My 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.


Kelly Bragg posted a new journal entry, "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 ... Read more

peggy chapman-cantfil signed Natalie's Guestbook.

A heavenly birthday - what a good way to greet this day! While Mark and I did not know Natalie on earth we have learned much ... Read more

Mary & Rod MacAlister signed Natalie's Guestbook.

Dearest Debbie, Doug, Chris, Ellen, Cynthia, Mark and Alison,Cherishing sweet memories of darling Natalie on her Heavenly Birthday. Always in our heart and ... Read more

brooke mcleod signed Natalie's Guestbook.

Thanks Patty and Kelly for your touching message about Natalie. Natalie is always on our minds and forever in our hearts. We hold her close to our heart! Debbie, I enjoyed ... Read more

Suzanne O'Malley signed Natalie's Guestbook.

A beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul and an enduring presence forever in the lives of so many.  Thank you for the continuing loving reminders -- reminders to ... Read more

brooke mcleod signed Natalie's Guestbook.

Hello Richards Family,Just wanted you to know we are thinking of you and Natalie remains in our hearts and with us always. Her beauty and love surrounds us all. Hope to ... Read more

Kelly Bragg posted a new journal entry.

Hello all!It's Spring -- and that means one thing(!):  the RACE FOR HOPE is coming up!As you know, team SAINTS FOR HOPE was started by students and friends of Natalie at ... Read more

Mary MacAlister signed Natalie's Guestbook.

Dearest Deb, Doug, Chris, Ellen, Cynthia, Mark and Ali, Our hearts are full as we especially remember darling Natalie on her earthly Birthday weekend. At these times, ... Read more

Liza May signed Natalie's Guestbook.

Debbie, Doug & Chris - We think of you and your family often.  We fondly recall Natalie's beautiful voice, her magical touch on the piano and her lovely ... Read more

Kathy Miller signed Natalie's Guestbook.

Dear Debbie and Doug...thinking of you all today as we remember beautiful Natalie!  What a gift she was.  We will never forget her beautiful smile.  Love, Steve and Kathy Read more

Gail & Alan Hock signed Natalie's Guestbook.

Hello Richards Cousins, Thinking of Natalie and Uncle Tom laughing together - with Natalie "twiddling" his earlobes! Love - Gail Read more

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