The heart of a mother is one that will change the world.
Katie knows that being a mom to a loved one who's battling cancer is not easy, and continues to love and remain strong with every change that comes her way.
She loves greatly and without bounds - Jack, her family, and community. We are so humbled to share her story today. 📷: @saramccaffreyphotography
My name is Katie, and I am a mom to Jack and Jude. I am originally from Buffalo, New York. My husband and I were both transplants to Philadelphia, met here, and have been living here ever since for over 15 years. We started our family here and are very fortunate to have the least interruptible life and to live so close to the children's hospitals.
What was the hardest part of Jack's medical journey that you had to overcome?
Jack’s medical journey came as a complete shock to us. The day that he got diagnosed was a gut punch for me and my husband. We went to the pediatrician and learned that he was diagnosed with leukemia. It was a shock because he was always this hyper, energetic 12 year old. To watch him deteriorate because of the medicine intentionally given to him (intense loss of hair, intense nausea, no walking for a while) was especially difficult. What we were giving him with intentions to help him were the things making him suffer.
How do you live beyond this journey? What motivates you to live beyond it?
The time Jack was diagnosed, I was 8.5 months pregnant with my youngest son (Jude) and my husband and I were living in a temporary apartment. All of it was happening at once, and that was really difficult.
We used to travel all the time for both work and vacation trips. And we went from being a social family to one in hibernation.
However, in the midst of all of this, the support from people in our lives has been life changing.
Both my husband and I’s moms came to be with us so we were able to have extra coverage especially at times where Jack would have to be at the hospital 2 days at a time. We also had support from those in our community. Friends and neighbors rallied behind us to provide assistance whether it was dropping off meals, giftcards, or doing mini tasks.
Today, Brad and I trying to give back where we can. This is a big part of our lives forever now. Thankfully, Jack is in remission and is responding to it well. He’s been in 2 years of treatment.
Jack is an ambassador for our hospital for this month Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. We want to give a voice that cancer does happen to everyone and it doesn’t discriminate.
As a community, how can we help and support you?
While our story seems unique, it’s not. I’ve met so many parents where the older child of the family is diagnosed. It’s said that 1 out of 200 children are diagnosed with cancer before 18 years old.
I think bringing awareness and faces to different journeys like Code Blue Jewelry is a great way to support.
I also want the community to know that cancer doesn’t just affect the child, but also family and friends. Jack is at a young age right now so he is still developing, and we don’t know if any of this medication will have long-lasting side effects physically, emotionally, and mentally. Right now there are anger emotional issues when he cannot grasp what’s happening to him. For almost a year, Jack has been taken out of his normal childhood. But in that, we are working to help him learn the little things again, like expectations of him getting things.