Katie has cancer. Pretty much the only sentence going through my head for the last 5 days. Katie has cancer. Katie has cancer. I say it in the shower. I repeat it over and over while I do the dishes. It is all I can think of while I pick Cheerios off the family room floor. Katie has cancer. But, it's still not real. I still can't believe it. But, it's true. So I repeat those 3 words to myself, waiting for it to sink in. It doesn't. I wish it was last Friday. I wish it was last July. When we were all at the winery in South Haven. I wish Katie, and he sister, Kerry, and I were drinking wine and laughing. I wish Katie and Kerry weren't sitting in an oncologist's office right now. I wish I wasn't sitting on my computer typing out these six haunting letters... c.a.n.c.e.r.
I've never written about cancer on my blog. Because, I've never needed to or had a reason. Now I do. Katie has cancer. I write because it's my therapy. I write because when I was little, my teachers and my parents told me God gave me a talent that it was my duty to use. I write because it's a way I can share with others around the world, and if I can make a few people smile, I've had a purpose for my day. So, now I am not writing any humorous timelines about my Baby Girl eating her own poop. I am not writing about a fun home renovation. I am writing about cancer. And Katie. Because, Katie has cancer.
Katie, my big cousin who has been a big sister to me for all of my (almost) 36 years. Katie, who has been the person I've looked up to my whole life. Katie, who I wanted to be when I grew up. My big cousin, who as the years passed, our 10 year age difference shrunk. Katie and Kerry and I who are so grateful we all had kids the same age. Katie, who is the reason I went to Purdue. Katie, who always had my sister and I rolled into balls of laughter on the floor. My Katie. She has cancer. Katie who is a Mommy to 3 little adorable children. Katie who is the world's best elementary school teacher. Katie who I've shared all my secrets with. Katie who makes everyone, and I mean everyone, laugh until they can't breathe. Katie who loves frogs, and books, and Bud Light bottles. Katie who adores Bon Jovi, Purdue University, and the beach, and being Irish. Katie who loves her family above all else. Katie who would do anything for her children. Katie who plays on her hands and knees with my children. Katie who is so close with Kerry and her mom, Pam, they are connected in a way that defies science.
Katie whom I love so dearly. And, I'm not alone. Katie is one of the most popular people in La Grange, Illinois. She is a living legend. She has touched thousands of lives. Many will agree that I'm not exaggerating when I say... "Katie Oplawski-Sedlacek is one of the greatest people on the earth." Within hours of the news of her diagnosis, people in the community had rallied around her. A Go Fund Me page raised over $50,000 in less that 48 hours in her honor. I mean, this is a special person, people. This is someone you don't forget, even if you have met her once. This is a person with a genuine heart of gold you can see glimmering through her crystal blue eyes. I can't even get to the point of asking, "Why?" "Why would this happen to such an amazing person?" Because, I can't even believe it yet. The fact that... Katie has cancer.
So I will just keep telling myself, "Katie has cancer", until I can accept it. I will keep having an avalanche of thoughts in my head: "Katie will fight cancer. She has to. She has 3 little babies, for God's sake. Katie will be fine. Katie can handle this. She has to. Because, we can't handle anything without her. Katie has cancer. But, we already have all our plans for the rest of our lives. We are taking all the kids to Disney World. We are going on trips to Longboat Key. We aren't doing chemo. But, we are. Katie has cancer. Our 2 oldest are going to be roommates at Purdue. We are going to embarrass them on Mom's Weekend. We are going to tailgate and go to Harry's. But, now there is cancer. This is what's happening. Our annual trip to South Haven is happening. Not cancer. But, Katie has cancer.
So, now cancer has infiltrated my family. Now, it will be a part of our daily life. Now, it's our Katie's Caring Bridge page you will see shared on Facebook. Now, it's our Katie you may be praying for. And if you do, I thank you. Science may cure her, but the prayers can empower her. The surgery and the radiation and the chemo will cause her pain, your prayers will fill her with peace. I know we need to hold fast to our faith, and we will. I know that there will be highs and lows and hugs and tears. And, knowing Katie, lots of laughs. I believe that at the end of this journey I will be able to type a new sentence that will be fluttering around in my head...
Katie beat cancer.