As I move through the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Series, I am continually amazed by the stories of each person who decides to walk 60 miles in three days. Each one has evoked my personal admiration and awe. The Seattle 3-Day was no exception. It was difficult to miss Katie K from North Bend, Washington, not because her recent need to use a wheelchair sometimes, but because there were so many of her smiling friends who pushed her and supported each other, all on their first 3-Day®. When asked how they managed the hills, one teammate said, “We figured out that if we stood behind each other in a line, it was easy!”
“They aren’t my friends…They are my sisters,” said Katie. “They have been there for me through all of this and even before. They took me in and made me feel loved when I knew nobody. They have looked after my daughter when I have been rushed into hospital, they have driven me to appointments, they have sat with me when I didn’t want to be alone, they have brought me dinners when I am too tired to cook or feel like I am dying after chemo, they have covered for me at work, they have held my hand when all I need is to feel safe. Anything and everything I need, they are there for me! That’s not something you find every day in a person. That is God’s Love!”
ABOUT ME AND MY STUPID CANCER
“I am 34 years young and was born in a town outside of West London called Hounslow in England. I had an amazing upbringing with two extremely loving, caring parents who would drop everything for me.” Katie describes meeting her future husband, Jason, at Heavenly on a ski trip for work. “I managed to win him over, and we married exactly one year after we met in Monterey, California.” After their most wonderful little blessing, Kayle was born, they moved to North Bend, Washington, and never looked back.
“I had found a lump in my right breast when Kayle was one-year old. I had recently stopped breast feeding, and I lost my health insurance when we moved to Washington, so I went to see a doctor for cash who told me it was just a blocked milk duct or cyst and that I should just ‘keep an eye on it.’”
“We had just celebrated Kayle’s 2nd birthday and everything was fine, until I found a 2nd lump right next to the first lump. I went back to the same doctor, and she ordered an urgent mammogram, which turned into a urgent ultrasound, which turned into a biopsy needed to confirm the cancer. We didn’t have insurance, and I wanted to be with my family, so we packed up our house, got my husband a visa and headed back to England. I had six months chemotherapy, a double mastectomy with reconstruction, and radiation and was given the ‘all clear.” After being ‘cleared,’ the family returned to Washington, and everything seemed fine until a routine screening in 2012 when she found out the cancer had metastasized.
Katie was devastated. “This meant that there was no longer a ‘cure’ for my cancer and that it was going to be a case of management from then on. As you can imagine, ‘scared’ wasn’t a good enough word to describe how I felt.”
After so much news over the next year and with the 3-Day looming, Katie was to have yet another challenge. “Two weeks before the 3-Day, my family and I decided to have a quiet day on the sofa catching up with TV shows,” said Katie. “My legs went numb from the knees down and I couldn’t walk. An MRI showed that I had a large lesion in my spinal cord that was causing my legs to stop working. Because of the amount of swelling in my spinal cord, my doctor decided to admit me to the hospital…3 days before the 3-Day! I was devastated, again! The thought of not being able to do the walk was too much for me! After talking to my doctors and the 3-Day organizers, we made some changes to our plan, and all agreed that I could walk.” Walk. Roll. Push. Push each other. Team The Faithful Fighters did all of the above. As they rolled out of Gasworks Park on a rainy Sunday morning on Day 3 and with at least ten miles to go, I noticed two things. First, they considered themselves a team over all else. Everyone moved together with no thought of splitting up or leaving someone behind. Second, they were always happy.
ONTO THE 3-DAY
“How did I find out about the 3-Day? A TV advert,” responded Katie. “I have wanted to do the walk for a few years, since we lived in California, but the thought of raising that much money was always so overwhelming. Once I was told my cancer was no longer curable, it changed things. I wanted to walk so that my precious Kayle Lily wouldn’t have to deal with this stupid disease, so that no other child will lose their mother for no reason, so that no other mother goes to bed scared and worried about leaving her child, so that no other husband loses his wife! And so I called my friend, Carrie, who I knew would want to walk too and she agreed. We would walk!”
“We called another friend to tell her about our excitement and from there, our idea spread! Before we knew it, there were eight of us and almost $18,000 to raise! We created a blog and spread the word.”
“If I could pass on a message to the world, there would be a few. First, God is good. Give Him a chance! Second, don’t take your time on the planet for granted! God only promises us today and that could be taken away in a heartbeat! Love your family and friends. Show them grace and forgiveness because your last words could come when you least expect it.”
“Third, life is complicated. It’s hard! No one said life would be easy. God doesn’t promise an easy life. He tells us that life will be hard, but with His help, support and love, we can get through the difficult times and help others in the process of helping ourselves. Lastly, appreciate your time with loved ones. House cleaning, laundry, work, TV, computers, Facebook. It shouldn’t come before spending time with our loved ones. Put down your cell phone, and go and draw with your daughter, go play dress up with her, do face painting together, go do something silly and laugh with friends.”