Thank you so much, I may say that a thousand more times in my lifetime, but my family and I were given the gift of you, Kizzy, and the rest of Kate’s team(s), and we will remain eternally grateful. There was always a sense of solace knowing that she had the very best soldiers on her front line. It is hard to not let our wheels spin with questions and “what ifs”, and you guys have really confirmed that we, mostly she, did everything possible. In our conversations about death, we often talked about how we would support Katie if she ever decided to not fight, (she often referred to “My Sister’s Keeper”) and it was only the night before she died that she looked at me and said for the first time “I don’t want to do this anymore”. I simply texted Kristine those words, and we just knew, like you must have when you saw her Tuesday morning. The thing is, I don’t think Katie would have ever given up the fight we all so believed in, her body had to simply shut her down because the valor and determination of her mind was so strong. I keep replaying that morning over and over again in my mind, plagued with feelings that I should have known, should have done more…flashbacks when she was scared, I couldn’t be stronger and hold back my tears… I think my sister, mom, Drew, and I left pieces of ourselves inside those moments with Kate, and now we are just beginning to rest and heal.
By some odd coincidence, the dean of Katie’s grad program in D.C. as well as several others from SIT had called a World Learning Summit in Minneapolis yesterday. My mom, Kristine and I were invited and it was such a gift to be reminded of the life Katie had, the person she was BC (before cancer). Preeti, her dean was so enamored with Kate. She told us stories of how Katie would get so irritated with her unprepared classmates; interrupting their obtuse inquiries with “obviously you haven’t done the reading, don’t waste Preeti’s time with your questions…” It just made me think of her last Monday night when we thought her pain was out of control because we had missed her oral dialaudid all day, she told Dr. Desai, “I do not appreciate the care I am receiving, you need to fix this now”. Needless to say, he personally attended to her as they changed her meds and she was comfortable again.
We had the opportunity to hear the story of a woman from Kenya, pursuing the same graduate degree Katie was, she talked with such energy and conviction (reminded us again of Katie) about her struggle to fight corruption and advocate for women’s rights in her country. I just had to ask her, “despite immense discouragement, what keeps you, just one person, fighting?” She just simply shrugged her shoulders, and with a smile said “it just makes you want to fight harder, do more.” I have seen that people like Naomi from Kenya, Katie in her fight with cancer, her Ninja doctors and mentors (you) and your tireless pursuit to cure, are truly special; when most would give up through such discouraging incidences, there are those few amazing people who “fight harder, do more” and “work harder to find better solutions…” I now understand why she felt such a connection to you, her ninja-like “big brother”, Dr. Oliver … – it came with your incredible shared perseverance. Keep doing what you do, what you did for Katie.
It’s been hard to reflect, especially over the past two months, on just how sick she was getting. We just slowly became numb to the gravity of her disease, her deterioration, and the pain she must have been in. She, without complaint, went through so much. Getting to know the part of Katie she was forced to leave in D.C., and reading/receiving all the messages from our Mayo family has really helped to heal the pain cancer had ravaged our Katie, and family with. Kate left us the gift of her words, read her blog if you ever let yourself have a little free time… I think you’ll find a few laughs in there 🙂 Thank you again for everything, and please share with our people down there.
With all our gratitude and respect,