Sarcoma Story: Katie Jurek

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Type of Sarcoma: Osteosarcoma
Date of Diagnosis: July 2002
Location: leg

Katie Jurek, graduated from Tartan High School in Oakdale, MN in 2004. She was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer, on July 31, 2002. By the time she was diagnosed, her entire right femur had been taken over by the cancer. Over the course of the next 13 months, she had aggressive chemo treatments, multiple surgeries including one to replace her femur with a metal bone, and countless hours of physical therapy. She missed her entire junior year her at Tartan, but when she felt up to it, I would bring her up to Tartan for lunch. She would sit through all four lunches so she could visit with her friends. Many of the kids at Tartan only knew her as the girl with cancer. She would come to school bald, pale, skinny and walking with crutches, but she always had a huge smile on her face and people noticed.

Katie was not going to miss her first day of her senior year. She had received her last chemo treatment only 4 days prior to that. She came to school with IV fluids running, bandanna on her head and again, that huge smile on her face. She even had to have one of the Children’s Hospital nurses come to the school to draw blood for lab work. Katie made the most of every minute of her senior year.

In September of 2005, our worst fears were confirmed. Her cancer had returned in her leg. We were told that she could not survive this. At that time, she was given a choice; Amputate your leg or die within 3 months. It was an agonizing time. She chose the amputation and adapted quickly. She tried various treatments including chemo, radiation, and more surgery. Still, her spirit shined through. She went back to college, she went back to work, and she traveled to as many places as she could, traveling as far as Paris and Alaska. She packed as much life into every day as she could. In February of 2007, her body could no longer support her. Her spirit kept her going as long as it could, but her battle was over on February 22.

Katie taught me many things, but one lesson she taught us all is that when life changing events happen to you, only you make the decision as to how it will impact your life. You can choose to let the negative consume you, or you can live your life to its fullest.

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