Life is a grab bag of surprises, isn’t it? Some days are an absolute prize. Other days aren’t as winning. On one of those days, she takes a trip to the ER on account of excruciating pain in her hips. She reaches into the bag, and pulls out a piece of paper. She unfolds it to read the message life had sent: Cancer. Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma . The scans show clusters of tumors -- a massive one on her chest, explaining why she’d often become short of breath and the ones in her groin area, culprits of the pain that brought her into the ER. Her brother takes her out for a burger, something normal to temper the shock.
What comes next?
Who is she anyway? She is our sister. She is our mother and father’s daughter. She is a friend, a girlfriend, a beloved. She could be anyone, and she is everything to us. Her name is Katrina.
If you’ve ever had Cancer’s bony little grim-reaper fingers reach out and touch your life, you know that Cancer SUCKS. This story might be a familiar one. If you’re one that’s never gotten the misfortune cookie reading “Cancer,” I have faith in your empathy that you’ll read on.
In the year after her diagnosis Katrina faced a series of tests, scans, biopsies, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. The stories that we’ve heard about cancer started to come true for her. She experienced extreme fatigue, hair loss, a change in taste buds that put her off most foods, and the deterioration of fine motor skills in her hands. She was also in a medically-induced menopause to offset the chance that chemo would make her sterile. Amazingly, she managed to keep her sense of humor. One day, in a chemo hangover daze, she slowly made her way into the kitchen for something to eat. She picked up a kiwi-fruit, looked at it for a second then said, “This is what I feel my head looks like.” She giggled to herself as she put the fruit back into the basket.
In February of 2018, nearly a year after her initial diagnosis, we finally got to celebrate the official news that she was cancer free!!
Transitioning back to “normal life” was the next hurdle. Katrina returned to work on a limited 4-hour work day. Chemo and radiation are rough on the body, and recuperation was an uphill climb after treatment. We in her family saw her face this challenge with patience, courage, and a determination to take back ownership over her life. We’ve all been so proud of her and humbled by the poise with which she walks her journey. With each step, she regains hope for a future full of possibilities.
Fast forward to one year into remission:
A routine CT scans sends up red flags. Follow up tests and a biopsy would confirm that her cancer was in recurrence. For the second time, Katrina was given a diagnosis of Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Her doctors put together a more aggressive treatment plan. It includes four chemotherapy sessions over the course of four months and a stem-cell transplant . Due to the aggressive nature of the fourth chemo treatment and of the stem-cell transplant, she is told she will need hospital stays both times for recovery. She finds herself at Forever 21, buying new headscarves for when she loses her hair again.
As a family, we’re preparing ourselves for the mental and emotional challenges on the road ahead. We all want to do our best to support our Katrina through treatment and recovery. Part of that challenge is facing the the financial strains of taking on cancer for the second time. While insurance will help, we still need to make up a large remainder of the costs. This is why we are reaching out to you and wherever there might be hope for relief. Through cancer and beyond it, we have to believe in those little pockets of life that are truly magical.
We’ve got our arms around Katrina, and our eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re asking for your help to get us there.
Your kind donations will go towards relieving the following costs:
co-pay for doctor’s visits
follow-up CT and PET scans
hospital stays needed for recovery
stem-cell transplant and recovery
fertility plan (egg retrieval)
Her chemotherapy treatment will go from the beginning of June until the end of July. She'll then have a few scans to reassess the state of her cancer before either scheduling more chemo or moving forward with the stem-cell transplant.
Your help means the world to us. We truly appreciate you taking the time to read our story. Please consider taking the next step by clicking below =)