More Than Friends
Katie was only 38 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Anthony, the future quarterback for the Raiders, was only five years old, and Ava, with her blond curls and big blue eyes, was just two. Both children have been part of the Wayne YMCA’s programs since they were infants. As is a natural occurrence at the Y - a true community center in every sense of the word - young families establish friendships that last a lifetime. It is these friendships and the Y’s staff and programs that would be the lifeline for Katie as she began her grueling process of treatments.
When Katie was initially diagnosed, she turned to one of her closest friends at the Y, Hillary, who also had children enrolled in programs at the Y. Hillary knew the director of the Parenting Center, Arlene, was a long time breast cancer survivor and would be able to give Katie direction and support. They called Arlene at home late that first night, and after a long discussion, Katie knew that her main objective was to NOT let this cancer beat her and do whatever it took to live - for herself, her husband and her family. Cancer has a way of quickly putting life into perspective for her.
Before Katie even began her grueling chemotherapy treatments, the incredible support system of the Y staff and parents were there for her and her children in every capacity imaginable. The Y provided extended hours in the nursery school for her young children whenever Katie needed them. Her friends made sure that grocery shopping was done, laundry was folded, meals were cooked or delivered, home was cleaned and carpooling for the children was organized. A group of moms called the Savvy Striders, raised money and walked in Katie’s honor for the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Foundation! With all the “day to day” planned and supervised by her Y family and friends, Katie was able to focus on getting well. She spent many weeks in bed with no energy and often ready to throw in the towel. But during the alternating weeks of feeling better, Katie knew she was one step closer to beating cancer.
Chemotherapy, radiation treatments and surgery behind her, Katie is doing very well. Her hair has grown back thick and beautiful as ever, she is enjoying her time with her four children and husband, and the continuous support from her Y family still brings tears to her eyes. “I am forever grateful for the Y being more than just a place to take my children, but where I can find trusting relationships,” Katie said. She deeply appreciates the Y being there for her and her children, being a home away from home, being a place where her children would feel comfortable even without their mother there, and a place where relationships have formed into lifelong friendships. And more importantly, she is delighted that she will be here to watch her children’s dreams come true.