Meet Katie from Clarinbridge
Last week Katie went to see Justin Bieber with her friends in Dublin. It was a big night for her, the last concert she had been at was more than a year ago. It was a Taylor Swift concert. In between both concerts Katie has undergone 6 operations, 30 sessions of radiation and 6 months of chemotherapy. Katie is a cancer survivor.
In September 2015 Katie had just started her BA in Arts at NUIG. She was studying French, Psychology and Geography. She was after having an amazing summer. Her leaving cert went well, her debs was so much fun and she was heading off to Uni with her friends. Katie woke up one Sunday Morning with an horrendous headache and she started to get sick. She thought she had gotten food poisoning and just carried on with her week. A few days later got sick again and her mum told her to go to the doctor. She ended up at the University Hospital and was transferred to Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. Through various scans a tumour was discovered on her brain stem.
Katie was only 17 at the time so was admitted to St Raphael's Children's ward. Her parents had to legally make all the decisions for her. Because this tumour was growing, the only real solution was to operate. At this point Katie didn't feel anxious; she felt that once she had the operation life would return to normal.
The operation was successful in removing the tumour and it easily lifted off the stem but, it had started to attach to part of the brain. The surgeon had to remove all of it and this caused bruising to the brain and the entire left hand side of her body. They also discovered that the tumour was cancerous and Katie would need Radiation and Chemotherapy to ensure it was fully gone. Before undergoing this treatment she decided to donate her hair to the Rapunzel Foundation. Her hair was thick and as the hairdresser was slowly cutting off her plait the realisation of what was happening kicked in. Katie sat in the chair and cried.
Katie is receiving ongoing support from the amazing Cancer Care West. They are helping her get stronger but right now Katie doesn't have much strength in the left hand side of her body. She uses a walking aid and occasionally a wheelchair.
The worst part of the whole ordeal for Katie was getting the radiation. She had six dots tattooed on her torso so the radar waves could be lined up exactly for each of her 30 sessions. She could not move for the whole session but they let her listen to the Taylor Swift Live album. Hearing the music now brings back mixed memories, sometimes she can't listen to the song but she would definitely go and see her again in concert.
While Katie now has multiple scars and dot tattoos on her body from the operations and treatment. She wants to add to this by getting a tattoo on her back. It will be a different type of "scar" one that will remind her of the experience in a positive way. She is hoping to get it done before Christmas and it will say; "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger".
Katie has pretty much taken the last year in her stride. Her family have helped her through it with positivity and love. Her friends have treated her like normal and planned fun trips for her. Any time she uses the wheelchair Katie has noticed the kindness of strangers and how people will go out of their way to help her.
Katie is one of the strongest, bravest people we have met. She is not only a cancer survivor; she is a warm, funny, kind and intelligent person who is going to go far in life.