned to hug my boyfriend.
Next thing I know I am being loaded into an ambulance in front of my house!
I had suffered a grand-mal seizure during the hug. My boyfriend told me later that my face contorted, muscles contracted, eyes rolled back into my head, I foamed at the mouth, and I made that same eerie sound he heard over the phone back in July.
Who knew this/these seizure(s) would lead to:
1. My inability to drive for 6 months from the seizure
2. The discovery of and surgery for Anaplastic Pleomorphic Xanthroastrocytoma Grade 3 Brain Cancer
3. A referral to Mayo Clinic for treatment
4. A 2ndbrain surgery on February 12, 2018 for 2 burr holes drilled at the top of the right side of my head to relieve/drain a subdural hematoma before radiation treatment could start (hematoma formed likely as a result of the first surgery where the missing brain matter caused that right side of the brain to collapse down a bit)
5. A Mayo ER visit 2 days later on February 14, 2018 due to burr-hole-surgery pain
6. a TREMENDOUS and very public fight with my health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield against the 3 denials for my Mayo-doctor-recommended Pencil-beam Proton Radiation Therapy( in combination with a ½ dose of chemotherapy using the drug, Temodar @ 130mgs for 6 weeks/30 treatments of Proton)
7. Eventual approval, with the help of a WONDERFUL local Sioux Falls attorney, for Proton Therapy on February 26, 2018 **started 1/2 -dose chemo that night and 1stround of Proton was Feb 27, 2018.
8. The inability to return to work for the remainder of the school-year
My last day of ½-dose chemo was April 9, 2018 and my last Pencil-beam Proton Radiation Treatment was April 10, 2018.
I started full-dose chemo in May 2018 – May 10-14 @ 250mgs Temodar, June 12-16 @ 340mgs Temodar (I also suffered another seizure on this day that put me in the ER and another 3-6 months without the ability or license to drive), and will start my July chemo tomorrow, July 16-20 @ 300mgs Temodar.
Through all of this, I am still going strong, but I could not do it every day with out the constant supportfrom you who are reading this update, my amazing Avera and Mayo doctors and surgical teams, my boyfriend, my boyfriend’s family, my family, friends, coworkers, work administration, perfect strangers, band mates, music, other cancer patients I met while at Mayo and people I have sang/played for there, my cat, faith, positive attitude, prayers from so many people and will to fight and live!!
Thank you all for EVERYTHING! I still have short-term memory and focus troubles, but all-in-all, am hanging in there. Your continued support of my healing for so many facets in my life - medically, emotionally, spiritually, and monetarily - has been so humbling and I am forever grateful!! It takes so much love and support to work one’s way through a life-changing diagnosis like this and so much change has happened in my life already!
My hair is slowly growing back in my surgery areas and it is great to see that “peach fuzz” coming back in. I have enjoyed my half-head-of-hair haircut these past months, however!!! We will see if I keep it that way for a while longer or not! (o;
I have met so many people throughout this journey and it has been quite humbling as I have said before. I am so lucky and blessed to have you on my side cheering me on!
None of us are promised tomorrow so we MUST make each day the best it can be.I have positive affirmations placed throughout my house that I ready daily as I go about my day such as,
“You never know how strong you are until strong is your only choice”
“ Today is a great day for a great day”
“ Positive things happen to positive people”
“Life is better when you’re laughing”
“Be your own kind of hero”
“If you stumble, make it part of the dance”
“ Never give up…EVER!” (thanks for sending me this one, Paul and Sydney!)
“Be a voice, not an echo”
“Live in the moment, enjoy the little things, and love beyond words”
“Make this moment count”
“YOU GOT THIS!”
“Don’t quit your day dream”
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”
“Do what makes your soul shine”
“Enjoy life now. This is not a rehearsal”
and my most recent favorite, “ACCEPT what is, LET GO of what was, and HAVE FAITH in what will be.”
Please continue to share my story if you can and help others WHENEVER and HOWEVER you can! Each “little help” adds up to be a “big help” in the grand scheme of each person’s individual life and that of all the people in the world. If we all help each other a little, we will make this world a better place for everyone!!
Thank you ALL, SO...VERY...MUCH...FOR...EVERYTHING!
Until next time, don’t forget to tell your loved ones you love them, give your pets some extra hugs and kisses, do something good for a perfect stranger, and go out and LIVE LIFE…really LIVE it!
March 19, 2018
Argus Leader Article
Hey Everyone! Things are going well here at Mayo Clinic here on Rochester, MN. Today marks the mid-part of my 3rd week of treatment so I still have a good 2.5 weeks left. I am trying to heal up from a sinus cold I caught last week and hope it doesn't go into my lungs. I spent much of the time around 3 am coughing last night/this morning.
Appetite has decreased some, but I'm doing my best. No terribly noticeable side-effects from the chemo so that is great! My only noticeable side-effect from radiation is the stinky-burning smell that is all the time and comes in waves...sonetimes stronger, sometimes weaker. It contributes to not being hungry sometimes.. ugh.
The burning small is all in my brain and has nothing to do with my nose. It happens due to a combo of things (I asked): brain still healing from 2 brain surgeries, trauma to the brain, and the very weakest point of the Pencil-beam Proton beam just reaching my sinus cavity/area of the brain that controls smell. If only it could be atleast a campfire smell...that I could do Haha! Then I could eat sooooo many Smores Haha!
I also have short-term memory troubles from a number of things: my 2 seizures (one was likely this summer), tumor removal surgery, and trauma to the brain in that area in general through all of this as well as inflammation from radiation. I was told this could happen. I am hopeful that will all get better as I continue to heal!! So, if I ask you the same question a few times, it's not because I wasn't listening...its because I legitimately forgot your answer haha! I have to write a lot of things down!
Thank you all for EVERYTHING! Your continued support of my healing medically, emotionally, spiritually, and monetarily has been incredible!! It really does take a village, town, city...to work through a life-changing diagnosis like this! I still shake when people kindly ask me about my scar and I have to tell them I have incurable, forever... brain cancer.
I have met so many people while being here going through the same fight and it is quite humbling. I am so lucky and blessed to have you on my side cheering me on! Please continue to share my story if you can!
Also, if you are needing some music in your weekends, my wonderful Sioux Falls Orchestra Staff and music colleagues are putting on a benefit concert for me at 2pm on April 7, 2018 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sioux Falls! AND, another benefit show is happening at The Remedy in Sioux Falls on May 19, 2018 put together by Laura Cooper, my orchestra colleague, and Casey Monger and his band Doppelgarten, Jami Lynn ( Jami Buttke), and Josh Rieck ...and friends!! I sense some good jamming to happen!!!
I am VERY MUCH hoping to fiddle and sing as much as I can for both events!! In April, I'll be in week 5 of 6 for treatments here at Mayo with the chemo/radiation combo and in May, I'll be doing that 1st week of 6 months (1 week a month for 6 months) of full-dose chemo. My ability to play/be there will depend on if my immune system is strong enough to be out and about and I have the stamina to do it. By golly, I'll sure be there as much as I possibly can!! I can't miss out on all of this up-coming wonderful music being put together on my behalf!! Wow, I'm so humbled and blessed!
Thank you ALL, SO...VERY...MUCH...FOR...EVERYTHING!
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