Remembering Katie Fitch
Reposted from ZeroGossip.com. More on her can be found here. I’m reposting from my other blog because no matter what, you should never forget those whose paths you’ve crossed. This was originally posted January 2, 2009.
In this world of email chains, it’s sometimes hard to tell which are real stories and which are fake. A while back, there was the story of Ivory Watts. That was all too real. Then there was the story of Penny Brown (still going around by the way) who, the email said, was missing. It turns out, it was a hoax. There is one going around now about a little girl named Katie Fitch from Florence, South Carolina. It looks like this and after you read it, I’ll let you know if it’s real.
Please remember me in your prayers…
Katie is a beautiful three-year old little girl who has just been diagnosed with hepatoblastoma. This is an extremely rare form of liver cancer that affects about one in every million children born in the United States every year.
The tumor is so large that it cannot be removed until chemotherapy has been given to try to shrink it. No child should have to endure what she is going through. Please remember Katie and her family in your prayers that God may give them the strength to endure this most difficult time in their lives.
A little more of Katie’s story:
Katie’s battle with cancer began Saturday, June 21, 2008. She told her mommy that she had a ‘tummy ache’ and she wanted to lay down and take a nap. She did not have any energy the rest of the day nor did she want to eat. Sunday, June 22, 2008, she again complained of a ‘tummy ache’. Katie’s mom, Stacie, felt her stomach and noticed a large lump. She was fearful that Katie may have a hernia so she took her to the doctor the following Monday morning.
The doctor on duty called in the head of pediatrics to examine Katie to confirm his fears. The head of pediatrics called them all to his office and gave them the bad news. He told them that he felt with a 90% surety that it was cancer. He then said a prayer with this family and immediately referred Katie to the Children’s Hospital at the Medical University of South Carolina. Tuesday morning, Katie underwent a barrage of tests including blood work and CT Scans. This confirmed her diagnosis.
The tumor is so large that it is pressing on her stomach, kidneys, lungs, and intestine. This tumor cannot be removed until she has undergone chemotherapy to try to shrink it so that it can be safely removed without harming her. Friday morning, June 26, 2008, Katie will have the first of many surgeries to biopsy the tumor and place a Port-A-Cath for the administration of the chemotherapy. Her battle with cancer is just beginning.
Please imagine how you would feel if this were your baby enduring such a life threatening illness and say a prayer for Katie and her family. The power of prayer is tremendous and perhaps, through enough prayers, our hopes for a miracle will be answered and Katie will return home with her family to live a long, happy, healthy, and productive life as active as any normally healthy child could have.
If you pass this prayer request to just 10 people, and they pass it to 10 more, and they pass it to 10 more, it reaches 1000 people with a few clicks of the mouse. Prayer works.
Katie on her first day of chemotherapy
Unfortunately, Katie’s story is very real. I spoke with her sister Kristin today and she told me Katie’s story. “On June 23, we thought Katie had a hernia and we were scared to death that that was what it was because she had a staph infection when she was much younger. Antibiotics couldn’t control it. So any kind of surgery would be a big deal for her because if that infection became inflamed and spread, it could be deadly. We were very terrified that she was going to need surgery to have the hernia removed.”
The news they got from the doctor was devastating.
“The doctor told us he believed it was cancerous tumor in her liver. This was nothing that we were prepared for. Mama was shaking–scared to death. All we could do was pray and cry and have faith that everything would be alright. He sent us immediately to the Children’s Hospital at the Medical University of South Carolina for a biopsy. At that point, there was still a chance the tumor was benign.”
It wasn’t. At just 3 years old, Katie has hepatoblastoma, a very rare form of liver cancer. The tumor extends from her rib cage to her pelvis and takes up a good part of her abdomen pushing on her organs.
“She really had no symptoms,” Kristin said. “The tumor was too large to be removed so they immediately began chemotherapy to shrink it. Because she’s on antibiotics and needs the chemotherapy, a port was inserted in her chest for the chemo.”
Despite all this, Katie has remained very upbeat and deals with this the way only a kid can. “She calls the port-a-cath ‘Bob’ and the pole that holds the bag of medicine ‘Fred.’ It makes it familiar and easier for her to talk to us. She’ll tell us ‘Bob’ hurts or can you move ‘Fred’.”
Kristin said doctors give Katie a 70% chance of survival and have her on a ‘German protocol’ chemotherapy regimen which has a 10% higher success rate. The goal is to shrink the tumor to an operable size. Last week, she finished her second of six monthly rounds of chemotherapy. Each round requires her to be admitted to the hospital for about 2 weeks. Doctors will do a CT scan after her next round to see if it’s working.
“It’s very scary but we have a lot of faith that she’ll be ok.”
So, how did Katie’s story make its rounds around the world? “A very close family friend said she was going to start a prayer chain,” Kristin said. It mushroomed from there. “We’ve had an incredible response. We built a website, KatieFitch.com so people could leave messages. The last time I checked, it had over 33,000 hits and 600 people have signed the guest book. I told Katie the other night that she was famous. Her face lit up. I told her people all over the world were praying for her. I let her sit on my lap and show her pictures people sent on MySpace.”
On top of the monthly chemotherapy admissions, Katie’s parents must take her to the hospital three times a week for checkups. While her medical expenses are being covered, the family is struggling a bit with the finances. The hospital is 2.5 hours from Florence so every round trip to the hospital runs about $100. “Mama can’t work because she takes care of Katie now,” Kristin said. “Her daddy is working and doing his best to take care of the house.”
The family’s car wasn’t suited for frequent extended trips so the town came together for a benefit in Katie’s honor. They raised $1500 which went toward a used van bought at an auction.
Through it all, Katie is a trooper. “She says she’s not sick anymore,” Kristin said. “She says she doesn’t need the doctors. She calls the tumor her rock. She says my rock is little now, they can take it out.”
Hopefully, very soon, they will.
You can leave messages for Katie on her MySpace page or KatieFitch.com. Any donations will go toward the family’s travel expenses. Kristin said that once Katie is cured, she plans to continue supporting cancer organizations and will make sure any donations left over get to people who need it.
UPDATE 2/18/2009: Sadly Katie passed away February 15…her 4th birthday.