Racing Against Time

Greetings to all on the Catie journey,

Today our focus and attention turn to racing. At the Mechanicsburg High School today over 300 souls braved the wind and the rain to walk and run in support of Catie. The “Catie Fun Run” brought out family, friends, and runners of all ages and skills from as far away as Virginia to run in the 5K race or walk in the 1 mile fun walk. Volunteers were on hand at 6am making preparations, and the committee which had been meeting since August and led spiritually by Fr. Snyder, and logistically by the Knight of Columbus of St. Joseph’s pulled off a great event that many of the runners praised as one of the best run events they had experienced. M.E., our 2 year old started the runners and walkers on their way with an emphatic “GO!” through a bullhorn, and the leaders were back from the road portion of the race in a scant 18 minutes, (approximately the same time it took me to walk across the parking lot). Each of the “fab 5” handed out medals to the top runners in each of the age groups and did a good job of thanking many. Catie and Mia’s Brownie troops walked as a group with their purple “Catie’s Team” shirts and a girl’s soccer team with red “Catie’s Team” shirts all ran together. Thank you to all who took on the course, the weather, and the challenge of stepping up to help and run a race against the clock.

Catie is racing against time in her own way right now. When I returned from St. Jude’s last night, I thought back over the last 5 months and reflected not only on the blessing that Catie is still alive and that events like the “Catie Fun Run” are not memorial events, but on what this little 7 year old has lost in the short 5 months. From a physical standpoint, it is readily apparent that in addition to her hair, Catie has lost 20% of her pre-cancer weight and while many in the country may be fighting obesity, Catie was and is not among them. She has lost a good deal of her mobility, stamina, flexibility, and strength. Gone is her athleticism that even as late as September had her hanging and climbing on jungle gyms. Gone also is the ever-present smile and spirit. When cancer struck our daughter, it caused her pain and three weeks of sleeplessness. The surgery to remove the tumor relieved the pain and she was as good as new within 2 weeks. What has taken the toll is not the disease, but the cure. In our attempts to save her life and give her a chance at seeing not only her 8th birthday, but her 18th and 28th as well, we have subjected our daughter to a treatment plan that has turned her into a rickety skeleton who cries at the drop of a hat and who would, if left to her own devices sleep the day away to avoid whatever treatments, tests, and struggles presented themselves in a given day.

There is still a spark, a fragment of who this brave little girl has always been that remains untouched by the radiation and the chemotherapy. The “real Catie” still appears often enough to offer hope. The smile still beams through unbidden at times. One meal out of 20 passes with Catie eating, smiling, and finishing without a parent pleading or cajoling. When we first explored treatment options, there was a balance that we accepted between saving her life and recognizing that who she was at the conclusion of the treatment might be someone completely different that who she was at the outset. How will we know until the journey ends whether in saving the child we have lost Catie in the process. With every lost pound and every lost tear we face the results of our decision for her treatment and hope that in this race against time that we finish the cure before we lose our Catie. 5 months ago, when it appeared she might not live to see the New Year, there is nothing I would not have consented to in order to share one last Christmas with my baby. Now that it appears that we will all be blessed to share this Christmas together, I pray that I have not robbed her of a full life because I just wanted her to live.

Please join with me in prayer for Catie and for all of the kids at St. Jude and other facilities where childhood diseases are battled. These kids fight so bravely. Some of them lose the battle before it begins, others fight until they can fight no more and ask to bow out and let the disease claim them. Some battle and survive. And some small percentage, fight and actually win. Please pray that it be God’s will that our Catie not only survives this battle, but wins it. And if God’s plan is somehow better served by another outcome, please pray also for our willingness to accept whatever He has in store for us. We close this prayer update with a word of thanks for the unwavering support and commitment that so many have made to us and a prayer for all of you that God blesses you with people and circumstances that provide you with a clear understanding of His love for you and that you have the good sense to embrace each of those blessings and thank Him and them.

Love and God bless,

Christine, Kevin, Maggie, Max, Catie, Mia, Molly, and M.E.

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