Friday, September 21, 2007

First time for everything, right?

I have been so taken by the blogs that I have read this week that I have started my own. David wonders what I have to talk about. We'll see.

I am 48 years old, a wife and mother of two, with a 14-year old son in 10th grade (David) and a 12-year old daughter (Katie), who would have been starting 7th grade, but who died of cancer on August 16th, 2007. We are still reeling from this. I have been so amazed at the courage and honesty of other "cancer moms" that I wanted to share...whatever comes.

Posted here are photos of our family. You can see us before Katie got sick, at Thanksgiving 2005. Then there are the post-cancer photos: Katie and David were in their cousin's wedding in early August. One week later, Katie's legs became paralyzed due to the tumor on her spinal cord. The next week, she passed away.

The photo of Katie and me (taken at the wedding) is precious to us. With her diagnosis, our family decided to be together as much as possible, because that is what Katie asked us to do. We moved from our home on Puget Sound to Ronald McDonald House in Seattle. I slept in the hospital 5 nights a week; my husband, Gregg slept there on the weekends. David moved from his school to the Hutch School and commuted from the hospital daily. He and I had breakfast together every morning. After school, we had family time. Gregg worked shorter days, and we all had dinner together. We created a family circle around Katie, and would spend the evenings together, talking, watching TV, giving her backrubs, etc. We went through so much together during the past year: 5 rounds of chemo, Katie's 18-hour surgery to remove the tumor, 3 weeks in the ICU, 3 weeks on the surgery floor, and then home in April to try to take up life again on a follow-up drug routine.

Katie and David attended the Hutch School in Seattle until June, and then it was SUMMER at home! They attended Camp Goodtimes on Vashon Island in June, a gift from the American Cancer Society. This was a great experience for them. We also had fun with our cats, walks together, fireworks on the 4th of July, family parties, a beach fire, visits from family and friends.
In July, strange symptoms began to flare up, and we went to Seattle so that Katie could have a scan. The cancer had come raging back, with a large tumor in places that no surgery could remove. It was time to go home and call Hospice. They were wonderful, and helped us to keep Katie as comfortable as possible, at home in her own room, in her own bed, with her own things around her. She was happy at home.

When she passed away on August 16th, Gregg, David and I were all by her side. We told her we loved her. She passed peacefully and gently, by Grace. We are thankful for that.

We think of our friends on the cancer journey with love, and we pray for remission and healing for them. We also pray for their strength and courage and abundant love. We pray for all of those in the world who are suffering, and for those who care for them, that they would feel LOVE and COMFORT. May all of their needs be met through the One Whose name is LOVE.

PS: Wedding photos were taken by Paul Dudley of Paul Dudley Photography, Poulsbo, WA. Thanks, Mooselips!


Stephen and Melanie said...

I'm so glad you decided to do this. Love you guys.

Karla W. said...

Good job on your first post. Don't you love teens? Mandi doesn't "get" why I have a blog either. :)

I love those photos. They are beautiful and really capture the closeness of your family.

Daphne said...

Karen, Gregg & David~Great job on the first blog! We think of your family so often and love the pictures, especially with you and Katie, it is so peaceful. Blessings and love~

jill b said...

What a great first post! We love the pictures of your family. Katie looks so peaceful. Kate was so sad that Katie wouldn't be starting middle school with her. We have made it through the start of school ok so far. Kate is a Tracker and her other good friends are all Blazers, so she only gets to see them in Health/PE, band, and lunch. Kate is going to try to juggle swim team, Girl Scouts, cheerleading, and she wants to do yearbook. What an ambitious schedule! (I hope she can get her homework done)! The first dance is Tuesday, any words of advice for that?
As a mom, I think of you often, and wonder at times how you get through the day, maybe even an hour. Kate's youth group leader helped us put what happened to Katie in perspective by reminding us that maybe what happened to her could help someone else find Him.
We think of you every day and wanted you to know that Kate is working on something special for your family in honor of Katie, but I think it will take awhile. We will keep you posted. She also wants to be a chef someday, and would like to make your family dinner one night at your convenience. Thanks for keeping us posted on how your family is doing, and we'll look forward to hearing how David is doing in tennis. Take care and God Bless.

Nancy A. Irion said...

Thank you for sharing about your family. I work as a volunteer at the UWMC to support families that have a family member or friend undergoing bone marrow or stem cell transplants. I followed Katie's CaringBridge Journal and prayed for Katie and your family. I am amazed at the strength families have going through the experiences of seeing a loved one fighting cancer. Your journal entries were so positive as recounted fun times you had this summer. I rejoiced with you and now you have those memories to treasure. My heart goes out to all of you as you establish a "new normal" for your family. I will take what you blog as insight that can make me a more valuable volunteer.

De said...

Yes, GRACE, is most evident. Thank you, Karen, Cynthia Ellefson

Perri said...

Karen, I have read your blog today for a long time. What a treasure Katie was. The picture of both of you together is so beautiful.

Thank you for sharing her light with the rest of us.