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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

Chapter 283

We are booked and ready for New York. Katie and I take off a week from Sunday, November 9th.

Many thanks to our sweet friend Lisa and family, for making this happen!!!
Our prayer request is that Katie's scans are clear so we can proceed with the next treatment. Monday the 11th, Katie and I will meet with the doctor. A series of scans and test will take place, for the following three days. Once we get the 'all clear', we will return to the hospital on Thursday for the first of many injections. Praying this is the miracle we have been praying for.

Something little I wanted to share about this cancer journey?

I don’t know how to put this in words. 

For those the closest to us, I think it has been the hardest .When Katie was nine and first diagnosed, I really had no idea what to expect.In my heart, I hoped and believed she would beat this and live to 100. Yet, that quiet voice would whisper the nightmarish words, she may not make it to her 10th birthday. With that I became her ‘court jester’ – I wanted to give her the world. I wanted to fill her days with friends and laughter, fun and adventure. Here we are five years later, and I realize, I have to allow her to find her joy on her own, so she can survive until 100. 

Many friends have had to walk away from her, and we don’t blame or resent them. I have been so focused on Katie’s happiness, I didn’t take the time to think how difficult it has been to be the ‘friend’ of the cancer patient. There are times, I’m sure her friends just wanted to climb trees and bounce on trampolines, and all Katie had the energy for was watching tv and lounging on the couch. The drugs robbed Katie of her childhood, her patience, her joy, sometimes even her very soul, and her ability to enjoy the simple giggles of life… when young girls at 13 and 14 just want t be silly and light hearted. There are seasons… a time to laugh, a time to mourn…We have been blessed by so many wonderful friends along the way, who have ‘put up’ with Katie’s mood swings, depression, anger, jealousy and downheartedness. It’s a journey no one asks for. We are daily trying to figure out how to navigate through it. Simply, I want to say to  all those who have spent countless days on the couch with her and those who have come up alongside us to  help carry the cross, thank you, we will treasure your friendship for eternity !!

I hope some of you will still be around when she celebrates her 100th birthday!! 

If I haven't posted this Psalm, I ask that you read it. Katie called me in tears the other day, when her Lord led her to these words. Psalm 88

Lord, you are the God who saves me;
    day and night I cry out to you.
2 May my prayer come before you;
    turn your ear to my cry.

3 I am overwhelmed with troubles
    and my life draws near to death.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am like one without strength.
5 I am set apart with the dead,
    like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
    who are cut off from your care.

6 You have put me in the lowest pit,
    in the darkest depths.
7 Your wrath lies heavily on me;
    you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.[d]
8 You have taken from me my closest friends
    and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
9     my eyes are dim with grief.

I call to you, Lord, every day;
    I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you show your wonders to the dead?
    Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
11 Is your love declared in the grave,
    your faithfulness in Destruction[e]?
12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
    or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

13 But I cry to you for help, Lord;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, Lord, do you reject me
    and hide your face from me?

15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
    I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
    your terrors have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
    they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
    darkness is my closest friend.

Much love,
Mary Kay
16 people hearted this



Richard Janics
By Richard Janics
It's just not fair...especially that we cannot take their place and walk in their shoes during these hard times. No one prepares an adolescent with the wisdom to navigate the emotional rollercoaster ride in relationships that change with cancer; not the victims; not the friends. Some come forward who weren't close before and close friends have mixed responses, especially over time. Your child is then trying to weed out the real ones from the "look at me help the cancer kid" friend. My son began to trust no one and it ate me up inside to see him experience additional pain along with the cancer. Fortunately they are not alone and have someone like you to talk through these things. Much love and prayers!
1 person hearted this
michelle lacy
By michelle lacy
Great Post Mkay - Only true friends and love ones will always stand by Katie and I will be there for her till I draw my last breath!!! I love Katie with all my heart - KEEP THE FAITH!!!!! BIG BIG HUGS I will see you soon in NYC - Love you Aunt Shelly
1 person hearted this
Joyce Lingren
By Joyce Lingren
Many continued prayers for the trip, diagnosis and new treatment plan. May God be with you as you venture once again into the unknown. Your faith will be your stronghold!!!!!!
Love that Psalms
2 people hearted this
Liza LaCasse
By Liza
<3 x a million
2 people hearted this
jill young
By jill young
It is so like God to wake me up at 3:00 am to pray. I had Katie on my heart, my friends at church are so blessed by her service with their young little ones. We were just talking about her recently. She will be missed while in NY, but we are all praying for this to be the miracle. As always, I so appreciate your authenticity and your rawness in all that God is teaching and revealing to you and Katie. XOXO
3 people hearted this
Gail Doyle
By Gail Doyle
Dear Mary Kay, I pray your time in NY will bring good results. I pray that Katie's side effects from treatments are minimal and she wont feel too bad.Thoughts and prayers to you both.
She is a beautiful young lady and DOES have her life ahead and will live to be 100
Love Gail
3 people hearted this