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Kate’s Story

Thank you for following our daughter Kate's journey. We ask for your prayers during this incredibly difficult time.

Monday June 29th, 2009 was supposed to be a day filled with summer fun. The kids and I were going to the water park to celebrate summer. However, I noticed that a slight tremor in her right hand that had developed over the past few days had notably worsened. We decided to take her to her Pediatrician, just for safe measure. A CT of Kate's head was ordered. We proceeded to Phoenix Childrens Hospital for a stat CT of her head. That evening I, Kate's mom, was taken into a room alone and told Kate had a large tumor on the left temporal lobe of her brain. The world seemed to stopped for us that day, but our long journey had just began. Kate was directly admitted to the PICU. One minute thoughts of the water park the next our child is critically ill in the intensive care unit awaiting emergent brain surgery within a matter of days.  We would have never chosen to be a part of this journey with childhood cancer, but it was chosen for us, and our sweet Kate. She is now in the Phoneix Children's Hospital undergoing treatment for this disease.

Kate underwent a craniotomy with tumor resection on July 3rd, 2009. They unfortunately were only able to remove 50% of the tumor due to it's location in the left temporal lobe of her brain and the fact that the tumor had wrapped itself around the left middle cerebral artery to her brain. Kate experienced right sided paralysis immediately following surgery along with the loss of her speech. She has since regained much of this, however her right sided weakness still continues. 

After a few days of intense waiting the pathology report was in, Kate was diagnosed with a very malignant, aggressive brain tumor called a supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumor or sPNET. Our hearts felt broken. Long term prognosis and outcomes weren't encouraging so Kate has been put on a study that is showing a little more promising outcomes, hopefully a better chance at survival and less long term side effects. She is currently undergoing the Head Start 3 Study out of Los Angeles but doing it at Phoenix Children's Hospital. The study involves the initial brain surgery, 5 round of very intense chemotherapy with possibility of a subsequent brain surgery and then another round of chemo with a stem cell transplant. We are hoping to avoid radiation after transplant. Kate is also in physical therapy and occupational therapy and has been released from speech therapy.

We believe strongly in the power of prayer and the ability of Jesus to heal our precious daughter. We are asking others to join us on this journey and fervently pray for our Kate. The road is long and unbelievably hard. We have 3 children, all who are intensely affected. Olivia is now 7, Kate is 5 and Will is 4. Please keep all of us in your prayers as we try to walk this journey of childhood cancer. Thank you. 

As of September 29th Kate was readmitted to begin her 3rd round of chemo. She will be hospitalized for the entire round.

January of 2010 Kate finished her 5th round of chemotherapy. Her subsequent MRI showed there was still residual cancer remaining. She was then admitted on February 8th for her "consolidation" phase of chemotherapy with an autologous stem cell transplant. This equated to 1 years worth of chemotherapy in 6 days.

Due to the residual cancer prior to transplant Kate then needed to undergo brain radiation. We temporarily moved to Houton, Texas for 2 months so Kate could undergo 31 treatments of proton beam radiation to the tumor bed.

Kate finished radiation on May 24th, 2010 which finished her treatment for the Head Start 3 Study. June 29th, exactly one year from her diagnosis, Kate had her first MRI post treatment which was inconclusive. She followed it with a PET scan one month later which showed no definitive signs of cancer! 13 months of prayers. And one scan showing no cancer!

Kate had another scan early September 2010 which again left us guessing. There was a new spot that appeared on the MRI. We are currently waiting for another MRI to see if this is merely treatment changes, vascular changes etc, or the return of cancer.

On February 1st, 2011 a routine MRI discovered that the brain cancer had indeed returned and metastasized. Options for treatment were few. And the prognosis was awful at best. Few ever survive its return. And yet.... we continue to pray for healing. 

Please continue to pray as we journey alongside our daughter.

Latest Journal Update

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Kate continues to remain on less medication, which has further allowed for us to see just how medicated she was before. She could barely hold her head up some days after it would all take effect. The color would drain from her face and she'd shake her head trying to wake herself from it's horrible grasp. We continue to remain thankful that the right specialist, the time inpatient, more accurate diagnosing, and God's clear guidance allowed for her to be taken off two of those heavy hitters with no repercussions. Just more life. And she has continued to have no signs or symptoms of seizures. This is no small thing. I had no idea what families suffered as they struggled with these. The never knowing, and days constantly and unexpectedly interrupted. The ambulance rides. And the thick frustration of not knowing what was what. So to have reprieve from them feels a huge sort of victory, a freedom. We are not naive to the reality that they could reappear at any time. But I treasure the time not dictated by them. 

