I know my articles are supposed to be about fishing and hunting, but our oldest granddaughter was recently diagnosed with cancer. This article is about Katie and cancer and our family’s efforts to deal with this. I can understand if you simply skip the article this time, but if you choose to read on there may be something of value.
If you want a very different perspective on life and your place in it spend some time in the halls of a children’s cancer hospital. It will be one of the most humbling experiences of your life.
Cancer is the most democratic of diseases. It makes no distinction between gender, age, skin color, economic status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or anything else that our human species typically uses to discriminate with – and cause varying degrees of unhappiness on this earth. Cancer just doesn’t care about any of these distinctions. It is a “fairly dispensed unhappiness” disease. Cancer has no concern about ethnicity or skin color. Cancer cares little about where you’re from or how much money you have. It’s indiscriminate as the lottery, only with better odds (if you’re cancer).
It would great if only after you reached a certain age would you be a candidate for cancer. Maybe at 60 you have a 1 in 50 chance to get cancer, at 70 it goes up to 1 in 25, at 80 it’s 1 in 10, and at 90 or more it’s 1 in 5. That seems fair and reasonable and even gives a 90 year old a decent chance of not getting cancer.
But the reality I see as I walk the public areas of this children’s cancer hospital is that cancer could care less about your age. Beautiful little children who couldn’t be over 6 to 8 years old aren’t supposed to be bald with swollen faces and oftentimes bulging eyes, but here they are. And it breaks my heart every time I see one. I try to remember their faces so I can include them in my prayers. I really don’t want to know their names. That would just be too hard to handle.
Sitting back and watching, observing, listening, two things dominate here. They stand out above everything else. They are something shared by patients, parents, loved ones, and most of the staff. One is an overwhelming feeling of hope. Everyone is immersed in hope. Seldom have I seen a frown here. Unfortunately some will be disappointed. For some hope will become a past memory.
The other dominate emotion I see and feel here is optimism. Optimism is the precursor to hope. In the same family, but less desperate. There’s a lot of optimism here. It is alive here and unavoidable wherever you go. It’s on display by patients, parents, loved ones, and especially the staff who are unbelievably kind and considerate.
Our granddaughter’s name is Katie Voytek. She is 21 and a junior in elementary education at Indiana University. She loves children and is a beautiful person who, in my humble opinion, is a carbon copy of her grandpa (Gpa to Katie) if outspokenness and stubbornness are included. She really doesn’t deserve this diagnosis of ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) which she is now dealing with, but it is what it is. We are all powerless to change it.
Katie is tough, strong, and perhaps more than a little “hard headed”, but this is a huge challenge she is facing. She is losing her beautiful auburn hair due to the chemo and is having trouble keeping food down. Her joints ache and she has swollen up considerably due to the mega doses of steroids. She is confined to her hospital room which she will occupy for at least 4 to 5 weeks. But through all this she is positive and able to maintain a sense of humor. I admire and love her so much. She is my hero.
Is Katie in good hands given the democratic “luck of the draw” she was dealt by this disease? Yes, very much so. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is one of the 3 top hospitals in the nation for treating ALL. I have never, ever seen an organization this size be so well run. So friendly. So professional. So intellectually superior. So externally driven by those they serve. To the person Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is all about the patient. Although I don’t usually hang out at hospitals gauging how well they do or don’t do in addressing patient’s needs and making sure they are informed and reassured, this hospital would surely be the poster boy for all others.
Will Katie beat this cancer? Absolutely. No question. Reports are good, the staff awesome, and Katie’s attitude unfaltering. It will be a struggle, but Katie will prevail. Of that I am certain.
So why write this article in the ALFC newsletter? Well, we need all of your prayers. Not just for Katie, but for the doctors, nurses, technicians, attendants, and others who are administrating to her. Dixie and I believe in the power of prayer and we know that all of you, friends first and foremost, do as well. So we’re asking you for help. We have hope down pat, but now we need your prayers for Katie.
Thank you for reading this. I know you care. We love all of you and thank God we have such wonderful friends. Bless you all.
This week we have some great deals for the Spring Fishing season including $85.00 of FREE goods with a purchase of a Shimano Curado 200I.
Thanks to each and every one of you for your amazing friendship and loyalty. We are here only because of you. If we ever fail to meet your expectations please let us know immediately. We will make it right!