"Katie" Kathleen Anne McBride
June 18, 1996 –March 1, 2008
Daughter of Mike and Jeanne McBride
Just last spring Katie was a beautiful, happy, feisty, healthy young lady with silky long blonde hair, bright blue eyes, a warm smile, her Dad’s dimples and great sense of humor. Her favorite things to do were shopping, watching movies, playing with her cousins and fighting with her brothers. Although the baby of the family she could hold her own with her big brothers Michael and Patrick. Nobody pushed Katie around.
Memorial Day weekend 2007 we noticed Katie’s voice sounded odd. She sounded like she had a cold, but she felt fine and went off to Florida with her Grandparents. While away Aunt Elizabeth complained Katie was snoring, and when she returned I observed her sleeping. She was very restless and all night long she would sit herself up in bed, still sleeping, and take deep breaths. Lying down on her back she could not breathe. I took her to our pediatrician suspecting sleep apnea. Instead the doctor found her right tonsil was the size of a golf ball and was cutting off her airway. Other than this huge tonsil she had absolutely no other symptoms. She had no pain, no fever and no lack of energy. We never imagined the nightmare that lie ahead.
On Katie’s 11th birthday, after a week of hospitals, a multitude of doctors and a series of tests, we were told her diagnosis and our lives were turned upside down. We were informed she had a type of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma called Burkitts. We later learned that Burkitts is the fastest growing human cancer and was not only present in her tonsils. The cancer was in her lymph nodes, her liver and her stomach. She immediately began intense chemotherapy at Schneider Children’s Hospital.
Over the next four months she suffered the effects of treatment: nausea, vomiting, severe mouth sores and hair loss to name a few; however she remained her feisty self and entertained us all with her unique sense of humor and smile. She rarely complained about anything except taking medicine, and she sped through her protocol in record time. We all thought that she was doing so well. Her doctors were very pleased, and on September 20th she was discharged from the hospital.
Unfortunately she had missed her graduation picnic and the entire end of the year festivities from June. She missed starting middle school in September with the rest of her friends. Katie couldn’t wait to see her friends again, figure out how to open her new locker and find her way around the huge new school. Then in October we were told that Katie could ease back into normal activities.
She had a wonderful 4 days of school before she felt ill again. On October 15th we went back to Schneider Children’s Hospital, our home away from home, and learned our greatest fear had been realized. She had relapsed after only 3 weeks. The cancer had now spread to her bone marrow and spleen. We were told that her only chance for survival was to begin an intense chemotherapy regimen to get her disease under control coupled with a bone marrow transplant. Because of Burkitt’s Leukemia’s rarity there was no protocol to follow. Dr. Atlas at Schneider’s enlisted the help of Dr. Mitchell Cairo from Columbia Presbyterian and together they were able to get Katie into remission and ready for transplant.
We have had several glimmers of hope. First, our son Michael was determined to be a perfect match for her bone marrow and able to be her donor. This was such a blessing because a complete match leads to fewer complications after transplant and he was readily available when time was of the essence with this aggressive disease. Second, the disease responded well to the chemotherapy, and we were able to achieve a good remission. Third, despite the fact that she was immuno compromised for so long, she avoided any serious life threatening infections, which proves even without white blood cells, she’s still a fighter!
As I write these words, Katie remains at Schneider’s recovering from her transplant. Her muscles and bones have suffered from inactivity and she requires physical therapy. She sleeps most of the day because of all the pain medication and anti-nausea medicine. She has been bed ridden and has not eaten a meal since we were last home on October 14th, 3 ½ months ago. She will require lifelong treatment and hormone injections. Due to the pre-transplant total body radiation treatments, she will almost assuredly develop other tumors and complications. For the next year she will remain isolated, will have to be extremely careful with her diet and her visitors will be limited due to her immuno-suppressed condition. She will not be able to leave the house, spend time with her cousins or attend her brother’s graduation. These last eight months have been difficult and the months to come present their own challenges. We will get through it with the help of the outstanding doctors and nurses at Schneider Children’s Hospital, all the love, support and prayers of our wonderful community of family and friends. We especially would like to thank the Gladiator Fund, all its supporters and the entire New Hyde Park Community for honoring Katie and for all the good work that you do for the community.