Kate is finishing up her 17th round of chemo. That just sounds like 17 too many honestly. It has been incredibly hard. But it's been hard together, with her. Not in the present absence of her. And I think of mamas for whom cancer has caused absence. Unimaginable grief. And I beg God to not allow the pain to cause me to miss her being present. That I don't get so busy in the managing of disease that I am not present for the journey of hard. 

With the relapse came the canceling of her orthopedic surgery. Any urgency to strengthen her right leg paled in comparison to the realities recurrent cancer brought. And we never went back. The last few months we were urged to return, and reevaluate our situation, as we are constantly in the business of doing. Conscientiously, the surgeon listened to us review the last year and nearly half. I saw him look at Kate so gently and wondered if it was the ache of a father I saw in his eyes. He gently told us it wasn't time for us to pursue the surgery yet, as she had presently quite enough on her plate. But he would be there for us, if and when the time was right. I think we all felt the real struggle, knowing she was in uncharted waters. So it is hard for anyone to estimate what the days ahead might hold. But we were collectively relieved that for now it wasn't another surgery. Instead we decided we need to plan a vacation. I'll take that any day. 

SO the Christmas drive. I just can't say thank you enough. In a journey that feels full of loss it is one of those things that feels like life being breathed into the barren. Thank you for making it happen. And your willingness to enable Kate to pursue what her heart feels deeply. You collectively sent in over $95,000! Yes. $95,000 in gift cards and online donations. All of which will continue to go to other families facing the new and daunting reality of pediatric brain cancer, or the painful in-betweens of fighting for life amidst it, and for some the end of life heartaches. We sent them out to various states, and many here locally. Locally, we had the privilege of working with a social worker who enabled us to find countless families whose story few knew. Who suffered in silence and deep financial need. Who often rode busses to oncology appointments and struggled with various basic needs. One story I couldn't shake. One single mom had experienced far too much hard. And now to watch her girl suffer brain cancer. The broken places can harden. The pain be misinterpreted. She, I'm sure, is often misinterpreted. With the gift came tears that no one had seen previously. And the confession that no one, in her life, had ever done anything like this for her. Lot's of years of hard living. And no one. It was like someone finally saw her, even if it was a young girl, facing hard of her own. Someone saw her humanness. And that met our own ache. It's not just the financial gift you gave. Many days it was the gift of acknowledging they were seen. Not overlooked. It so often can be such an ugly journey....tears more than my heart can handle many days. Thank you for bringing beauty to the barren. And because of the generosity we will continue to send out packages this winter and spring. A surprise for those fighting. Or maybe just a small, momentary reprieve. Again, we are so thankful that you would do this alongside our girl. 
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Comments

186 Comments

debbie hillyer
By Bob and Debbie Hillyer
Continuing to pray for precious Kate and your family, in Colorado!
Bethany Lovegrove
By Bethany Lovegrove
Love hearing from you and about the Christmas drive. Praying.
Lia Gyore
By Lia Gyore
I am grateful for such positive news and continue to pray.
Tisha Hollosy
By Tisha Hollosy
💞
Jo & Greg Bowman
By Bowman's
We continue to pray for Kate and your whole family. How much you have been through. what wonderful news that Kates dream has blessed so many hearts. God is truly watching over such a great family.
remember you are always in our prayers
Scott K
By Scott K
So many great comments. How can one add more, but to continue to pray for Kate and her wonderful family. What an amazing young lady she is.
God watch over you all, shower you with blessings and keep you strong.
Anna Baugh
By Anna Baugh Nashville Tennessee
God bless you and your family. I'm so glad Kate is seizure free and pray she stays that away. S always you are all in my prayers.
Sandi Coyer
By Sandi Coyer
Dear McRae Family,
Thank You for giving us an update on Kate. Helps us to pray more effectively regarding Kate and family members in our continued prayers on this long, hard, hurting journey. Thank You for sharing Kate's Crazy Christmas update as well. Tears for the amount raised, tears for the families who received helped. I need to you to know how grateful I am in your stewardship of this money and the working with a Social Worker and the continued people that will be helped. Thank You Kate for caring for others in the midst of your own trauma and pain. God must be so very proud of you!
Lovingly ♥
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Cheryl & Al Balogh
By Cheryl & Al
Thank you for staying in touch so we know how to pray for Kate & each of you. We are so grateful to know about the Christmas drive. Amazing!
Glenda Kremer
By Glenda Kremer
I do not know if you saw my post last week--Kate's picture that her Grandma Shirlee sent me with Pray for Kate bracelets. I love seeing beautiful Kate every time I sit at my kitchen table or just walk by! I have prayed for her for so long I feel like she is part of my family! Love her so much! Prayers continue every morning and each time up at night!
love and prayers from Ohio!
glenda