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Natalie’s Story

Welcome to Prayers for Natalie. Please leave messages for Natalie's family and keep them in your prayers.  Thank you and God bless

Natalie's illness began around October of 2008. After having several episodes of extreme migraines and stomach illness, Natalie and her family began seeing what would become a seemingly endless number of doctors. Her team of doctors at George Washington University put her on a week's worth of steroids, but after those failed to help, she was sent to the Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., where she stayed for two weeks in January. After her stay at Children's, Natalie returned home and tried numerous alternative therapies and rehab. At that point, all that was known was that Natalie's cerebellum was inflamed, and that it had produced numerous symptoms, including the following:
~Blurred, double vision;
~Difficulty speaking and swallowing;
~Imbalance, difficulty walking;
~Extreme sensitivity to noise, and
~Weight loss

On March 23, 2009, the day before her 18th birthday, Natalie checked into Johns Hopkins University Hospital, where she stayed until April 17. During her nearly month-long stay at Hopkins, Natalie went through an enormous amount of tests, as her doctors tested for every possible cause of the inflammation. She underwent a total of 3 spinal taps, a PET scan, ultrasounds, and countless CT Scans, MRI's, and blood testing; yet every test came back saying she was perfectly healthy. So her family turned to the last resort: a brain biopsy, which she underwent on April 2nd.

Finally, on April 17, 2009, Natalie and her family received a diagnosis: Natalie has a low-grade, diffused brain tumor, which had been pressing against her cerebellum and causing the inflammation. The plan was for Natalie to undergo five rounds of chemotherapy a month, taking a low-dosage chemo pill, which would allow her to stay at home, while undergoing physical therapy as well.

Natalie's spirits have remained remarkably high throughout the ordeal, and she continues to amaze all those who have been blessed with her presence.

Spring and summer of 2009 was an extremely difficult time for Natalie and her family.  The chemo treatments were halted after just three rounds, as her white blood cell counts became too low and her body could not take any further doses ~ and all looked quite hopeless for a few agonizing months. 

Late summer of 2009, however, Natalie's doctors recommended and administered an astounding twenty rounds of radiation, after which  Natalie experienced a nearly miraculous recovery September 2009 - April 2010.   But then her cancer symptoms slowly started returning and a combination of treatments (including chemo) was attempted during the early-summer months of 2010.  Sadly, her body was not strong enough to continue these treatments - again after just three - and the agonizing reality was that nothing further could be done, other than to manage Natalie's pain.

On Tuesday, August 3, 2010 , dear Natalie lost her incredibly courageous battle.  Her final days were filled with peace and love, as she was surrounded by friends and loved ones at Capital Hospice in Arlington, VA.

Thank you to all who have left messages and prayed for Natalie and her family. Please continue to do so and check back periodically for updates.  (You may also sign up for automatic email notification whenver new Caring Bridge updates are posted.)         Thank you, and God bless.

Latest Journal Update

August 3rd -- united as one

Hello all,

It’s been so very long since we’ve communicated, though I know our individual thoughts are never, ever far away from the Richards family,and that our warm community of Natalie fans will forever be united. 

As we approach the 3rd anniversary of Natalie’s heavenly birthday, Kelly and I wanted to reach out to you all, so we can – once again – be united in our love and remembrances of Nat.  Though it remains, to this day, so tempting to focus on the terrible injustice of our loss of Natalie in our earthly presence, I hope you will join me in my personal choice to fill my hours this weekend remembering her pure joy of life, her incredible passions, her abundant talents, and her intense love for her family and friends.  That was, undoubtedly, Nat's longest lasting gift to us all – the reminder that life is precious and that we’ve just gotta embrace it with a gusto while we have the chance!

May our hearts soar as one up towards the heavenly sky in celebration of Natalie’s life. 

And Debbie, Doug, Chris and the whole Richards family:  please know how much we are with you in our hearts.

We miss you terribly, Nat.


Patty and Kelly Bragg


1 Comment

brooke mcleod
By brooke mcleod
Thinking of our dear sweet Natalie on her birthday month of March. She is always in our hearts and we send all the Richards our love. Her beauty and spirit live within us. Thinking of you all...

Brooke Neil and Ian