CaringBridge Is Funded by People Like You

Make a donation to CaringBridge

Honor Katie with a tax-deductible contribution to CaringBridge today.

Click here to make your donation.

Katie’s Story

Prayers are being answered! Above all...continue to pray!Catherine (Katie) Hawley is a happy, outgoing, athletic and very spiritual 9 year old girl. She has always been able to comfortably walk into a room of strangers and ask the first person she sees if they would like to play. At a very young age she led our family in prayer at the dinner table.

At age 4 she started playing AYSO soccer with me (her dad) coaching her. Coaching my daughters was one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had as a father. Katie excelled, so at age 6 we decided to enroll her in a competitive club soccer program with the Southern California Blues.

In Jan/Feb of 09 during the Blues run for the California State Championship, we noticed a slight difference in her energy level but dismissed it as her just needing a break for a few weeks. During that time I also noticed her struggling to keep her feet under her. She appeared to labor to get up to speed and she seemed to have lost some of her quickness. Again, I dismissed it due to her recent growth spurt.

In the spring of 09 her club team took a much needed 2+ month break after they lost in the GU9 State Championship game. In this "off-season" period for the Blues, she continued to play soccer for the Ladera Ranch AYSO GU10 Plus team. That team won the championship for south Orange County and the end of season Area Tournament. At the same time, Katie worked out at an indoor conditioning facility.

During the early summer months her club team played in several soccer tournaments. Before the first Surf Cup tournament game on Saturday morning July 25th Katie threw up. About 2 days prior, Katie had complained about some minor but persistent abdomen pain. We thought she might have the flu, but she felt better after throwing up so we let her play. She was just not herself. She sat out during the 2nd game Saturday afternoon only to wake up on Sunday morning feeling better and wanting to play again.

Then the following Monday, July 27th, I decided to take her in to the local Urgent Care facility to get examined. Thank God for the perceptive Physicians Assistant that saw Katie named Michelle B. She just didn't think things seemed right and ordered an abdominal x-ray and ultrasound. The ultrasound showed a "mass" near Katie's stomach area so a CT scan was ordered for the next day. The result was further confirmation of the existence of the tumor.

This was the most shocking and devastating news MaryKay and I had ever heard. We cried during and in between making the calls to our family to tell them. At this point we did not know if the tumor was cancerous.

Another parent on Katie's soccer team had connections into the medical community.  That parent's name is Curt Wasserman and I will forever be in debt to him. Through his actions, and those of our new friend Len Shulman, we were immediately connected to Dr. Cairo in NY. Dr. Cairo is a world renowned leader in Oncology. He was on a speaking engagement in
Texas but offered his contact information to us, perfect strangers to him, so he could assist. He guided us to Dr. Marcio at CHLA, who is also a widely recognized "world expert" in Pediatric solid tumors. Dr. Marcio agreed to see Katie the next day, Friday, July 31st. That day, we were introduced to Dr. Stein, the leading pediatric surgeon at CHLA.

On August 5th, 2009, she underwent surgery to remove the tumor that was causing her abdominal pain. During surgery, it was determined that the tumor was malignant. Katie was diagnosed with Stage 3, High Risk, GanglioNeuroblastoma, nodular cancer. The egg-sized tumor growing from her right adrenal gland and the adrenal gland itself were removed as were 2 of Katie's lymph nodes. Cancer remained in her abdomen and she began chemotherapy treatments at CHLA on August 11th under the care of Dr. Araz Marachelian who we have the utmost confidence in.

In all, Katie has had 4 surgeries, 6 cycles of Chemotherapy, Stem Cell Chemotherapy, 12 rounds of Radiation, 5 rounds of ch14.18 and high doses of Accutane. She was declared N.E.D. (no evidence of disease) in December of 2009 and remains that way today.

Life has dealt us this unexpected and incredible challenge.  With your prayers, and God's Good Grace, we will continue to overcome this.  Please keep Katie in your prayers.

Latest Journal Update


Driving home this rainy afternoon with Melanie, we were both awe stuck by a beautiful rainbow. I can't remember the last time I had seen one so close, so vibrant, so HUGE!! But then I did remember, it was in February 2010 - Katie was on her 22nd day of her 27th day in isolation up at CHLA. Katie's nurse called me to the window, a double rainbow literally hovered over the entire children's hospital. It brought me hope. Today, once again seeing this sign from God, brought me hope.
With my girls rushing around studying for finals, and Katie preparing for her Winter Formal, I almost forgot she had an appointment today. It is amazing how our 'new' normal.. is now just our 'normal normal'.

The doctor was a little concerned how gaunt Katie looked?? (don't panic Aunt Shelly - she is fine!) ~ her counts are low - though if you had peaked in the window five minutes ago, you would have never guessed by the way the TWO of us were rocking out to JT and though she drinks nothing but water, her blood work showed she was dehydrated. Other then that, she is ok. 

Finally, the third party's results came back on Katie's scans - it is official, she does NOT have cancer. I think we all knew that months ago, when Jesus led me to the imprint of Katie's name in the cement. However, we are still in limbo regarding what's next. The 1418 study, that was suggested to us weeks ago is now full...which means maybe another month of chemo.. ugh! Or ~ back to New York? Bob will put a call in tomorrow to see if the Sloan team will now accept Katie as a candidate, since the results have once again been deemed clear? 

I'd like you all to stop for a moment and pray for this family tonight. they lost their precious daughter yesterday to cancer. The reality of this horrible disease is always present. I have no words to how much my heart aches for this family... to all the families who have had to let go to soon.

A reminder to me... to love harder, to forgive easier, to not waste a single day.
Last year my scripture for the year was, Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God"
This year it's 1 Corinthians 13:4 - 7

Love is patient
Love is kind;
does not envy
Love does not boast
Love is
 not arrogant
Love is not
Love is not self seeking;
Love is not easily angered
does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
my beliefs don't make a better person, my behavior does... and I am working on that, by the grace of God!

Good nite my sweet friends... 

15 people hearted this



Janice Spillan
By Janice Donohue Spillan
Tears of joy for Katie's good news! My heart is touched with every message you write, MK. Keep writing -- it's your gift! God bless and comfort Marissa's family.
Liza LaCasse
By Liza
Love never fails. <3
The news about the third party confirmation is awesome!! My prayer is that you all will be guided to that next step, be it Sloan or elsewhere, and have peace in that next part of the journey.
My heart breaks and I pray peace and comfort for the family who lost their daughter. Bill and I lost a friend to bowel cancer earlier this week. She was 49 and it was not detected in time. Our hearts are broken.
1 person hearted this
Eileen Gibson
By Eileen
Oh my goodness! Exciting news! Praying continually for sweet Katie and for your path.
1 person hearted this