Keeping the faith
Katie Belle Cooley was diagnosed with leukemia in February. She was just eight months old.
“When something like this happens, you just have to turn to God, and take it one day at a time,” says mom Karen. “It’s the only way you can get through it.”
Breaking the isolation
Early on, Karen’s sister set up a CaringBridge site for the family. “It’s been a real life saver,” says Karen. “If we had to call everyone with updates, we would spend every minute on the phone.”
CaringBridge has also become a vital source of connection for Karen. Katie Belle’s immunity is low, which means the Cooleys can’t allow a lot of visitors.
“It can feel very isolating,” Karen explains. “Getting a message in the guestbook and hearing that someone is thinking about you makes a big difference.”
Most of the families the Cooleys have met in the cancer unit at Greenville Memorial Hospital also have CaringBridge sites.
“We use CaringBridge to encourage each other, and share our experiences,” says Karen. “Those other parents become your life–line. You can talk more openly with them, because they’re going through the same thing.”
Since Katie Belle’s diagnosis, the Cooleys have become involved in the National Marrow Donor Program. They will help sponsor a donor registration drive at their church in May as part of the NMDP “Thanks Mom” campaign.
“If chemo doesn’t work for Katie Belle, bone marrow transplantation will be our second line of defense,” says Karen. “It feels important to help raise awareness about the need for donors.”
The Cooleys were already familiar with the National Marrow Donor Program. Karen’s brother–in–law donated bone marrow to a patient in Florida 10 years ago.
“He literally saved someone’s life,” says Karen. “How often do you get that opportunity?”