David Broder, the noted columnist, wrote in the paper today about the need for healthcare reform – a huge national issue. But I am choosing to write about something much more grassroots – the story of 16-year-old Katie Hunter of Duvall, Washington.
Katie is the president of her junior class now at Cedarcrest High School and she is running cross country. But three years ago her world fell apart when what looked like a bug bite on her forearm turned out to be malignant melanoma, a serious cancer. She soon had surgery – more than once – and then immunotherapy with Interferon. It was tough and she had to give up her select soccer team that she loved and some other things too. She had to try to explain to her teenaged friends about cancer. And it wasn’t easy to learn to speak out.
Her hair thinned and she was tired. But Katie persevered with help from great medical care at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the University of Washington.
Today Katie appeared on my radio show – bright blue eyes, energy and no sign of the cancer at present. She is also co-chairperson of a big melanoma symposium coming up to raise awareness for this serious disease – prevention (sunscreen!!), treatment, research, and support.
I continue to be bowled over by young people who have incredible strength and hope. Katie has the ambition to be a nurse – to give back. And I feel confident she will. She already is.
So while the nation’s policy makers debate healthcare reform – and I am for that, Katie inspires us. She touched my heart as she does most everyone she meets. I invite you to hear the replay of my program with Katie and her doctor, David Byrd.